2015.12.11
Okayama

Time slip to the Meiji Era : Rouge Colored Town & Japan’s Oldest Wooden School Building!

In a mountain valley of the Kibi plateau there is a village with red roofs. 

 

 

The Fukiya district grew as a copper mining town in the early Edo period. The town prospered as Japan's only production area for red iron oxide (rouge) from the end of Edo period through the Meiji period. Its history is still clearly visible. 

 
 

Red iron oxide was used to create red pigment. In Fukiya, even the plaster walls and the window grates of the buildings are colored with rouge.

 

After building their fortunes, wealthy merchants commissioned temple and shrine carpenters from Sekishu, Shimane prefecture to build estates with a similar concept, befitting the image of the red iron oxide production area.

The roofs of the buildings are red because they are covered with Sekishu roof tiles, which are among Japan's three most famous clay roof tile types, as well as Shioda roof tiles made from the same clay.  

 

 

And it's not just the houses; the main building of Motoyamasan Shrine has also been colored in red iron oxide.  

 
 
The town's symbolic color is even used for small bus stop signs.

 

 

In use until March 2012, this is the former Fukiya elementary school building. It too matches the townscape. Both the east and west school buildings were completed in 1900. 

 
 

The main building (middle) was built in 1909, and together they are said to be the oldest wooden school buildings in Japan.

 

If you take a look through the window, you can still see cleaning equipment lined up in the hallway, almost as if waiting for the children to do their chores. 

 

 

Maintenance and repair work started this year; the building is due to be recommissioned as a museum in 5 years time. 

In 1974, Fukiya became Okayama prefecture's "Furusato Village" (hometown village), after which the area was designated as one of Japan's Important Traditional Architecture Preservation Districts. In 2012, the town was recognized for its townscape with an award.

 

Advanced town planning from the late Edo period through the Meiji period, and the efforts of residents who have continued to protect the townscape since is being recognized.

 

 

Grown and harvested in backyards, here are some vegetables being quietly sold.

By the way, did you know that in Takahashi city there is a B-grade gourmet dish made with special tomatoes? 

 

 

Befittingly, its called "Indian Tomato Yakisoba".

 

Apparently, it is made by adding Takahashi's specialty (tomatoes) to a dish called "Indian Yakisoba", which is a well-known curry-flavored yakisoba dish that was served as a school lunch in the area in the 1980s. 

I tried the dish at Juju-tei, a restaurant located near JR Bitchu-Takashi station. The spiciness, the soft egg, and the fresh tomatoes make the flavor so round, I just can't stop eating… 

 

 

After filling your stomach here, we recommend taking a ride along the mountain road to Fukiya!

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Fukiya Furusato Village
Location: 838-2 Fukiya, Nariwa-cho, Takahashi city, Okayama prefecture
Tel: 0866-29-2222 (Nariwa-cho Tourist Association Fukiya Branch)
http://takahasikanko.or.jp/modules/spot/index.php?content_id=21 (Japanese)

 

Juju-tei
Location: 1967 Masamune-cho, Takahashi city, Okayama prefecture
Open: 11:00-15:00 (Last orders at 14:30), 17:00-21:00 (Last orders at 20:30)
Closed: Thursdays
Tel: 0866-23-1211
http://www.takahashi-bgourmet.com/archives/77.html (Japanese)

 

Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori

 

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Written by

Madoka Hori

Madoka Hori

Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328

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