Tottori Folk Crafts Museum (鳥取民芸美術館)

5. March 2017

Have a look and be amazed – thanks to Shōya Yoshida

Tottori Mingei Bijutsukan (鳥取民芸美術館)

Tottori Mingei Bijutsukan (鳥取民芸美術館)

Eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.
A German version of this posting you can find here.

You don’t know Shōya Yoshida (吉田璋也 / よしだしょうや)? The term “folk crafts” doesn’t ring any bell? Well, with question marks like that on your minde you may not be in the best of companies, but you are just admitting to gaps in education that can easily and joyfully be closed by this little posting.

In order to really understand the Folk Crafts Museum of Tottori (鳥取民芸美術館 / とっとりみんげいびじゅつかん) and its more than 5,000 exhibits which is going to be introduced here, you need to know a bit about its “founding father”, Shōya Yoshida.

Yoshida, who was born on 17th January 1898 in the city of Tottori, the capital of the prefecture (he died on 13th September 1972), was a physician. In Japan he is regarded as one of the key figures when it comes to the “Folk Crafts” movement (民芸運動 / みんげいうんどう), that was developed in the late 20s and early 30s of the 20th century by Sōetsu (Muneyoshi) Yanagi (柳宗悦 / やなぎむねよし). The aim of this movement was to make the poeple aware of the beauty of traditional articles of daily use and to appreciate them beyond the prevailling taste of the time. Yanagi’s slogan was: objects created by average people rise above the criteria of “beauty” and “uglyness”.

The basic philosophy of the folk crafts movement is not entirely without a touch of a bad after taste, as it also encompasses also some nationalistic undertones that can neither be denied nor just explained with the main stream conception of society and history of its time.

Albeit, Shōya Yoshida is – among other things – still renowned in our days for his breathtaking designs that are modern and timeless at the same time. Some potters are still cultivating them. Probably the most famous of his pottery designs is the “ushinotoyaki”-(牛ノ戸焼 / うしのとやき) that still has such a modern touch that you might think it was invented just yesterday. Yoshidas perception of beautiful dishes for daily use is still living on, e.g. in the pottery workshops of the “Inshū Nakaigama” (因州中井窯 / いんしゅうなかいがま) in Nakai Kawaramachi, Tottori. The workshop’s head, Mr. Akira Sakamoto (坂本章 / さかもとあきら) in managing the place already in the third generation. The workshop’s kiln was built in 1945 by Toshiro Sakamoto (坂本俊郎 / さかもととしひろ) and became Shōya Yoshida’s official production site in 1952.

Here are some impressions from the pottery workshop::

If the visit to the folk crafts museum has put you in the right mood for shopping, just turn next door and pay the “Takumi Craft Shop” (たくみ工芸店 / たくみこうぎてん) a visit. There you can also buy the ceramic craft works coming from Akira Sakamoto’s workshop.

Address of the Museum:

Tottori Folk Crafts Museum
651 Sakaemachi, Tottori-shi,
Tottori-ken 〒680-0831

〒680-0831
鳥取県鳥取市栄町651
鳥取民芸美術館

Opening hours of the Museum:

Daily (except on Wednesdays): 10 am to 5 pm
Closed during the New Year holidays and during the installation of new exhibitions.

Admission fee:

Adults: 500 Yen
University students: 300 Yen (student ID necessary)
Seniors from 70 years of age and pupils: frei

Opening hours of the Takumi Craft Shop:

Daily (except on Wednesdays): 10 am to 6 pm
Closed during the New Year holidays.

Address of the pottery workshop and kiln “Inshū Nakaigama” (因州中井窯)

Inshū Nakaigama
Nakai 243-5
Kawaramachi, Tottori-shi
Tottori-ken, 〒680-1224
http://nakaigama.jp

因州中井窯
〒680-1224鳥取県鳥取市河原町243-5
http://nakaigama.jp

Further information about interesting places and venues in Tottori you can find here:

Kurayoshi (倉吉)
– The town of white walls and red roofs

Kotoura-chō (琴浦町)
– Stucco plasterers of the world – watch out!

Tottori Sand Museum (砂の美術館)
-Travel Around the World in Sand

Tottori: Wakasa (鳥取・若桜)
– A gem, hidden in the mountains

 


Tottori Volkskunst-Museum (鳥取民芸美術館)

3. March 2017

Schauen und Staunen dank Shōya Yoshida

Tottori Mingei Bijutsukan (鳥取民芸美術館)

Tottori Mingei Bijutsukan (鳥取民芸美術館)

Eine englische Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.
An English version of this posting you can find here.

Sie kennen Shōya Yoshida (吉田璋也 / よしだしょうや) nicht? Sie können mit dem Begriff „Volkskunst“ nichts anfangen? Damit befinden Sie sich zwar nicht unbedingt in guter Gesellschaft, aber Sie offenbaren damit nur Bildungslücken, die hiermit auf unterhaltsame Art und Weise geschlossen werden können.

Um das Volkskunst-Museum von Tottori (鳥取民芸美術館 / とっとりみんげいびじゅつかん), mit seinen über 5.000 Ausstellungsstücken, das hier vorgestellt werden soll, richtig zu verstehen, kommt man nicht ganz ohne Hintergrundwissen um seinen Gründervater Shōya Yoshida aus.


Yoshida, der am 17. Januar 1898 in der Stadt Tottori, der Hauptstadt der gleichnamigen Präfektur, geboren wurde (gestorben am 13. September 1972), war Arzt und gilt in Japan als eine der Schlüsselfiguren der „Volkskunst“-Bewegung (民芸運動 / みんげいうんどう), die in den späten 1920er und 1930er Jahren von Sōetsu (Muneyoshi) Yanagi (柳宗悦 / やなぎむねよし) entwickelt worden war. Diese Bewegung wollte die Schönheit von traditionellen Gebrauchsgegenständen bewusst machen und sie somit auch vom Zeitgeschmack losgelöst wertschätzen. Yanagis Motto war hierbei: Gegenstände, die von einfachen Leuten hergestellt werden, sind über die Maßstäbe von „Schönheit“ und „Hässlichkeit“ erhaben.

Die Philosophie der Volkskunst-Bewegung ist nicht gänzlich frei eines „Geschmäckles“, da in ihr auch nationalistische Untertöne mitschwingen, die nicht von der Hand zu weisen sind und nicht nur aus dem zeitlichen Zusammenhang ihres Entstehens zu erklären sind.

Dessen ungeachtet ist z.B. Shōya Yoshida heute noch berühmt und geachtet für seine atemberaubend modernen und doch zeitlos wirkenden Designs, die von einzelnen Töpfermeistern bis heute gepflegt werde. Am bekanntesten ist sicher sein wegweisendes „ushinotoyaki“-(牛ノ戸焼 / うしのとやき)-Design, das auch heute noch modern wirkt. Seine Vorstellungen von schönen Gebrauchs-Töpferwaren lebt z.B. in den Werkstätten des „Inshū Nakaigama“ (因州中井窯 / いんしゅうなかいがま) in Nakai Kawaramachi, Tottori, weiter, wo diese gepflegt werden. Die Töpferwerkstatt wird heute in dritter Generation von Herrn Akira Sakamoto (坂本章 / さかもとあきら) geführt. Der dortige Meiler für die Keramikproduktion wurde von Toshiro Sakamoto (坂本俊郎 / さかもととしひろ) im Jahre 1945 errichtet und 1952 von Shōya Yoshida zur offiziellen Produktionsstätte für sein Design erklärt.

