2016.3.3
Ehime

The Laid-Back Village in one of Japan’s Top 100 Most Scenic Areas!

Driving 12km west from Uchiko town, Ehime prefecture, you come to a beautiful village in a rural landscape of terraced rice paddies that stretch as far as the eye can see.

Chosen as one of the top 100 places of scenic beauty in Japan, this time we will introduce the Ishidatami area.

Almost as if stepping into the scenery of an ancient folktale, the quiet village is surrounded by mountains and traditional Japanese scenery.

People come from far and wide in search of abundant nature and the picturesque, nostalgic views.

This is Ishidatami Seiryu-en, a spot we particularly recommend visiting in the Ishidatami area. 

Until 1955, there were some 30 watermills here. As locals wanted to once again see them in action, they worked together on a reconstruction program that has created three traditional style watermills, which could be straight from a picture book. Rice is polished under the watchful eye of local farmers.

Numerous covered bridges span the beautiful Fumoto River close to the watermills. This one is at a spot known for fireflies in early June. 

As the area is beautiful in a different way every season, I like visiting often. 

Ten minutes drive along the mountain road from the Ishidatami Seiryu-en brings you to another beautiful covered bridge.

Constructed of chestnut timber, the picturesque ”Taikobashi” spans Yuge pond, which is located in the grounds of Yuge Shrine. As well as leading the way to the shrine, it’s a popular spot that I also recommend for people who like taking photographs. 

After crossing Taikobashi bridge, I’m welcomed by a very cute guardian lion-dog with monetary offerings in its mouth…

Beyond the lion-dog awaits the front shrine.

Situated in the quiet of the mountains, the ancient Yuge Shrine was built during the Muromachi Era (1333-1573). The building itself is not very big, but it’s dedicated to Amaterasu Ookami (the sun goddess), who is also enshrined at the Ise Grand Shrine.

The origins of the shrine go back to the time the deity moved here from Yuge Shrine on Yuge Island, which floats in the Seto Inland Sea. In olden times, people would take their gods with them when they moved to a new place, so shrines also bear the history of the people.

This is the main shrine building.

Built at a slightly higher altitude, the vicinity of the main building seems to have a somewhat sacred air. 

Surrounded by some houses, a short distance from the shrine you can find the Kawaji spring. There is a signboard, but as it’s a bit hard to find, make your way slowly while searching for it.

Clear, clean water has been flowing from the spring endlessly since ancient times. Finding such water, I’m happy to be in Japan.

Rice harvested on a mountain-slope field… the scene reminds me of ancient Japan. 

Taking your time to admire such rural scenery really calms the mind. Including the kind of villages found in ancient folk tales, the Ishidatami area has the kind of traditional Japanese scenery we would like to preserve forever.

 

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Ishidatami Area Yuge Shrine

Location: Higashi, Ishidatami, Uchiko, Kita district, Ehime prefecture
Tel: 0893-44-3790 (Uchiko Visitor Center)
Parking: Not available 

Ishidatami Seiryu-en

Location: Ishidatami, Uchiko, Kita district, Ehime prefecture
Tel: 0893-44-3790 (Uchiko Visitor Center)
Parking: Available (10 vehicles)
http://www.we-love-uchiko.jp/spot_suburbs/  (Japanese)
http://www.we-love-uchiko.jp/wp-content/themes/uchiko_wp/english.pdf (some information in English) 

Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Maki Oshima

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