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SIGHTSEEING IN JAPAN (Kansai Area)

”üŽR’¬  Miayama Town

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Last update May 3, 2011





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Sightseeing Glossary
Glossary Detailed Explanation
ACCESS: Direct bus service called "Miyama Nature Goh" (”üŽRƒlƒCƒ`ƒƒ[†) from Katsura (Œj) station (Hankyu Railway, Kyoto line); only available on an irregular basis. Another bus service from Sonobe (‰€•”) station (JR San'in Honsen line) is also provisionally available. (http://www.kayabukinosato.com/)

Slip into a Village Two Hundred Years Ago
A Living Museum of Grass-Thatched Houses and Rural Life Once Upon a Time in Japan.

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A Place Where Time Slowly Flows...

So, what age would we be in? Meiji period (1868 - 1912), or early years of Showa (1926 - 1989)? Asked this question, no Japanese probably can tell the exact timeline the village may belong to, but there is one thing they all can share: nostalgia, in one way or another. Old timers might say they remember their childhood when there was no TV, air conditioner, or refrigerator; days when rice paddies were plowed by animal power and planted by a line of people instead of a machine. Urban residents with countryside roots would think of their old sweet homeland, feeling a bit of bitterness of guilt for things they have left behind. The young generation might be inspired, or a little sentimental over what they have missed in the stream of history.

This is a small village named Kitayama, the home of Kayabuki (grass-thatched) houses, located in Miyama town, Kyoto prefecture -- several hours car ride from Kyoto city. The entire village is a living museum of old rural houses thatched by the plant called kaya, kind of susuki or Miscanthus sinensis. Thirty eight houses out of around fifty households in the village are roofed with the plants, and the oldest house dates back to the middle of the Edo period (1603 - 1867).

Kayabuki, Traditional Craftsmanship Rarely Found Today

Kayabuki is the special thatching technique of combining kaya plants with straws and bamboo sticks into a simple but functional roofing, which requires months of preparation, meticulous care as well as long-time experience and expertise. To maintain the condition and functionality of the roof, periodical maintenance every decade is necessary, and an organization composed of local residents manages the operation. The village has been registered as an important "Group of Traditional Buildings" by the Japanese government under the law for protecting cultural properties. The Kayabuki buildings in this village are specifically called Kitayama style houses.

Every season stages the distinct beauty of the village. In spring, basked in warm sunshine, colorful flowers begin to decorate the ambience. With carp streamers swinging in the sky, summer is on its way, preceded by gorgeous hydrangeas. Then comes the cosmos, buckwheat flowers, the autumn festival, red and yellow tree leaves... Finally winter arrives; harsh and austere, yet it's a season of white, purified beauty. For seasonal scenes, see the slide show on the site: http://www.kayabukinosato.com/.
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