In Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, there is a particular district that resembles the streetscapes of the Edo Period (1603~1867).
Accompany me on this, the second part of a 2-part series entitled “A Stroll Through The White-Walled Streetscape of Edo, and I will continue to show you some of its delights!
Last time we finished our walk after visiting Sagawa Shoyu. Today’s walk starts right next door!
The first stop is Yanai Nishigura, home of the fabled textile known as Yanai-jima, or Yanai stripes. Visitors can try their hand at making it themselves here.
The booking starts at 13:00. This is a great opportunity to get rid of that pesky sleepiness that tends to follow a good lunch. The constant, unyielding rhythm of the working looms was quite pleasant, and beautiful coasters were made right before my eyes. I could feel the sleepiness vanishing from my body.
Next, I followed Kakeyashoji, a narrow passageway, which led me to…
The Yanai River. The riverbank is dotted with old stone staircases.
Known as gangi, they were used to move goods and merchandise between the river and the riverbank.
Yanai used to flourish as a merchants’ town. Everyday, incredible amounts of goods arrived by ship. The merchant houses were built close to the river to make transportation as effortless as possible. Sitting on the stairs and gazing at the river, I could imagine how it used to look back in those days.
A little further down the road is Kingyochochin, or Goldfish Lantern. For the last stop of my walk, I visited the atelier of the father of the lantern, Kawamura Nobuo (河村信男工房).
The origin of the goldfish lantern goes back more than 150 years, and it is one of the local folk crafts of Yanai. While lanterns of many sizes are sold at the atelier, visitors can also try to make one themselves.
The traditional crafting techniques have been passed down from generation to generation. Every single movement tells a different story. Despite using the same materials and the same process, curiously, each goldfish has a slightly different expression depending on who made it.
Though there are still many things to say about the district, for now my walk ends here. The next time you come to Yanai, please be sure to go for a stroll around this lovely area.
● Yanai Nishigura
Address: 3700-8 Yanai, Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Open: 9:00 – 17:00
Closed: Tuesdays and end-of-year holidays (if Tuesday is a public holiday, the following day will be closed instead)
Lessons (booking time): Yanai-jima coaster 13:00 – 16:00, Kingyochochin 10:00 – 16:00
● Kawamura Nobuo Kobo
Address: 495-1 Yanaitsu Aza Furuichi, Yanai City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Business hours: 11:00 – 16:00
Closed: Fridays + other unscheduled holidays
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Masafumi Fujimoto
Masafumi Fujimoto Hi there! My name is Masafumi Fujimoto. Until the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, I was engaged in editing production at an advertising company in Tokyo. However, the earthquake was a turning point in my life and I headed home to Yamaguchi. When I arrived, I was extremely energized and motivated to help revitalize the region, but I had a hard time adjusting to the motivation level of the local people. Around that time I met an elderly lady who said: "It doesn't matter if all the people move away from the island; that's just the nature of things. Someday people will come back again." Lessening the tension I’d been feeling, those few words relieved me hugely, and I was able to finally adjust. Since then, I've been involved in writing and editing magazines, and working in advertisement production, as well as doing a little bit of farming. I also spend time walking around Setouchi searching for the many, many voices out there.
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