Hier ein paar Impressionen aus der Töpferwerkstatt:

Wer sich im Volkskunst-Museum in die rechten Stimmung dazu gebracht hat, kann gleich nebenan im „Takumi Kunsthandwerks-Laden“ (たくみ工芸店 / たくみこうぎてん) die gewonnene Inspiration in Konsum umsetzen. U.a. können die oben erwähnten Keramiken aus den Werkstätten von Akira Sakamoto auch hier erworben werden.

Adresse des Museums:

Tottori Folk Crafts Museum
651 Sakaemachi, Tottori-shi,
Tottori-ken 〒680-0831

〒680-0831
鳥取県鳥取市栄町651
鳥取民芸美術館

Öffnungszeiten des Museums:

Täglich außer mittwochs: 10 Uhr bis 17 Uhr
Geschlossen während der Neujahrsfeiertage und während Ausstellungswechsel.

Eintrittsgebühr:

Erwachsene: 500 Yen
Studenten: 300 Yen (Studentenausweis erforderlich)
Senioren ab 70 Jahren und Schüler: frei

Öffnungszeiten des Takumi Kunsthandwerks-Ladens:

Täglich außer mittwochs von 10 Uhr bis 18 Uhr
Geschlossen an den Neujahrsfeiertagen.

Adresse der Töpferwerkstatt „Inshū Nakaigama“ (因州中井窯)

Inshū Nakaigama
Nakai 243-5
Kawaramachi, Tottori-shi
Tottori-ken, 〒680-1224
http://nakaigama.jp

因州中井窯
〒680-1224鳥取県鳥取市河原町243-5
http://nakaigama.jp

Weitere Artikel über Orte und Einrichtungen in Tottori finden Sie hier:

Kurayoshi (倉吉)
– Die Stadt der weißen Mauern und roten Dächer

Kotoura-chō (琴浦町)
– Bayerische Stuckmeister, aufgepasst!

Tottori Sand-Museum (砂の美術館)
– Eine Weltreise in Sand

Tottori: Wakasa (鳥取・若桜)
– Schmuckstück, versteckt in den Bergen


Tottori (鳥取): Wakasa (若桜) (Engl.)

21. February 2017

A gem, hidden in the mountains

Wakasa, Kura Dōri (若桜・蔵通り)

Wakasa, Kura Dōri (若桜・蔵通り)

Eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.
A German version of this posting you can find here.

At the end of non-electrified the railroad “Wakasa line” (若桜鉄道 / わかさてつどう), that is still regularly serviced by an old steam locomotive, you’ll find the town center of Wakasa (若桜 / わかさ), a village that, with quite a number of hamlets, streches out into the nearby valleys. It is surrounded by densely wooded mountains with peaks between 1,200 and 1,500 metres and is located about 30 km southeast of the prefecture’s capital, Tottori (鳥取市 / 鳥取市).

The little town never really gained historic significance, but in the old days its abundance of wood brought some splendor to it. From the Kamakura era (1185-1333) it is known, that Wakasa’s wood was brought down to the sea shore via the mountain rivers and shipped to Kamakura from there. During the Edo period (1603-1868) the cultivation of rice was intensified to meet the growing population’s demand. The plentifulness of the mountains’ waters offered the perfect foundation for it. But they also were the cause for terrible floodings (especially in 1815 and 1888).

Today Wakasa is mainly known for its steam locomotive, but also for its particularly delicious radish.

The tracks of the “Wakasa line” are just 19.2 km long. But since 1 Dec. 1930 they connect the town with the station of Kōge (郡家駅 / こうげえき) in Yazu (八頭町 / やずちょう) and from there it’s just a short ride to the prefectural capital. Until 1974 also freight was transported on this line, but in our days, it is just used for passenger trains. I’m writing so much about this railway, because Wakasa is particularly proud of its old steam engine type JNR class C12, of which between 1932 and 1947 as many as 282 were built. The specimen you can see here was built in the year Shōwa 13 (i.e. 1938) and is fully functional. Compared with that, the diesel locomotive from the 70s of last century, which you can also see here (type JNR class DD16), looks almost modern. People here are also very proud of their old railway turntable from 1930 that is still in operation today.

Location of Wakasa station:

However, even if you think that visiting Japan just for the sake of historic railways is not worth the trip (the more contemporary trains of Japan may in fact be much more impressive), you haven’t come to the wrong place at Wakasa. This little town is among the most charming ones, and – praise the lord – not one of those terribly obstructed ones.

There are two streets in walking distance from the station I would like to draw your attention to:

The Kura Dōri (蔵通り / くらどおり).

This rather romantic street is nestled between a long row of old warehouses (蔵 / くら) and the temple district of Shimomachi (下町 / しもまち) and its particularly quaint Buddhist temples Shōei-ji (正栄寺 / しょうえいじ) and Saihō-ji (西方寺 / さいほうじ), that look much older than the other buildings of Wakasa.

Wakasa, Saihō-ji (若桜・西方寺)

Wakasa, Saihō-ji (若桜・西方寺)

This part of town is the “result” of a devasting fire that happened in 1885 and destroyed major parts of it. Considering the consequence of the previous style of buildings and housing the construction of fire-proof “kura” was forced (not unlike what happened in Kawagoe around the same time). Also for the larger buildings of temples it became a regulation to leave more distance between the buildings and to the next street.

And something that might also find your interest: The whole Kura Dōri has been equipped with water nozzles in its pavement. These nozzles spray hot spring water onto the pavement, to keep it free from snow and ice in winter.

Parallel to the Kura Dōri runs

the Kariya Dōri (カリヤ通り / かりやどおり).

This is the main street of Wakasa so to speak. It gains its charm from its well preserved old town houses, quite a number of long established businesses and – among other things – a sake brewery. The cosiness of this street also is a result of the strict building code that was enforced after the big fire from 1885. One of the most breathtaking features are the streams of water flowing on either side of the street. In front of some house these water channels have been widened to form basins, some houses even used the streams to supply fresh water to basins in their entrances. And that is where the families keep gorgeous carps (they are, perhaps, so gorgeous, because they are generously stuffed with kitchen waste…).

Three of the buildings at the Kariya Dōri are worth a closer look:

First, let’s take a look at the tiny “Shōwa Toy Museum” (昭和おもちゃ館 / しょうわおもちゃかん):

It may not be a museum of international reputation, but if you are looking for toys, household tools and electric appliances of the Shōwa era (1926-1989) or if rummage around for old fashioned sweets is your thing, this is the place you might want to consider.

Open daily (except Tuesday) from 10 am to 5 pm.
Admisstion fee: adults: 200 Yen / children up to 12 years of age: 100 Yen.

Location of the Shōwa Toy Museums:

Are you interested in Japanese sake? Then pay a visit to the “Ōta Sake Brewery” (太田酒造場 / おおたしゅぞうじょう). This sake brewery that was founded in 1909 takes advantage of the high quality spring waters of Wakasa and still abides by the principle of “quality, not quantity” – annual production is limited to 10,000 standard bottles (1.8 liters = 一升瓶 / いっしょうびん).

