11 October: We visited the Hida Folk Village, which has gathered together in a realistic setting a large number of village buildings that had been relocated after being flooded out or threatened in their original sites. Normally this is frowned upon by archaeologists, but in this case it has been done very sensitively and the result is a most interesting site that illuminates much rural village life. The Folk Village is on the slopes of a mountain just to the south of Takayama. Next we’ll move on to the wonderful art nouveaux Hida Museum of Art nearby.
We visited the Kusakabe Mingei-kan, the house of a wealthy merchant family (re-built 1879), with its two stories of Japanese cypress, private living quarters, heavy roof beams and wooden roof tiles, kitchen, laundry and servants quarters, tatami floors,sliding screen doors and courtyard gardens. Beautifully preserved, the Kusakabe house offers exceptional insight into the way people were living and working in this lovely civilian town. Next, the Hida Folk Village.
Continuing our 2013 Japan trip, we went on 9 October by train from Kanazawa to Takayama in the mountains. We stayed in one of our favourite hotels, the Associa. We had a large room in faux Parisian style and with great views of the beautiful mountain before us. Takayama had been a fortified army town but at the beginning of the Edo period, in a campaign to weaken the power of the feudal lords (Daimyo), it was ruled directly by the Shogun (Tenryo system), the castle was demolished, the samurai left and Takayama henceforth became a town of civilians and administrative centre. The town Jinya, or prefectural government office, has luckily been conserved and is the only remaining example of such a building left in Japan. It is a fascinating complex, with public sections for the work of government, private living quarters for high officials and their families, kitchens, laundries and work areas, plus large rice storerooms (taxes were paid here in rice). The building is wood, with shingle roof, tatami floors, wooden and rice sliding screens, and garden courtyards, also a prison and punishment area (not quite the “torture room” of the Lonely Planet!). We then went on to explore the lovely old streets in the Jinya’s proximity [to be continued].
“Merton contrasts the illusory freedom of the artist ‘in revolt’ against society, DEFINED by his revolt and limited by it, who ‘cultivates antiart as a protest against the art cult of the society in which he lives’, with the true freedom which the artist should enjoy, ‘freedom from the INTERNALIZED emotional pressures by which society holds hum down’….
the dilemma of the artist is identical with the dilemma of the monk: each, at one level, rejects society, but has to guard against being defined by this rejection… the monk or artist must beware of locating all the demons of the age outside himself: the artist, like the monk, has an interior wilderness to discover”
[Rowan Williams, A Silent Action: Engagements with Thomas Merton, 2011,p.37].