The Fukiya Village in Okayama, Japan – Part 4 –
What to see in Fukiya surrounding area (3)
[The Nishie residence]
This house is located on the opposite side of the Hirokane residence and there is no bus service to/from the village centre in the off season, and even in the high season, a cyclic bus goes there only once a day.
However, a bus is running to/from the Takahashi station a few times a day in all seasons.
So, in the off season, it’s better to go to the Nishie residence first from Takahashi (about an hour ride), then walk up the road to the village centre (probably takes an hour).
Or, walk down from the village centre towards there on the last day of your stay and take a bus to Takahashi.
Or just rent a car or hire a taxi!
It’s not an easy location to reach without a car, but it’s worth a visit.
The Nishie family is another wealthy merchant who made a huge profit from copper mining and “bengara”.
Unlike the Hirokane residence, the family still lives here.
Mrs. Nishie told me some interesting stories about the house like why owners of the mine resided below the mountain.
According to her, ores glitter in the dark.
Copper glows red and silver white, so they look at their mine in the night to know where to dig.
I don’t remember which colour gold glows, but I think it’s yellow.
You cannot see the ores glittering any more because there are too many trees.
In the Edo era, the government gave the family authorization to run the area as a local governor.
That means the family could hold a trial when needed in their residence.
The court at that time was called “Shirasu”, the graveled place inside the premises.
Where to sit down depended on the status of people (defendant(s) and witness(es)) who appeared in court.
Common people like farmers sat down on a straw mat on the gravel.
The judge sat in the room, of course the highest place in the court.
The family also held “Terakoya”, a private educational institution for commoners’ children (including girls) to teach the three Rs – wRiting, Reading and aRithmetics.
It’s fascinating to know there was a private residence with a court and a school!
I took only three photos there.
The last photo of this place is the “Irori” that I used in “Saru Kani Gassen” post.
-About “Kadomatsu” (literally, a gate pine tree)-
A traditional ornament for New Year which is placed by the front door or the main gate.
“Kadomatsu” is thought to be the place where “Toshi-gami” resides.
“Toshi-gami” is a symbol of harvest and ancestor’s spirit, who visits people in New Year.
It’s also a landmark for Gods to come down to our world.
There were lots of “Terakoya” throughout Japan, and it is said that literacy in Japan was relatively high.
The government just had to put a notice board to let people know about new orders, bans, etc., because there was somebody who could read it out for others.
In 1887, the Meiji government made a research about literacy.
According to that, 50-60% boys and 40% girls in Okayama could write and read.
At “Terakoya”, children also learnt “Soroban”, an abacus.
A manual book for the “Soroban” called “Jinkouki”, which was first issued in 1627, became a bestseller in the Edo period.
The book contained not only how to add, subtract, divide and multiply with “Soroban”, but also arithmetic puzzles, practical lessons like how to calculate the areas of fields, etc.
[A sample problem in “Jinkouki”]
There are 3 horses for 4 people to go on a road that is 6 (km or mile, any unit of distance will do) long.
To ride on an equal distance for each people, what should they do?
(Only one person can ride on one horse)
People enjoyed solving mathematical problems.
Some people even dedicated mathematical “Ema” (a wooden plaques with people’s wishes and/or appreciation to God) to shrines or temple in the Edo era.
This kind of “Ema” is called “Sangaku”, a math tablet.
Some people offered a tablet with only a question, and another person who solved it donated a tablet with its answer.
The number of existing “Sangaku” from the Edo period is now only about 400.
If you are interested in “Sangaku” example, there is one in Wikipedia.
To me, people at that time seemed to be a bunch of geniuses.
There is a restaurant where you can try “Bengara curry” in the Fukiya village.
It’s Southern Indian style because the name of “Bengara” is said to be derived from “Bengal” region in Southern India.
Its colour looks similar to “Bengara” colouring, but of course it does not really contain “Bengara”.
Retort-packed “Bengara” curry is also sold.
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