The brand name of the brewery is known beyond the borders of the prefecture: “Benten Musume” (辨天娘 / べんてんむすめ).
And yet, in 1992 it looked like the final nail was put in the brewery’s coffin, when it became impossible to recruit enough sake brewers to continue production – due to the dramatic decrease in rural population. Only in 2002 production could be resumed, starting with a meagre 1,080 litres of sake.
Since 2010 the brewery is so proud of the fact that it uses local ingredients only, that it puts the name of every contributing rice farmer on its bottles.
Usually, I don’t engage in clumsy promotion of products on this website, but the brewer’s family was of such a hospitable nature, that I feel compelled to make an exception from the rule.

Location of the Ōta Sake-Brauerei:

Doesn’t sightseeing make you hungy? Well, then it’s time for a little something. Why not trying the “Dining Café Arata” (ダイニングカフェー新 / あらた) – assuming you love pork, because that’s the specialty of the place. The restaurant is splendidly accomodated by a particularly gorgeous but traditional town house.

Location of the restaurant “Arata”:

Diving into times even longer passed is an old Buddhist temple that also belongs to the community of Wakasa: The Fudōin Iwayadō (不動院岩屋堂 / ふどういんいわやどう), that dates back to the year 806 when it was founded as part of a larger temple compound (there are also sources mentioning that it was built in the Muromach period (1333-1392)). It is also reported that this temple was the only part that survived during severe destruction in 1581 (Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s invasion of Inaba). In the 50s of last century extensive restoration work was undertaken, and finally the temple was registered as an important cultural asset of the country. Furthermore, it is amoung the 100 most popular buildings of the prefecture. And there is a good an obvious reason for it: Its location! It was fitted into a cave 13 metres above the ground. Isn’t that extraordinary?!

But also have a look at the details: The Fudōin Iwayadō is also home to a small wooden statue that was carved centuries ago. Legend has it that it was Kōbō-Daishi (the founder of Shingon Buddhism) himself who carved it (hence, it must be more than 1,200 years old). It is said, that this little statue was miraculously spared when the temple was devastated, because it represent the God of Fire. Twice a year (on March 28 and July 28) holy fires (goma / 護摩 / ごま) are being held here, when the statue is displayed in public.

Right next to the Fudōin Iwayadō you’ll pass the also rather romanticly placed Iwaya Jinja (岩屋神社 / いわやじんじゃ) in front of a steep and rocky wall and surrounded by old trees. Just have a look at that mossy approach to the main building of the shrine.

Location of the Fudōin Iwayadō:

Don’t you agree: When in Tottori, there are quite a number of reasons for some side trips – especially, when it comes to this easy-to-reach village in the mountains. I’m sure you’ll fall for its charm and the hospitality of its inhabitants.

And if this has triggered some interest in Tottori in you, why don’t you have a look here:

Kurayoshi (倉吉)
– The town of white walls and red roofs

Kotoura-chō (琴浦町)
– Stucco plasterers of the world – watch out!

Tottori Sand Museum (砂の美術館)
-Travel Around the World in Sand

Tottori Folk Crafts Museum (鳥取民芸美術館)
– Have a look and be amazed – thanks to Shōya Yoshida


Tottori (鳥取): Wakasa (若桜) (dt.)

19. February 2017

Schmuckstück, versteckt in den Bergen

Wakasa, Kura Dōri (若桜・蔵通り)

Wakasa, Kura Dōri (若桜・蔵通り)

Eine englische Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.
An English version of this posting you can find here.

Am Ende einer nicht elektrifizierten Bahnlinie, der „Wakasa Bahn“ (若桜鉄道 / わかさてつどう), die regelmäßig auch noch von einer alten Dampflok bedient wird, befindet sich der Ortskern von Wakasa (若桜 / わかさ), einer Gemeinde, die sich, verteilt auf einzelne Ortsflecken, in mehrere Täler erstreckt. Umgeben von Bergen mit einer Höhe zwischen 1200 und 1500 Metern und gut 30 km südöstlich von der Stadt Tottori entfernt.

Geschichtliche Bedeutung hat das Städtchen nie erlangt, es aber in alten Tagen mit seinem Holzreichtum zu einer gewissen Stattlichkeit gebracht. Aus der Kamakura-Zeit (1185-1333) ist bekannt, dass Holz und Reis den Fluss hinab ans Meer gebracht und von dort verschifft wurde. Während der Edo-Zeit (1603-1868) wurde der Reisanbau intensiviert – der Wasserreichtum der Gebirgslandschaft bildete die ideale Grundlage dafür, sorgte aber auch für teilweise verheerende Überschwemmungen (namentlich in den Jahren 1815 und 1888). Heute ist Wakasa in erster Linie für seine Dampflok, aber auch für seinen besonders leckeren Rettich berühmt.

Die 19,2 km lange Strecke der „Wakasa Bahn“ verbindet seit dem 1. Dezember 1930 Wakasa mit dem Bahnhof Kōge (郡家駅 / こうげえき) in Yazu (八頭町 / やずちょう) und von dort mit der Hauptstadt der Präfektur. Bis 1974 wurden auch Güter auf dieser Strecke transportiert, heute verkehren nur noch Personenzüge. Ich gehe etwas genauer auf diese Bahnstrecke ein, weil die Gemeinde besonders stolz auf ihre alte Dampflok der Baureihe JNR Class C12 ist, von denen zwischen 1932 und 1947 ganze 282 Stück gebaut wurden. Das hiesige Exemplar stammt aus dem Jahr Shōwa 13 (lies und sprich: 1938) und ist voll funktionstüchtig. Dagegen wirkt die aus den 70er Jahren des letzten Jahrhunderts stammende, ebenfalls eher museale Diesellok aus der Baureihe JNR Class DD16 fast schon modern. Besonders stolz ist mal auch auf eine Drehscheibe aus den Anfangsjahren der Eisenbahn und das historische Bahnhofsgebäude, das noch aus dem Jahre 1930 erhalten ist und bis heute genutzt wird.

Lageplan des Bahnhofs von Wakasa:

Wer aber der Meinung sein sollte, man müsse historischer Eisenbahnen wegen nicht unbedingt nach Japan reisen (die modernen Eisenbahnbetriebe sind hier ja auch wesentlich eindrucksvoller), ist in Wakasa dennoch nicht fehl am Platze. Der Ort gehört nämlich auch zu den eher beschaulichen und – Göttin sei Dank – nicht verbauten. Zwei Straßen im Zentrum (und in Bahnhofsnähe) möchte ich hervorheben:

Die Kura Dōri (蔵通り / くらどおり).

Sie verläuft direkt zwischen einer langen Reihe alter Lagerhäuser (蔵 / くら) und dem Tempelviertel von Shimomachi (下町 / しもまち) mit den besonders altertümlich wirkenden buddhistischen Tempeln Shōei-ji (正栄寺 / しょうえいじ) und Saihō-ji (西方寺 / さいほうじ), die wesentlich älter wirken, als die restliche Bebauung Wakasas.

