Saturday, July 22, 2023

Hizen Hamashuku Thatched Roof Townscape


Hizen Hamashuku, now a part of Kashima City in Saga, lies along the Hama River. On the north bank of the river, along what was in the Edo Period a fairly main highway, is a historic preservation district, Sakagura Street, with many historic buildings and numerous sake breweries.

However, on the south bank of the river, a little closer to the mouth where it enters the Ariake Sea, is another small preservation district, known as a "thatched roof townscape".

Many of these preservation districts consist of preserved buildings of wealthy merchants or high-class samurai, but here was a more "working class" neighborhood with much smaller homes.

In a maze of narrow lanes lived carpenters, blacksmiths, sailors, fishermen, and merchants.

A cluster of three small homes that belonged to the Ikeda, Nakamura, and Nakajima families, have been renovated and offer a fairly unique opportunity to see some smaller, traditional buildings.

When i visited first in 2016 the houses were open and free to enter. When I went back a couple of years ago they were closed up.

There are several other thatched properties, some larger, and on my last visit I noticed lots of water hoses on top of tall posts, ready to water down the rooves in case of fire.

Unlike many of these preservation districts, there are no cafes, souvenir shops, etc, it is still just a funky, lower-class residential area, and therefore in many ways actually more authentic.

It is a short walk from the Sakakura Sake District and just a few minutes from Hizenhama JR railway station.

This was the last stop of my tour of Kashima on day 59 of my walk around Kyushu and from here I headed off down the coast.

The previous post in the series was the samurai residence nearby. Other Preservation Districts I've recently covered include Mima on Shikoku, and Tsuyama in Okayama.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Decorative Manholes from Fukuoka, North Kyushu


Giravanz is the local soccer team in Kitakyushu that lay at the stadium in Kokura. Their mascot is a seagull named Wavy.

Matsu Beach is on a long sweeping bay in Okagaki Town in the Onga District. It is known for a long cycle path through the pines that grow along the beach.

Tagawa was a former coal-mining town whose two remaining brick chimneys are symbols of the town.

These last two were  both found in Kokura, though I have seen them popping up all over Japan, manholes depicting characters from Pokemon. I know almost nothing about Pokemon, though I believe these manholes are connected to Pokemn-Go, a smartphone game.

The previous post in the series was Saga Manholes.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Hizen Hamashuku Former Samurai Residence


Hidden among the maze of small alleys around Sakagura Street in Hizen Hamasuku, Kashima, is a well-preserved example of a former samurai home that is open to the public.

It is quite a substantial 2-storeyed structure with a thatched roof and is believed to have been built in the early 19th century.

It differs from most of the other samurai residences I have posted on, like the one in Matsue, or the one in Izushi, in that it is not within a samurai quarter of a castle town, but rather is set among residences of farmers.

Evidence from the interior arrangements suggests that this samurai family was engaged in silkworm production and farming, activities officially "beneath" those of the samurai class.

There was a certain amount of "class" turmoil by the 19th century as many impoverished samurai gave up their statues to become farmers or even merchants, and many rich merchants and farmers being given trappings of samurai statues like family names and permission to wear swords.

The thatched roof of this property is U-shaped, a local style known as Kudo-Zukuri. Like with many such sites in Japan off the main tourist track, entry is free.

The previous post was on the nearby Hizen Hamashuku Sakagura Street Preservation District.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Oki Islands Horses & Cattle


One of the unusual sights encountered on the remote Oki Islands off the north coast of Shimane, are horses and cattle roaming free.

Japan has a livestock industry, with plenty of pork, beef, chicken, etc being raised, however, most of it is indoors, some small scale, some truly industrial.

Several times while driving around Nishinomiya Island we had to rake suddenly because of cattle in the roads.

All these shots were taken in the NW corner of the island in the grassy highlands above the Kuniga Coast.

I believe that Hokkaido is quite different from the rest of Japan and its agriculture is more akin to American style so more livestock can be seen grazing at pasture.

I quite like it and it reminded me a little of the ponies on Dartmoor. There is no doubt in my mind that "free range" livestock is tastier.

The previous post in this series exploring the delightful Oki Islands was the Yurahime "squid" Shrine.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Hizen Hamashuku Sakagura Street Preservation District


Along the banks of the Hama River in the southern part of what is now Kashima City in Saga Prefecture in Kyushu, Hizen Hamashuku was a town that grew up along the Tara Kaido, a branch of the Nagasaki Kaido.

The area around a 600-meter-long section of the old road is named Sakagura Street and is now a registered preservation district of traditional architecture.

Among the traditional stores and homes are three surviving sake breweries from among the thirteen that originally dominated the area.

Touring the traditional sake breweries and sampling the many varieties still produced here is now the many attraction that draws tourists from far and wide.

In combination with 3 other sake breweries in Kashima, including one near the famous Yutoku Inari Shrine, major sake festivals are held in the Spring and Autumn.

I am not a big fan of sake, so for me the area was of more interest because of the traditional architecture.

Other than the sake breweries there are souvenir shops, cafes, and eateries,

Sakagura Street is just a few minutes walk from Hizenham JR Station.

Just off the main street is an old, thatched, former samurai residence that I will cover next post.

The previous post in this series chronicling day 59 of my Kyushu walk was the nearby Yutoku Inari Shrine.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Museum Of Modern Art Wakayama


The Mueum of Modern Art in Wakayama City is located across from the ruins of Wakayama Castle in the downtown area.

It is in front of, and connected to, the Wakayama Prefectural Museum, and both were designed by Kisho Kurokawa.

In fact I preferred the Prefectural Museum both for its architecture and for its exhibitions.

I couldnt get any sense of what the architecture was about and the exhibitions were not articularly appealing.

The msueum has a collection of more than 10,000 artworks, mostly Japanese, and mostly Wakayama-based artists, though its print collection is considered quite good. It has a few pieces by non-Japanese artists, Stella, Rothko, and even a Picasso, though none of them are their best works.

The previous post in this series on Wakayama was the aforementioned Prefectural Museum.