Yashima in the northeastern part of Takamatsu City in Kagawa Prefecture is where the Heike built a fortress after a long string of defeats by the Genji and fought a fierce battle of Yashima with the forces led by Minamoto no Yoshitsune in 1185.
Shikoku Minka Museum located in this town of Yashima is an open-air museum, where old rural houses and other historic buildings from various parts of Shikoku have been transported and rebuilt to create a townscape of the old days. The restored buildings include an old guard station and the store house of the Marugame domain, and the Farmers’ Kabuki Theater, which is a very precious historic building and a prefecturally designated cultural property.
You can walk from house to house along the promenade. On the southern hillside is an art museum Shikoku Gallery, where a lot of works of art collected by the founder of Shikoku Minka Museum are exhibited. A beautiful water garden can be viewed from its balcony.
Porotokotan located on Lake Poroto in Shiraoi Town in the western part of Hokkaido is the restored ancient village of the Ainu people. “Porotokotan” means “a village on a large pond” in the Ainu language. There are four houses called chise with thatched roofs in the traditional Ainu architectural style. The village was restored in 1965 and was open to the public for the preservation of Ainu culture. Later the Ainu Museum was established in the village.
Inside a chise, explanations on Ainu history and culture are given. Also, the performance of the mukkuri, an Ainu musical instrument, and traditional Ainu dances, which are nationally designated Important Intangible Cultural Properties, are given all the time for the visitors. Why don’t you sit down for a while to enjoy their fascinating music and dancing? It will allow you to be a part of Ainu’s cultural history.
The Historical Village of Hokkaido located in Ashibetsu-cho, Ashibetsu-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido is a theme park to show what pioneer life was like in Hokkaido. This outdoor museum was open to the public in 1983 as a part of the undertaking of the centennial commemoration of Hokkaido. The park covers an area of 54.2 ha, where many buildings in all parts of Hokkaido were removed and restored to show people’s lives, industry, economy and culture in olden day Hokkaido. The site is divided into Town, Fishing Village, Farm Village, and Mountain Village sectors. Horse drawn trolleys in summer and sleighs in winter provide transportation for visitors along the main street. Besides, there are many delightful entertainments throughout the year such as the hands-on-experience classes of traditional toy making or straw work, demonstration of puffed rice making and various street performances. The visitors will learn and experience the lifestyle of the pioneering period in Hokkaido.
Big Cedar is a tree in Small-Cedar district, and is near the village of Sakegawa, in Mogami County, Yamagata prefecture.
Although the great cedar tree might look like a couple of trees, it is in fact a single tree standing among paddy fields. Its base is 6.3m in circumference and it is 20m tall. It is said to be more than 1000 years old.
Because it has two big trunks, it is also called the 'Couple Cedar' or 'Marriage-Tie Cedar'. In addition, owing to its resemblance to a tree seen in the movie, 'Tonari-no-Totoro', it has lately gained more fame and come to be called 'Totoro's tree'.
The tree is venerated by the village and a mountain deity has been enshrined at its base.
Usually, a cedar tree tends to grow narrow and high in order to get more sunshine and survive. But, because there has been nothing other than rice fields around the tree, it has leisurely spread out to receive much sunshine.
Iya Valley is located near the town of Miyoshi, in Tokushima Prefecture.
It lies along the course of the Iya River, a branch of the Yoshino River, and its total length is as much as 10km. The 100 meter-difference in elevation along the ravine and the overgrown trees make for great views unique to an isolated deep valley. The district is known to have been a refuge for the Taira clan and is said to be one of the three major secluded districts of Japan with houses here and there at the foot of the mountain. Because the level of the Iya River often rises and the valley is so steep, it was very difficult to cross the river so a bridge between villages was built. This is Kazura Bridge in West-Iya Mountain, and is designated an Important Folkloric Cultural Asset. There is also a double Kazura Bridge in West-Iya Mountain.
Iya buckwheat noodle is very popular around here and, in addition, konjak plant is cultivated here. The Iya hot spring located here makes the district even more attractive as a sightseeing place.
Gokanosho is the name for the area consists of five former villages: Nitao village, Momigi village, Kureko village, Shiibaru village, and Hagi village. These villages are known as Heike refugee legend. This area is known as the last unexplored parts of Kyushu, where remains abundant nature with tsuribashi (hanging bridges) and waterfalls. There are 5 tsuribashis: the Umenoki Todoro Park Tsuribashi, the Momiki no Tsuribashi, the Kureko no Tsuribashi, the Sendantodoro Tsuribashi, and Shiraiwato Park Tsuribashi. Sendantodoro no Taki (the Sendantodoro Waterfall) is a large waterfall with a height of 70 meters, which was selected as one of Japan’s 100 Fine Waterfalls in 1990. One of the hanging bridges, the Momigi no Tsuribashi actually consists of the two bridges. The larger one, “Ayatori-bashi (the cat’s cradle bridge),” which was reconstructed in 1989, has the unique structure in which the floor boards themselves are directly suspended. The other hanging bridge “Shakunage-bashi (the alpine rose bridge)”was later built 30 meters downstream from this bridge. Seen from the nearby observatory, the two large and small bridges across the ravine are especially beautiful in the season of autumn leaves.
he collection of villages comprising Gasshou-zukuri farmhouses located in Shirakawago of Gifu pref. and Gokakuyama of Toyama pref. was designated as a World Cultural and Heritage Site in 1996. Shirakawago is generally referred to as a village at Ogimachi in Shirakawa region. Most of the farmhouses were built between the late Edo Period and early Meiji Period.
Gasshou-Zukuri, or Gasshou-style, is made by laying timbers on beams to form a high mountain like shape and are characterized by a steep thatched roof. Its tall triangular roof is designed to displace heavy snow. The houses are built aligned in a north south direction so that they can minimize the wind’s effect and also receive plenty of sunlight; it is an effective system to keep the house cool in the summer and warm in winter.
Bruno Taut, a German architect, described the design in his book as “It is considerably logical and rational, and architecture designed for the common people which is rare in Japan”. This helped introduce Shirakawago to the world.
The view looking out over hundreds of Gasshou-Zukuri houses is full of serenity and may bring back fond memories of the landscape of your childhood home town.
Sannai Maruyama Historical Sitein Aomori City is one of Japan’s largest historical sites dating from the Jomon era. The existance of the site was known as early as in the Edo period. It was revealed by the excavation research made in the Showa period that the site was the ruins of large colonies where people lived in permanent settlements which dated back to the Jomon period (about 4,000 to 55,00 years ago). Many remains of large and small pit dwellings, large and small buildings with supporting pillars, storage pits, mounds of debris, clay mining pits, refuse disposal pits, roads and graves for both children and adults were discovered at the site. The concrete images of the natural environment, people’s lives and village community life have became clear through the excavations conducted several times. The site was designated as a Special National Historical Site in 2000. It is open to public all through the year.