Wakasa, Saihō-ji (若桜・西方寺)

Wakasa, Saihō-ji (若桜・西方寺)

Dieses Viertel haben wir heute sozusagen einem Großbrand im Jahre 1885 zu „verdanken“, dem Großteile der Stadt zum Opfer gefallen waren. Danach wurde der Bau von Gebäude im feuerfesten „Kura“-Stil forciert (ähnlich, wie das ja auch in Kawagoe geschehen ist). Auch für die Tempelgebäude war großzügiger Abstand von einander und der nächsten Straße vorgeschrieben.

Auffallend auch: Die Kura Dōri ist durchgängig mit Wasserdüsen im Pflaster versehen, über die im Winter heißes Quellwasser versprüht wird, das die Straße schnee- und eisfrei hält.

Parallel zur Kura Dōri verläuft

Die Kariya Dōri (カリヤ通り / かりやどおり).

Und die ist sozusagen die Hauptstraße der kleinen Stadt mit gut erhaltenen, alten Stadthäusern, einer Vielzahl alt eingesessener Geschäfte und u.a. auch einer Sakebrauerei. Auch die Bebauung dieser Straße geht auf die strikten Bauregeln zurück, die nach dem verheerenden Großbrand von 1885 erlassen worden waren. Eines der atemberaubendsten „features“, das in dem Zusammenhang entstanden ist, sind allerdings die Wasserläufe rechts und links der Fahrbahn, die vor einigen Häuser zu Becken verbreitert wurden, ja deren Wasser teilweise sogar in die Eingangsbereiche der Häuser geleitet wird, wo man u.a. prächtige Karpfen hält (die sich besonders über Essensreste vom in den Becken gespülten Geschirr freuen).

Drei der Gebäude in der Kariya Dōri möchte ich hervorheben:

Da ist zunächst das kleine „Shōwa Spielzeug-Museum“ (昭和おもちゃ館 / しょうわおもちゃかん):

Kein Museum von Weltruf, aber wenn Sie sich für Spielsachen, Haushaltsgeräte und Elektronik der Shōwa-Zeit (1926-1989) interessieren und in einem altmodischen Süßigkeitenladen kramen wollen, sind Sie hier richtig.

Geöffnet täglich außer dienstags von 10 Uhr bis 17 Uhr.
Eintritt: Erwachsene: 200 Yen / Kinder bis einschließlich 12 Jahre: 100 Yen.

Lageplan des Shōwa Spielzeug-Museums:

Sie interessieren sich für Sake? Dann statten Sie der „Ōta Sake-Brauerei“ (太田酒造場 / おおたしゅぞうじょう) einen Besuch ab. Diese im Jahr 1909 gegründete Brauerei profitiert von der besonders hohen Qualität des Brauwassers und arbeitet auch heute noch nach der Maxime „Klasse statt Masse“ – die Produktion beschränkt sich auf eine Menge, die gerade mal für 10.000 Standardflaschen (1,8 Liter = 一升瓶 / いっしょうびん) ausreicht.

Über die Präfekturgrenzen hinaus bekannt ist der Markenname der Ōta-Brauerei: „Benten Musume“ (辨天娘 / べんてんむすめ).
Dabei schien das Schicksal der Brauerei schon 1992 besiegelt, als man (aufgrund des drastischen Bevölkerungsrückgangs in der ländlichen Gemeinde) nicht mehr genügend Sake-Braumeister zur Aufrechterhaltung der Produktion fand und diese einstellen musste. Erst 2002 konnte die Produktion wieder mit zunächst 1.080 Litern Sake aufgenommen werden.
Und seit 2010 ist man so stolz darauf, seinen Sake nur mit lokalen Ingredienzien herzustellen, dass man auch die Namen der Reisbauern auf seinen Sakeflaschen mit angibt.
Ich mache sonst ja eher keine plumpe Reklame auf dieser Seite – aber die Brauerfamilie war dermaßen gastfreundlich, dass ich mich zu einer Ausnahme hingerissen fühle.

Lageplan der Ōta Sake-Brauerei:

Und da Sightseeing ja bekanntlich hungrig macht, gönnen Sie sich einen kleinen Imbiss, z.B. im “Dining Café Arata” (ダイニングカフェー新 / あらた) – Voraussetzung ist, sie mögen Schweinefleisch, denn das ist die Spezialität des Hauses. Das Restaurant ist in einem ganz besonders prächtigen und gut ausgestatteten, traditionellen Stadthaus untergebracht.

Lageplan des Restaurants “Arata”:

Ebenfalls auf dem Gebiet der Gemeinde befindet sich der besonders mystisch wirkende Tempel Fudōin Iwayadō (不動院岩屋堂 / ふどういんいわやどう), der auf eine Gründung im Jahre 806 zurückgeht und bis ins Mittelalter Teil eines größeren Temple-Ensembles war (wobei andere Quellen von einer Errichtung in der Muromachi-Zeit (1333-1392) sprechen). Es wird gesagt, dass er als einziges Gebäude die Zerstörungen des Jahres 1581 (Hideyoshi Toyotomis Überfall auf Inaba) überstanden hat. In den 50er Jahren des vergangenen Jahrhunderts wurde umfangreich restauriert und das Bauwerk 1953 als wichtiges Kulturgut des Landes anerkannt. Außerdem gehört er zu den 100 populärsten Gebäuden der Präfektur. Und das aus gutem Grund, denn schon der Umstand, dass er in 13 Metern Höhe in eine Höhle eingepasst wurde, macht ihn bemerkenswert.

Aber beachten Sie auch die Details: Der Fudōin Iwayadō ist auch die Heimstätte einer kleinen, hölzernen Statue, die vor Jahrhunderten geschnitzt wurde. Der Legende nach war es Kōbō-Daishi (der Gründer des Shingon Buddhism) selbst, der sie geschaffen hat (d.h. sie ist über 1.200 Jahre alt). Außerdem erzählt man sich, dass diese kleine Statue auf wundersame Weise die Zerstörungen der Vergangenheit überdauert hat, weil sie die Gottheit des Feuers repräsentiert. Zweimal jährlich (jeweils am 28. März und 28. Juli) werden hier heilige Feuerrituale (goma / 護摩 / ごま) durchgeführt und die Statue bei der Gelegenheit der Öffentlichkeit zugänglich gemacht.

Direkt rechts neben dem Fudōin Iwayadō kommt man am nicht weniger verträumt unter hohen Bäumen und vor einer steilen Felsfand stehenden Iwaya Jinja (岩屋神社 / いわやじんじゃ) vorbei – der schon aufgrund seines surreal wirkenden, grün bemoosten Zugangs ungewöhnlich wirkt.

Lageplan des Fudōin Iwayadō:

Wenn Sie in Tottori sind, sollten Sie also ein paar Gründe haben, einen Abstecher in dieses leicht zu erreichende Gebirgsdorf zu machen. Ich bin mir ziemlich sicher, dass Sie sich seinem Charme und der Freundlichkeit seiner Bewohner kaum entziehen können werden.

Und wenn Sie an weiteren Orten und Einrichtungen in Tottori interessiert sind, schauen Sie doch auch mal hier vorbei:

Kurayoshi (倉吉)
– Die Stadt der weißen Mauern und roten Dächer

Kotoura-chō (琴浦町)
– Bayerische Stuckmeister, aufgepasst!

