The Fukiya village in Okayama, Japan -Part 2-
What to see in the village centre
There are several shops, cafes and even museums in the quite short high street.
[The former Katayama residence]
The house for the head family of Katayama, built in the late Edo era.
The Katayama family was a very powerful merchant who made a fortune by producing “Bengara”.
The family was one of the merchants who initially set up in “Bengara” business properly, and the master of the family at that time organised a “Bengara” guild.
To go inside, you need to buy a ticket which gives you an admission to “Kyoudo-kan”, the local museum, as well.
[Kyoudo-kan (Local museum)]
Just across the street, there is a branch house of the Katayama family.
It was completed in 1879 after 5-year construction work.
Because it keeps its original condition the best in the village, it’s now used as a local museum, being rented from the owner.
You can see what a local rich family house was like.
A few minutes’ walk away from the high street.
This is listed as an Okayama prefecture’s important cultural property.
The school was opened in 1873, then moved to the present location in 1899.
Its east and west wings were completed in 1900, and the whole construction was finished in 1909.
It was closed in March of 2012 because of decreasing number of school children (only 7 pupils in the final year).
You can’t go inside the building except on certain days.
In 2014, it’s open to the public 6 times.
- May 3 and 4, 10:00-15:00
- August 16 and 17, 10:00-15:00
- September 20 and 21, 10:00-17:00
By the way, can you see a small, white house-like figure which is pictured on the right?
It’s a shelter for thermometers, “Hyaku-you-bako” or “Hyaku-you-sou” in Japanese, and it used to be placed in every elementary school ground in Japan.
[Yama Jinjya (Mountain shrine)]
Its name is maybe “San Jinjya”, not “Yama Jinjya”.
The stone-made stairs from High Street lead you to this very small shrine.
It was built to worship the god of the copper mine, probably between 1765 and 1770 in Yoshioka copper mine’ time of prosperity.
The present shrine, which is all made in zelkova wood, is said to have been built in the late Edo era.
It had been honored as the guardian god of the mine for a long time, but after the mine was abandoned in 1972, the village population gradually declined and it became more and more difficult to hold even a community festival for the god.
The “Go-shintai” (literally, the God’s Body, a divine object where a god or spirit resides) was moved to another shrine to be worshipped properly.
[Shiryou-kan (Local resources museum)]
Items for daily use are mainly exhibited.
Surrounding area (1)
[Sasaune Koudou (Sasaune mine tunnel)]
According to a tourist info website, it takes 10 min. to get there by car from the centre.
So, probably about an hour on foot?
I walked to all the places, but I don’t remember how long it took to get to each place.
Sasaune was a part of the Yoshioka copper mine.
The Yoshioka mine was said to be discovered in 807, and was directly under Bakufu, Japan’s feudal government, most of its operating time in the Edo era (1603-1867).
In 1873, its ownership transferred to Mitsubishi company.
The company introduced off-grid power system and mechanized the whole process from digging to transport.
It became one of the biggest mine in Japan, but its flourish days didn’t last very long.
In 1972, finally it was closed.
Reconstruction work of Sasaune was started in 1978, and opened to the public next year.
The whole length of reconstructed tunnels is 320m (approx. 3.5 yard).
Before you enter the tunnel, you have to wear a helmet which will be handed at the ticket office.
[Bengara-kan (Bengara museum)]
There are no photos of this place.
It seems I was too conscious of dogs following me on the way here from Sasaune.
The reconstructed “Bengara” factory.
It was owned by the Tamura family, the last one producing “Bengara” in Fukiya until 1974.
In this museum, you can see how “Bengara” was produced and on Sundays and Tuesdays in on-season (April to November), you can try pottery using “Bengara” at the building next to the museum.
5 min. by car from Sasaune, so perhaps half an hour on foot.
To be continued…
Latest posts by kara (see all)
- Basic Japanese : “Sumimasen” – “Thank you” in Japanese - June 24, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Arigatou” – “Thank you” in Japanese - May 29, 2015
- Basic Japanese : “Go-chisou sama” – Phrase after meal - May 27, 2015
The history of Yakushiji Temple Late in the 7th century(A.D.680), the erection of Yakushiji was planned Emperor Temmu to pray for the recovery of his Empress from a serious illness. The construction of Yakushiji on the site of Asuka, the south part of Nara, in the Fujiwara Capital, was not completed before the Emperor’s death. […]
The Japanese fox (Vulpes vulpes), as mentioned in the first part of this feature, is a common topic in Japanese myths and legends. Continuing our discussion about the kitsune, we will feature one of its known ability: human possession. Kitsune’s Human Possession Kitsune is able to possess humans. The word, 狐憑き (kitsunetsuki), literally means the […]
I’ve been posting Momotarou-related articles so far, and to be honest, I’m getting a bit tired of recalling, researching and translating old stories. This time, I write about the Fukiya village in Okayama as an interval. Actually, I didn’t even know the name of the village until several years ago. I don’t remember how I […]
Where is Omihachiman? Omihachiman is located on the eastern shore of Lake Biwa – the largest lake in Japan. According to wikipedia Omihachiman means “Hachiman in Omi”. Since the Edo Period Omihachiman has been known to be a merchants town and is now widely known to be the birthplace of ‘Omi-shonin’ – the merchants from […]
Naruto. Surely, when one hears the word Naruto what comes to mind is the popular manga Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto’s name was derived from similar Japanese words: naruto which can mean a powerful whirlpool (maelstrom) or the narutomaki which is the white topping with spiral design on a ramen, and uzumaki(渦巻) which means spiral or the […]
Bizen Osafune Nihon-tou Denshuu-jyo (Bizen Osafune Japanese sword learning centre) 1 Here, you can see swordsmithing on Saturdays, Sundays and National holidays for free. Note that they don’t demonstrate in summer because it is too hot for swordsmiths to forge. General information Open from 9:00 to 16:00, closed during lunchtime (12:00 – 13:00). On Sundays […]
I thought we already reached our destination after losing liters of sweat pushing our bicycles and ourselves following the steep road going up to the mountain. I was wrong. We just reached the wide parking area and there we were still half way from the top. But even so, the scenery from there was already very […]
Okayama Castle they say is one of the must see places here in Okayama City, Japan. Well if you have been around cities here a number of them have their own castle. I believe there are about hundreds of them scattered all over Japan. But what then sets this castle apart from the rest of […]
Firefly watching in Shirochi, Takahashi In Okayama prefecture, there are at least seven places listed on the website that I visited. I decided to pick one with easy access and free parking area. The viewing spot is located in Ochiai-cho, Shirochi, Takahashi-shi. In other viewing spots, artificially-reared fireflies are released to join other wild fireflies. While in […]
One weekend in June, my friend and I went to Nagasaki City for a weekend trip. Nagasaki City is the capital of Nagasaki Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. When we arrived at the Nagasaki station, we immediately went to their tourist help desk. Good thing there was an English speaking attendant who helped us […]