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…
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