Tottori Sand-Museum (砂の美術館)
– Eine Weltreise in Sand

Tottori Volkskunst-Museum (鳥取民芸美術館)
– Schauen und Staunen dank Shōya Yoshida


Kotoura-chō (琴浦町) (Engl.)

7. February 2017

Stucco plasterers of the world – watch out!

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.
A German version of this posting you can find here.

I have promised you proof that the Tottori prefecture (鳥取県 / とっとりけん) is worth more than just a visit. And here is another piece of it:

Everyone who has been to villages and towns in southern Bavaria (Germany) has seen quite something of stucco and the so called “Lueftelmalerei” (can someone translate that for me?) – and, yes, I know there is stucco and “Lueftelmalerei” outside Bavaria as well. But who would have expected something gorgeous like that in Japan, apart from the rather baroque temples and shrines of Nikkō (日光 / にっこう)?

Click the miniatures to open a slide show.

Nevertheless, during the course of the centuries a very particular form of Japanese stucco has been developed. It is called “kote-e” (鏝絵 / こてえ) which could literally be translated with “trowel painting” – and that’s what it actually is. Its origin may date back more than 2,000 years, when the first techniques for covering walls with plaster were engineered. During the Edo period the plastering of walls (mainly erected from natural fiber and wood) was largely promoted in order to support the fire resistance of buildings.

Applying ornamental decoration to the walls – mostly the exterior walls of buildings – became something of a fashion, particularly for those who felt compelled to show the world how rich they were. One of the characteristics of kote-e is, that it largely consists of symbols of luck and prosperity.

The use of colours is – even in our days – rather restricted, but only as far as the number of different colours is concerned. Otherwise kote-e are mostly gorgeously colorful, while being limited to the traditional base colours: red, vermilion, blue, yellow, ochre and black.

That doesn’t just look pretty, it sometimes even has very practical and profane purposes. Have a look at the “wave”-design on the roof below. It actually does represent a stylised wave, hence: water. And its purpose is to protect the building from fire. Naturally, one has to have imperturbable faith, to make it work…

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

In the Mitsu (光 / みつ) district of Kotoura (琴浦町 / ことうらちょう),  which you can see here, the traditional art of kote-e has been cultivated for a long time and is being continued as a kind of means to make the village more attractive. There is virtually no building in Mitsu that would do without a piece of ornamental adornment. The old store houses (倉 / くら) are the ones that have been decorated most lavishly.

The genealogy of the kote-e masters of Mitsu goes back to the early years of the Meiji era:

  • Shōzou Toyoshima (豊島庄蔵 / とよしましょうぞう) 1878 to 1968
  • Teiichi Yoshida (吉田貞一 / よしだていいち) 1900 to 1985
  • Katsushige Yoshida (吉田勝重 / よしだかつしげ) born in 1928(the oldest son of Teiichi Yoshida)
  • Sadao Noguchibara (野口原貞夫 / のぐちばらさだお) born in 1931

As you can see: You don’t have to travel all the way to the Ōita prefecture (大分県 / おおいたけん), which is said to feature particularly many places with kote-e. Tottori offers just the same – and even in an utterly un-touristic environment. The photographs you can see here were all taken at Kotoura, Tottori.

There is another interesting feature you can discover in Mitsu: There is a – mostly subterranean – stream flowing through the village. This flow of fresh water is also diverted into open pools in front of many houses and used for e.g. washing fruits and cleaning vegetables.

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Close the the southern outskirts of the village you will find a small museum that features items (stencils, patterns, tools etc.) that are being used for kote-e. You can learn quite a bit about the craftsmanship of the local stucco masters.

How to get there:

Take the JR San’in main line (JR山陰本線 / さんいんほんせん) that runs between the cities of Tottori (鳥取 / とっとり) and Yonago (米子 / よなご) to Akasaki station (赤崎 / あかさき). This is, by the way, the same line on which you can reach Kurayoshi (倉吉 / くらよし).

Mitsu is located 1.8 km southwest of Akasaki station at the prefectural road no. 30 (県道30号線 / けんどう30ごうせん) and can be reached e.g. by taxi. For the current schedule of regular taxis please have a look at this website (which was current when this posting was made) – or just treat yourself to a little walk…

Should you wish to obtain a guided tour of Mitsu (which is, unfortunately, only available in Japanese for the time being), please have a look at the local tourist office’s website:

http://www.kotoura-kankou.com

By the way, I could not find any restaurant or coffee shop in Mitsu when I visited it.

Should you wish to learn more about the fascinating Tottori prefecture, why don’t you also have a look at the following:

Kurayoshi (倉吉)
– The town of white walls and red roofs

Tottori Sand Museum (砂の美術館)
-Travel Around the World in Sand

Tottori Folk Crafts Museum (鳥取民芸美術館)
– Have a look and be amazed – thanks to Shōya Yoshida

Tottori: Wakasa (鳥取・若桜)
– A gem, hidden in the mountains


Kotoura-chō (琴浦町) (dt.)

6. February 2017

Bayerische Stuckmeister, aufgepasst!

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Eine englische Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.
An English version of this posting you can find here.

Ich hatte Beweise dafür versprochen, dass die Präfektur Tottori (鳥取県 / とっとりけん) mehr als einfach nur einen Besuch wert ist. Und hier kommt ein weiterer:

Wer bayrische Dörfer und Städte kennt, ist mit Stuckarbeiten und Lüftelmalerei vertraut (ja, ich weiß, Stuck und Lüftelmalerei gibt es auch andernorts). Weniger oder auch gar nicht würde man damit in Japan rechnen, wo es jenseits der Prachtbauten von Nikkō (日光 / にっこう) nur wenig an barock anmutender Herrlichkeit zu sehen gibt.

Klicken Sie auf die Miniaturen, um eine Diashow zu öffnen.

Aber im Laufe der Jahrhunderte hat sich eine landestypische Form der Stuckarbeiten, die man Kote-e (鏝絵 / こてえ) nennt und die man wörtlich mit „Spachtel-Bilder“ übersetzen könnte, herausgebildet. Ihren Ursprung kann man wahrscheinlich schon vor mehr als 2.000 Jahren suchen, wenn sich die Technik der Mauerverkleidung mit Mörtel herausbildete. In der Edo-Zeit wurde das Verkleiden der sonst aus Naturfasern bestehenden Wände mit Mörtel gefördert, um die Feuerfestigkeit von Mauern und Gebäuden zu erhöhen.

Die Verzierung der Wände – namentlich der Außenmauern von Gebäuden – mit diesen Kote-e wurde regelrecht Mode. Besonders für diejenigen, die ihren Reichtum dadurch signalisieren wollten. Kennzeichnend für die Kote-e ist, dass sie in aller Regel glückbringende Symbole darstellen.

Bei der Verwendung von Farben geht man auch heute noch restriktiv vor – allerdings nur was deren Vielfalt anbelangt. Die Kote-e sind in aller Regel besonders farbenfroh, beschränken sich aber ganz überwiegend auf die ursprünglichen Grundfarben: Rot, Zinnoberrot, Blau, Gelb, Ocker und Schwarz.

