Utsumi and Handa in Chita Peninsula: Local history explorations are very interesting!

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     “I’m here because of this!” Satsuki said that and sipped sake or Japanese rice wine, and then smiled. “Wow! You were the first to get sake!” Ms. Kato said and rolled her eyes. utsumi4

     The tour participants (I took part in a tour around Chita Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture on December 2nd. First we visited a small village called Okada. I wrote about it here: http://wp.me/p16bjt-t3 ) left Okada and headed for Utsumi. Before arriving, we dropped into a restaurant named Morita Aji-no-yakata in Tokoname to have lunch. utsumi 2

     We ate “miso-dengaku”, which is grilled tofu and konjac with soy beans paste for lunch at the restaurant. That was excellent! You can taste some kinds of sake for free as many times as you like. Many of the tour participants enjoyed tasting sake. utsumi3

     Morita Aji-no-yakata, the restaurant, is converted from an old factory fermenting soy beans, run by Morita. Co. Ltd. (Miso and sake maker). Its 15th head was Akio Morita, who was one of the founders of Sony Corporation. That is why there is an exhibition room of his works in the restaurant. utsumi16

      Being cheerful mood with drink and a sense of satiety, we got into our chartered bus again and set to Utsumi, which is well-known for its basing beach that attracts many people in summer. But it was very cold that day in December, and there was no one at the beach facing gray water. utsumi10

     There are the remains of the old resident of the Uchida near Utsumi beach. The Utsumi family used to flourish as a shipping agent in the 19th Century. Their cargo vessels not only carried merchants’ good such as rice and salt but also bought out those goods and turned them over for higher prices. Therefore the Uchida family generated enormous money. utsumi8

     However Japan’s level of maritime engineering was quite low in the period and their vessels were wrecked at a rate of 30 %. Hence the Uchida had home shrines of seven different gods. The Uchida became richer for the lives of crews than samurai warriors in the area. utsumi9

     They had money but were inferior to samurai. They could have bought anything they wanted, but they couldn’t have. For example, they had to give up having intricate interior décor or a tea-ceremony house. Those things were for the status of samurai bladesmen, and banned for merchants to have them. utusmi7

     But the Uchida wanted those items. Therefore they made a hidden room for tea ceremony. It is not a tea-ceremony house or room, but you can see it in the glance. They hid the room tactfully from samurai. Moreover, they could not have elaborate transom windows but used first-class wood for their interior. That is interesting because of showing one of the circumstances of the class society in the Edo period.

     There is a temple named Jiko-ji near the old house. It has a stone statue of Buddha and is called “Ago-nashi-jizo”. “Ago-nashi-jizo” means literarily a Buddha’s image without chin. People believe the statue has a power stopping toothache because it has no chin.

     After visiting the old temple, we went to Handa Museum in Handa City. Some guides of Chita Peninsula Systematized Goodwill Guide Club explained in English at the museum. Handa is famous for a festival of dashi floats. The 31 floats which are over 7 meters high with highly decorations march around the town once in five years. Next festival is in October, 2017. I would like to watch the spectacle show!utsumi18

     The tour was very interesting because I was able to find many new things through the event. Japan has many traditional and historical things, and I know little about them. I would like to discover those things and to introduce them here.

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