Inaka: My Sweet Home (Part 1)

Home is where you reminisce when you are far away and sing with sorrow

By Saisei Muro (Japanese poet)

How many of our savvy readers have heard of Iya, which is remote part of Tokushima Prefecture on Shikoku Island?

Situated in the western part of Tokushima and nearly in the center of Shikoku, the Iya area is one of the three large “hidden mountain regions” in Japan with impossibly steep gorges, forming a part of Mt. Tsurugi Quasi-National Park.

There is no doubt that it is one of the most hard-to-reach places in Japan, and it is such a mythically mountainous area that it is sometimes called “Tibet of Japan.”

I had never been to Iya until last summer, although I was born and raised in Tokushima for 18 years because it is so far and isolated, and I believed there was nothing of worth to it.

I finally visited Iya last summer while I went back to my home town on summer vacation with my family and experienced a lot of wonderful things which I never had before. I would like to share them with you. (Part 2 will be in the upcoming issue.)

Part 1. CHIIORI

Mr. Alex Kerr, who is a famous Japanologist, first discovered Iya valley in 1971 and bought an old thatched farmhouse which was built around 1720 in east Iya in 1973. He has renovated the house in order to not impair its original condition.

Now two young guys, Paul and Toru, are stationed there to take care of the house. Chiiori, the name of both the house and Kerr’s renovation project, has been doing a wide range of activities include natural agriculture, preservation of old houses and rural life, and the creation of unique and forward-looking projects to revitalize the village.

I strongly recommend visiting Chiiori if you are interested in traditional Japanese country life.

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