Das sieht nicht nur hübsch aus, es erfüllt bisweilen auch noch ganz profane Zwecke. So z.B. das “Wellen-Design” das auf dem unten stehenden Dach zu sehen ist. Es ist tatsächlich die stilisierte Darstellung von Wellen, also Wasser, und hat die Aufgabe, das Haus vor Feuer zu schützen. Natürlich muss man ganz fest dran glauben, damit’s auch hilft…

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Im Ortsteil Mitsu (光 / みつ) der Gemeinde Kotoura (琴浦町 / ことうらちょう), das wir hier sehen, hat man diese alte Kunst für lange Zeit gepflegt und führt diese als Teil eines Bestrebens, das Dorfbild zu bereichern, bis heute fort. In Mitsu gibt es praktisch kein Haus, das nicht von dekorativen Stuckarbeiten verziert wäre. Besonders prächtig sind die alten Speicherhäuser (倉 / くら) herausgeputzt.

Die Stammbaum der Stuck-Meister von Mitsu geht bis in die Meiji-Zeit zurück:

  • Shōzou Toyoshima (豊島庄蔵 / とよしましょうぞう) 1878 bis 1968
  • Teiichi Yoshida (吉田貞一 / よしだていいち) 1900 bis 1985
  • Katsushige Yoshida (吉田勝重 / よしだかつしげ) 1928 geboren (der älteste Sohn von Teiichi Yoshida)
  • Sadao Noguchibara (野口原貞夫 / のぐちばらさだお) 1931 geboren

Glauben Sie also nicht, sie müssten unbedingt in die Präfektur Ōita (大分県 / おおいたけん) fahren, wo es besonders viele Orte geben soll, die Koto-e zeigen. Tottori bietet das auch – und noch dazu in völlig untouristischem Rahmen. Die Bilder, die Sie hier sehen können, stammen allesamt von dort.

Eine interessante Einrichtung gibt es in Mitsu auch noch: Die Ortschaft wird von einem Wasserlauf durchzogen, der überwiegend unterirdisch kanalisiert wurde. Vor sehr vielen Häusern ist dieser Wasserlauf aber offen und zu einem Becken verbreitert, wo z.B. Gemüse gewaschen und geputzt werden kann.

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

Tottori, Kotoura-chō: Kote-e (鳥取県琴浦町・鏝絵)

In einem kleinen Museum am südlichen Ortsrand werden Gegenstände (Schablonen, Vorlagen, Werkzeuge für die Stuckarbeiten etc.) ausgestellt und veranschaulichen die Kunstfertigkeit der hier arbeitenden Meister.

Wie man hinkommt:

Mit der JR San’in Hauptlinie (JR山陰本線 / さんいんほんせん) die zwischen den Städten Tottori (鳥取 / とっとり) und Yonago (米子 / よなご) verkehrt, zum Bahnhof Akasaki (赤崎 / あかさき). Auf der gleichen Strecke gelangen Sie auch nach Kurayoshi (倉吉 / くらよし)

Mitsu liegt 1,8 km südwestlich des Bahnhofs Akasaki an der Präfekturstraße Nr. 30 (県道30号線 / けんどう30ごうせん) und ist z.B. mit dem Taxi zu erreichen. Über die aktuellen Fahrzeiten der regelmäßig verkehrenden Taxis informieren Sie sich bitte dieser Internetseite (zum Zeitpunkt der Veröffentlichung aktuell) – oder laufen Sie die kurze Strecke zu Fuß.

Falls Sie sich für eine Führung durch Mitsu interessieren sollten (diese werden derzeit nur in Japanisch angeboten), können Sie sich auf der Internetseite des Fremdenverkehrsbüros kundig machen:

http://www.kotoura-kankou.com

Gastronomische Betriebe konnte ich übrigens bei meinem Besuch in Mitsu nicht finden.

Und wenn das Ihr Interesse an der Präfektur Tottori geweckt hat, hier ist mehr:

Kurayoshi (倉吉)
– Die Stadt der weißen Mauern und roten Dächer

Tottori Sand-Museum (砂の美術館)
– Eine Weltreise in Sand

Tottori: Wakasa (鳥取・若桜)
– Schmuckstück, versteckt in den Bergen

Tottori Volkskunst-Museum (鳥取民芸美術館)
– Schauen und Staunen dank Shōya Yoshida


Tottori Sand Museum (砂の美術館) (Engl.)

20. January 2017

Travel Around the World in Sand

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.
A German version of this posting you can find here.

It is not entirely unlikely that you have heard of the Great Dunes of Tottori (and even if you have never heard of them, you may have read about them in one of my recent postings when I was mentioning Kaori Mizumori’s “Tottori Sakyū” – which just means “Tottori Dunes”). I am going to tell you more about them in the near future.

However, the “Sand Museum” right next the dunes seems to be less famous. And, I have to admit, when I first heard about this museum my image of it was a rather tacky and touristy one. How wrong I was! Believe it or not: The Sand Museum is quite something!

The Sand Museum (砂の美術館 / すなのびじゅつかん) of Tottori (鳥取 / とっとり) has its own slogan: “Travel Around the World in Sand”.  And it has abided by this motto since its foundation in 2006 (until 2012 it was housed in temporary buildings – and since then in the spacious hall that was built for it) in quite a variety of ways. The grand exhibitions of giant and yet delicate sand sculptures are changing every year and are usually devoted to one particular region on the globe. So far the following topics have been covered:

  • Italia/Renaissance (2006/2007)
  • World Heritage of Asia (2008)
  • Austria (2009)
  • Africa (2010)
  • United Kingdom (2012)
  • Southeast Asia (2013)
  • Russia (2014
  • Germany (2015).

During my visit to Tottori I had the chance to see the last exhibition that was dealing with the South American continent, its history, its nature and its culture (exhibition period: April 16, 2016 to January 31, 2017). I would like to get into a little more detail about this exhibition, while taking the official descriptions given for each exhibit into consideration.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The grand sculptures to be seen at the Sand Museum are actually (and really!) just made of sand and water – other substances (e.g. to increase stability) are not being used. A rough description of the process of preparing the sculptures can be seen on the picture below (click to enlarge).

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

And should you want to know the artists behind this magnificent works of art, have a look, here they are:

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

But let’s have a closer look at the exhibits. Click on the images to enlarge them and to enjoy them in greater detail – you’ll find out: They are really amazing!

1) Animals of the Amazon

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The region of the Amazon forms the largest rain forest of the world. It covers an area that stretches from Brazil to nine countries and accounts for half of all the rain forests of the earth. With that the Amazon Basin is the “green lung” of the world, and might deliver as much as a third of our planet’s oxygen. The thick forests with their humid environment are the perfect habitat for all sorts of animals.
The aquatic and land animals of South America have adapted to their specific environments during the course of evolution. Top of the food circle is the jaguar – it is not only a fast hunter, but is also able to follow its prey up into the trees. The sand sculpture shows the sleek cat of prey, but also the exotic toco toucan with a beak so beautiful that it is even called “jewel”, and the colorful Macaw are drawing their circles in the sky. Also in our days there are still new species being discovered in the Amazon Basin – the treasure chest of the world’s living creatures.

