Tobe Mukashi no Kurashikan
To most Japanese people, Tobe calls to mind Tobe-yaki, a type of ceramic known throughout Japan. Of course, there are plenty of places in Tobe to see a wonderful variety of ceramics, and this is ample reason for a visit. But another reason to go to Tobe is to see the Mukashi no Kurashikan, or the House of Yesteryear’s Living.
This is a collection of bric-a-brac gathered over the past century by the wife of a local doctor, now in her 90s. The collection is packed into a sprawling old building with a different theme for each room – clothing, dolls, agricultural equipment, pop culture, pottery and so on. The building includes a warehouse for storing the ceramics produced in Tobe. This is the only building of its kind left.
There’s enough in here to fill a museum six times the size. When I visited, a very gracious local lady took me around, explaining the use of many unfamiliar articles from the last century, including a Sputnik-like device that turned out to be a hand-turned washing machine. The museum represents a celebration of traditional materials and forms.
Kimonos and women’s things
Much of the first floor is taken up with clothing and toys from the Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods. There are some fantastically colourful kimono, including quilted varieties from the cold north of Japan that must have been extremely cumbersome to wear. There’s also a collection of the rigid wooden ‘pillows’ that women used to use to preserve their elaborate hair arrangements intact while they slept. I was particularly interested in the large ceramic bottles that look like flower vases – they’re actually containers used for purchasing sake from the brewery.
Agricultural tools and militaria
After showing us the finery on the first floor, the guide apologetically noted that on the second floor there were only agricultural implements. Being something of a horticulturalist myself, I was keen to see these, and the lady was clearly gratified by my enthusiasm. There were indeed stacks and rows of farm tools of all descriptions, but also military uniforms, canteens, and a beautiful set of wooden measuring boxes, arranged inside each other like Russian dolls.
Help preserve this valuable heritage
The house is opened only twice a year, once during the autumn festival in early November. However, you can call (089) 962-2428 to make an appointment at other times too. Sadly, this whole area is scheduled for demolition so that a pointless new road can be built. Please visit this fascinating museum to show that these old things are more valuable than fresh tarmac.
Originally from England, I came to live in Ehime in 2001. I’m interested in the history of the Suigun, seagoing clans who dominated the Seto Inland Sea for two centuries. I find it very relaxing to photograph the beautiful scenery and the wildlife. I hope people will visit Setouchi and enjoy exploring this unique area. To help visitors make the most of their time here, I offer travel services at ShikokuTours.com. Be sure to try the excellent sake when you visit!
> A guided tour, including teatime, where you can see the former “Koshien Hotel” – “Frank Lloyd Wright type” architecture by Arata Endo. / Koshien Hall at Mukogawa Women’s University (Nishinomiya-shi, Hyogo)
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
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