An Art-Filled Golden Week

2009 2009.5.6


投稿者:Toru Nakahara

On May 2, there was a lecture event at the Kaizen Center. The lecturer was Kan’ichi Nomoto, professor emeritus at Kinki University, and director of the Yanagida Kunio Memorial Ina Folklore Research Institute. Apparently whenever he is invited somewhere to lecture, he arrives two or three days in advance and does field research about the area.

In Kamiyama’s case, he arrived on April 30, and built up his knowledge about Kamiyama. Mr. Higashidani and I were his guides.

He had come to Tokushima several times, but this was his first visit to Kamiyama.

On May 1, we showed him the “ofunato-san,” small shrines made of piled up rocks which can be seen all over Kamiyama. They are meant to help with childbirth and protect children.

Orono, Jinryo, Shimobun, Kamibun, these can be seen in every part of Kamiyama.

A square structure is made of piled-up rocks, and twelve round stones are placed inside the structure. They’re located in the corner of a field, near a house’s gate. Long ago, women had a lot of children. If a woman had thirteen children, people would say, “She’s outdone Ofunato-san.”

We even found one in that Nationally Designated Important Cultural Property, the Aihara's home garden.

We can always count on the Aiharas. What a lovely Ofunato-san they have. Professor Nomoto says this tradition was originally for another purpose. He also tells us that the tradition is detailed in the Kojiki.

On this day, I got to see a lot of Ofunato-san and I learned a lot. Despite our hectic schedule, we also managed to spot another, very rare little shrine called No-bo-san, in Sochi. The professor seemed quite surprised to see it.

The theme of his talk was “Mountains, Trees, and Forests.”

After two days of thorough field research, he spoke at the Kaizen Center on Saturday the 2nd. About a hundred people came to listen. It was very well recieved. After the professor’s talk, we enjoyed a presentation by the two Finnish photographers who have been staying in Kamiyama and taking photos of Kamiyama’s woods.

They gave a presentation about the kind of work they'd been doing in Finland.

Finland is blessed with many forests and lakes. The ancient Finnish people believed that there were spirits in the great trees of the forest and in the animals (particularly bears) and they protected them accordingly. Those beliefs were tossed away by the advent of Christianity. Also, the demand for paper has resulted in vast deforestation and the beautiful Finnish woods are being destroyed.

The two women have searched far and wide for these holy trees and recorded them with their photographs. They’re sounding the alarm bell to alert people to the rift that is growing between humans and nature.

A collection of their photographs is on display in the Myozai Sake Warehouse which is located on the road behind the Michi no Eki in Uetsuno, Kamiyama. If you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by for a look.

Getting ready for our Kamiyama-style dinner party.

We always hold an international dinner party during our autumn Kamiyama artist in residence program. On this day, too, we felt it would be a pity to end the day with just a lecture and presentation, so we planned a dinner party so that everyone could have a chance to chat with our distinguished guests. The Kamiyama staff were up at the Kaizen Center from dawn getting the food ready.

Some out of town visitors also helped with the food. Everyone had a specialty which they prepared, and after the lecture event ended, everyone came down to the first floor for the party. About sixty people joined in the fun.

A traditional Finnish dish, karjalanpiirakka.

The two Finnish photographers, Ritva and Sunni, had been working on their dishes since the day before. The result was karjala…umm I think I bit my tongue trying to pronounce it.

We Nakaharas did our usual fruit platter.

A huge variety of food was laid out for the crowd. We had plenty of the usual gang in attendance as well as a bunch of new faces, and it was a really fun party.

A quick shot of the scene.

While we were preparing the food, some people worried that we’d have a lot of leftovers if no one showed up, but our fears were unfounded.

A party's got to have music, right? We've got it covered!

John and Shaun, who played a concert benefitting KAIR recently in Tokushima City, were on hand to play some tunes at the party.

There was even a pantomiming clown!

The children were overjoyed with the appearance of a clown. Of course it wasn’t just the children who were pleased. Our two photographer guests let us hear their beautiful singing voices.

They sang a Finnish love song.

The two photographers sang with beautiful harmony. According to Mr. Shibata’s translation, their song was a Finnish love song.

Professor Nomoto also joined in the fun.

The next person to take the stage was today’s lecturer, Professor Nomoto. What a surprise! He played Que Sera Sera and some other tunes. We got to see another side of this folk historian.

Then some weird guy took the stage.

Next to take the stage was Kamiyama’s number one “funny old man.” Just as he was getting to the climax of his performance, a slipper went flying in his direction. I couldn’t say who was responsible for that, however…

Tomorrow (May 3), Mr. Ominami and a small group are headed to Shodoshima… I’m acting as a guide for some visiting students from Kyoto Art University. The next day (May 4), I’ll go to Tokushima Station to pick up a Romanian student who is studying at Tokyo Art University and take her on an art tour of Kamiyama.

Shouldn’t the elderly be able to relax…? Oh, I said the taboo word. When I complained, these kind (!?) words were the response: “We’ve got to take advantage of you now – who knows when you’ll just up and die?”


Toru Nakahara

KAIR & GreenValley supporter (~2012)

Articles by Toru Nakahara


  • I wish I was there, I really miss Kamiyama and all my friends in it! It's lovely to see pictures of you all. Nikolai seems to have lots of fun!

    05/06/2009 3:57 PM | Andea Dezsö

  • Thank you Andea ! when you'll come back to Kamiyama again I shall sing for you very well ♪

    05/06/2009 10:03 PM | ニコライ

  • mmmm. piirakka, the delicious nordic tacos that have inspired the elderly to dance since the dawn of time.

    05/06/2009 3:41 AM | adam

  • the elderly ・・・・it's me ? just inspired down (dawn)

    05/06/2009 7:55 AM | ニコライ

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