2) Iguazú Falls and the Indios

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Since my first trip to South America the Falls of Iguazú are – for me – among the most impressive places on the face of this earth. They are also being considered the largest in the world. Have a look at a photo I took during that trip:

Iguazú Falls

Iguazú Falls

The Falls of Iguazú transport 65,000 tons of water – every second! These water masses are cascading gigantic walls of rocks and moisten the tropical rain forest in their area. Here is were Indios live together with their animals and plants. They have collected exquisit knowledge about life in these forests over hundreds of years and have adapted to the dangers that lurking from the jungle. The Idio’s hammocks are as much part of their “survival techniques” (as they protect them from insects living on the ground) as their weapons, e.g. bow and arrow.
The various tribes distinguish themselves by jewelry in their noses and ears, but also by characteristic folk costumes. Even though the Indio people were dramatically decreased during the “Age of Discovery” and its western invasions, there are tribes remaining until the present day. Recently Indios have continued to develop their original culture again, surrounded and influenced by the rich nature under the rainbows of the Falls of Iguazú.

3) Coffee Cultivation and Salto Ángel

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

During the first half of the 18th century coffee and its cultivation techniques were brought by the Europeans to South America, via the West Indies and the Carribean Islands. Before long coffee became one of the major economic factors for some of South America’s countries. Tropical areas with changing seasons with lots of rain and dry periods are the perfect environment for growing coffee. And coffee grown in the highlands is supposed to be of particularly high quality. The Guayana highlands stretch over six countries in the northern part of South America. One of the best known areas for coffee cultivation is the Salto Ángel in Venezuela. The sand sculpture shows coffee workers in the highlands with Salto Ángel in the background.

4) Modern Architecture in Brazil

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The new capital of Brazil was founded 1960 in the Brazilian highland: Brasilia. The plan to relocate the capital actually dated back to the days of the Portuguese colonial period – but it took 200 years until it eventually was put into reality. While building this town from scratch, there was a strong will to sweep away old images and to create a new Brazil. Major buildings of the city like the National Congress Building or the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia were designed by Oscar Niemeyer. The usage of curves and geometry is characteristic of the design. This neo-futuristic architecture expresses the thoughts of the people looking toward a new Brazil and a bright future.

5) Machu Picchu – City in the Sky

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Machu Picchu is located on the top of a mountain 2,430 metres above sea level over the Urubama valley in southeast Peru. The city had been lost (or unknown) for a long time – only about 100 years ago, it was re-discovered by the US-American archeologist Hiram Bingham when he was exploring this area (at least that’s the official version of Macchu Picchu’s discovery). Nowadays this mystical city is world famous. And since it cannot be seen from the foot of the mountain, but only from above, it is called “City in the Sky”.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

It was part of the Inca empire that flourished in Cusco, Peru. The terraced fields that account for about the half of the five square kilometres large area were used as agricultural land, while the approximately 200 buildings were used as temples, palaces and residents. But since the Inca civilization did not have letters or other ways of documenting its culture and history, it is veiled in mystery when and for what purpose the buildings were constructed.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

In present times, the city is a major tourism spot in South America and attracts crowds of tourists that search for its mysterious stone ruins and beautiful scenery. In 1983, Machu Picchu and the historic district of Cusco were registered as world heritage.

6) The Townscape of Cusco

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire, is located in a highland 3,400 metres above sea level – hence, 1,000 higher than Machu Picchu, the “City in the Sky”. It is said that the footprint of the city’s historic centre resembles the shape of a puma, if seen from above. The reddish brown of the roofs’ tiles dominate the city’s apprearance.
Together with the mighty walls built by the Inca they tell us about the city’s shape in those old days.

The Plaza de Armas (located in the centre of the city – as in most of the South American cities) and the Santo Domingo church that was built on the foundation of the Qurikancha Temple from the Inca period, let us feel the appearance during the Spanish colonization period.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

It is assumed that the Inca empire with Cusco in the center was built by the Quechua, an indigenous people of the Andes with colorful folk costumes characteristic for them. Also the traditional folklore music is originated in the Andes and its representative song “El Condor Pasa” is probably the one almost everybody in the world knows.

7) Lake Titicaca and its Native People

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Lake Titicaca, the largest in South America, is located at the border between Peru and Bolivia. Almost at the centre of the Andes, up in a height of 3,812 metres, there is no higher place on earth where you can actually do shipping. Besides the “Island of the Sun”, the core of the legendary empire of the Inca, the lake has quite a number of islands that are home to different ethnic groups. One of those are the Uros who are living on floating islands made of a local kind of bulrush. Through the centuries the people learned to cultivate this kind of plants which were necessary for building and maintaining those islands. The blue of the sky and the water provides a lively contrast with the yellow of the islands and the blue and red  the traditional costumes of the Uros. If you look at them today, you might feel transported into a painting.

8) The Cathedral of Santiago de Chile

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The cathedral of Santiago de Chile is not only the biggest, but also the main church of the Roman Catholic country. The grand neoclassic building melts perfectly into the historic scenery of the surrounding Plaza de Armas. Its present appearance is the result of various reconstructions which became necessary to heal damage done by earthquakes.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The sculptures in the cathedral, the tall columns and the gorgeously decorated ceiling stunned me when I visited Santiago de Chile in 1988. The grandeur of the church and its peacefully quiet interior form a breathtaking contrast to the lively atmosphere on the Plaza de Armas. For the people of Santiago this is a very special place.

You don’t know Santiago de Chile’s magnificent cathedral? Here it is – as seen back in 1988:

9) Discovery of the New World

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The middle of the 15th century marks the beginning of the age of discoveries. Spices and other exotic goods were rather precious in Europe at that time, as the (mainly) Portugese had to ship them around Africa from Asia. The Spanish had the idea of looking for a short-cut in western direction – as suggested by Christopher Columbus. That, in the end, led to the fact that he and his men landed at the South American “West Indies” in 1492 – the “New World” was discovered. The Europeans colonised the largest parts of the American continent. One could say that this was the “turing point” in the history of America, that been populated by its native inhabitants only. The Spanish explored the South American continent and finally discovered the unknown world of the empire of the Inca.

10) The Inca Emprie

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The Inca originated from a tribe of Quechua indios around the year 1200 AD. Step by step they conquered the neighbouring regions and countries – and by the middle of the 15th century their empire covered an area that is now occupied by Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. During its “golden era” it was home to 80 different people and had a total population of about 16 million. The Inca worshipped the sun and their emperor was believed to be the incarnation of the sun – the supreme authority in all religious and political matters. With the death of the 13th emperor, Atahualpas, a steady decline of the empire began which, eventually, led to its complete collaps.

In recent years the old Inca ceremonies are being revived as folk festivals. Its events try to re-create the glory of the colourful life of the Inca.

11) The Search for Gold

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The “Conquistadores” in the days of discovery had big dreams and phantasies of treasures of gold and silver, to be found on the bottom of lakes, of buildings and complete villages decorated with gold. Their hunger for gold was stronger than the dangers travel brought in those days. Without disclosing their true ambitions of conquest, they got in touch with the Indios.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

For the Indios their first contact with people with white skin was quite a challenge. On the one hand they were cautious. On the other hand, the fact that their supreme divine being was of white skin as well, puzzled them. That may also explain why the invasions by the “Conquistadores”, led by Pizarro were so successful. Spanish soldiers with state-of-the-art weaponry followed. The Indio’s simple weapons were no match for them. The massacres that were committed during the course of the occupation of the continent are among the most horrible in the history of mankind.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Virtually nothing of the Indio’s culture and civilisation remained. But Spain acquired the gold of the new continent, flourished under the influence of this huge fortune and developed into a superpower.

12) The Legendary Town of “El Dorado”

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The myth, that there was a “land of gold on the other side of the ocean” had attracted both, explorers and adventurers alike. But there is an actual root to this myth – it is founded on secret ceremonies that were practiced until the 16th century in the mountainous region of the Andes.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Deep in the valleys of the Andes in Colombia, at the lake Guatavita, the chief of the Indios used to cover his body with gold dust and took a ritual bath in the lake, in order to pray to the gods and to offer them treasures. Tales of treasures on the ground of the lake, of glittering dust of gold were passed on from generation to generation for centuries and turned in to the famous tale of “El Dorado”, the country of legendary gold.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Later, when the Spanish conquerors came into the country, they were – of course – particularly keen in uncovering the treasure. In their imagination South America was a world full of gold, and they had a firm believe that they would get tremendously rich in no-time. No way was too long, no path to steep to stop them.

The tale of “El Dorado” that put everybody under its spell has become part of human history and is living on in numerous mysteries.

13) The Propagation of the Christan Faith

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

With Columbus’ discovery of the New World a chapter in human history was opened that was everything but beneficial to the indiginous people of the continent: the propagation of the Christian Faith. Order was given by the Pope in Rome in the 15th century to disseminate the Christian Belief and to regain power in such regions where it had been lost before. The missionaries from the “Old World” were driven by the eagerness and the belief that they not only had the right to spread their alleged superior culture, but were also obliged to convert non-Christians to their belief. Any refusal or resistance was deemed a declaration of war – even if the indigenous people could not even understand the language of this missionaries. Further, the missionary works were justified by preaching the teaching of Christianity to the converted people and pushing the colonization in the name of protection. Thus, Christianity spread over all parts of the continent and the number of the indigenous people decreased steadily. In present days, the westernization of South America has reached a proceeded state and 70% of the people are Christians.

14) Statue of the Reedemer of Corcovado

For a long time, Brazil was a Portguese colony, until it became independent in 1822. Even in our days this is event of proud memories for the Brazilian people. To remember the cenentary of this happy event the erection of the statue of the Redeemer was commissioned and finally completed in 1931.

As the majority of the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro are of Christian faith, most of them have a deep affection to the statue. With its “open arms” it is a symbol for the all-encompassing spirit of hospitality and togetherness of the people of the world.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The gigantic statue lends mental support to the people and is watching the city of Rio de Janeiro (one of the most beautiful locations for a city – at least to my mind) from the top of the Corcovado.

15) Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The world famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is being celebrated every year, and it is said to date back to the year 1723. It was the Portuguese settlers that brought the carnival tradition from their home country. In Rio it melted with the Samba rhythms of the slave workers.
The Samba parade, the most important element of the carnival, is a competition. The best teams that made it through the semi-finals compete with each other..

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The dancers are called “passista” – they wear gorgeous feather costumes and show lots of naked skin. As the dances are individual plays, the dancers need improvisational talent and expressive power. The showy and thrilling Carnival in Rio is an expression of the positive Brazilian traits and the passion of the people. This festival developed together with Brazil, that in 2016 finally was the hosting country of the first Olympic Summer Games on the South American continent.

16) Monoliths: God Statues Standing Beside the Ruins

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

This statue of a god, the original made from one single piece of rock, was – even though it wasn’t even the greatest in the exibition – the one that had the most tremendous impact on me. The original of the statue is located in the World Heritage of  Tiwanaku – where I personally got “acquainted” with it many years ago. The advanced civilization of Tiwanaku flourished in the highlands of Bolivia, near Lake Titicaca for more than 12 centuries from its foundation in the 3rd century BC.

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The formidable techniques for stone-constructions led to such extraordinary buildings as the “Sun Gate” and the other buildings on the grounds of Tiwanaku – they even influenced the Inca culture that blossomed much later. The statues and walls of the ancient city are covered with displays of man-like creatures, symbols of cats, snakes, condors and geometric lines. One might actually think that the statues have guarded the temple’s ground for all those millennia.

Do you want to compare the sand sculpture with the “real thing”? I’ll give you the opportunity:
Below see the “original” made of stone as well as the original “Sun Gate” of Tiwanaku (or Tiahuanaku – depending on which kind of writing you prefer) mentioned above, as I saw them on the occasion of my visit in 1988.

17) Inca Trail and Andean Nature

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

The Inca trail was built during the time of the Inca empire. It starts at Cusco and, with a length of more then 40,000 km it reaches all the corners oft the gigantic empire. It actually was the “network” that made it possible for the Inca government to stay in touch with all regions and to impart information as well as orders. And as it also was the main route for the transportation of goods, it played a significant role in the development of the empire. Llamas, the symbol animal of the Andes, provided the major mode of transportation. These animals are just like made for this terrain: They are enduring, they can carry heavy loads and they are used to the thin air in great heights. The Andes are also the habitat for various other animals – just to mention the condor, the puma and the Andean mountain cat. The condor might be the one that plays the most important role among all those animals, as it was regarded a sacred animal in local myths. Also the condor might be called the symbol animal of the Andes.

Should the pictures of the sand sculptures have impressed you, please keep in mind: These grand works of art are by far more impressive in reality.
The first three months of this year will be needed to turn down the old sculptures and to build the new ones for the next exihibition. And that will be opened on April 15, 2017 under the motto of “United States of America”. You’ll be able to see this year’s exhibition until January 3, 2018. Don’t miss it!

Tottori Sand-Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Tottori Sand Museum (鳥取砂の美術館)

Address of the museum:

The Sand Museum
2083-17 Yuyama, Fukube-chō
Tottori 〒689-0105

鳥取砂丘 砂の美術館
〒689-0105 鳥取県鳥取市福部町湯山

Opening Hours:

Daily from 9 am to 6 pm (last entry. 5:30 pm)

Admission fee:

Adults: 600 Yen
Student (elementary school to high school): 300 Yen
(There are discounts for groups)

How to get there:

I’ll limit myself to a journey by train – those approaching the area by airplane will (most likely) land at the nearby airport of Tottori. And those who travel to Tottori by car, will be equipped with a navigation system.

From the Hiroshima (広島)/Okayama (岡山) Region

From Okayama station (岡山駅) take the “Super Inaba” Limited Express to Tottori Station (鳥取駅) and head for the Tottori Sand Dunes Information Center “Sandpal” there.
From Tottori city it’s about 20 minutes by taxi.

The train from Okayama takes about 2 hours.

From the Keihanshin (京阪神) (Kyōto-Ōsaka-Kōbe) Region

Take the “Super Hakuto” Limited Express to Tottori (鳥取) and head for the Tottori Sand Dunes Information Center “Sandpal” there.
From Tottori city it’s about 20 minutes by taxi.

The train from Ōsaka takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Should you wish to learn more about the fascinating Tottori prefecture, why don’t you also have a look at the following:

Kurayoshi (倉吉)
– The town of white walls and red roofs

Kotoura-chō (琴浦町)
– Stucco plasterers of the world – watch out!

Tottori: Wakasa (鳥取・若桜)
– A gem, hidden in the mountains

Tottori Folk Crafts Museum (鳥取民芸美術館)
– Have a look and be amazed – thanks to Shōya Yoshida