Next Year Is Taisho 110! Celebrating 110th anniversary at Taisho Village

In Japan, years are indicated both by the common era (A.D.) and the traditional nengo system, in which the year corresponds to the reign of the current emperor. By this reckoning, 2020 is also the 2nd year of the Reiwa Era, which began on May 1, 2019, the day Emperor Naruhito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne. If the previous previous Emperor, Emperor Showa, were still alive, this year would be the 95th year of the Showa (“Shining Peace”) Era.

Emperor Taisho, grand grand father of the present monarch, ascended to the throne on July 30, 1912 and passed away on December 25, 1926. So next year would correspond to the 110th year of the era that bears the name “Taisho,” meaning “Great righteousness.” To commemorate that year, a small mountain village of around 6,000 people in Gifu Prefecture will be staging various events.

To get to the village, one first takes an electric commuter train to Ena station on a JR line, located about one hour from Nagoya City, and then transfers to a one-car diesel locomotive on the Akechi Line for a 50-minute trip. According to Sukezo Hirabayashi, the city manager of Taisho Mura (village), this out-of-the-way area “Was once prosperous for paper-making and silk thread production.”

In 1981, the former Japan National Railways decided to shut down the decrepit Akechi Line; but the locals along the line rose up in opposition, and through funding by local governments, businesses and residents, the rail service was restored as a joint venture company of local government and private enterprise in 1985. Afterwards, the townspeople began serious discussions on what to do to prevent their locality from deteriorating. It was then that they came up with the idea of renaming it “Taisho Mura (village).” Initially many skeptics opposed it, saying “In the space age now, what’s the point of promoting ‘Taisho?’” But surprisingly, the notion of promoting a Taisho-era atmosphere succeeded in attracting tourists. In the town can be found the remains of an old-style café, a hospital, vault of a bank, the old city office and others, which appear like the set for period films on a movie studio lot. In addition to the buildings, items typical of the Taisho Era, such as articles of clothing, an old gramophone, and various articles of daily use and children’s toys are displayed.

Hirabayashi says that the revival of the town was brought about entirely through the spirit of volunteerism by residents. In the museum, young men posted in the respective exhibit rooms greet visitors and offer explanations of the exhibits, and at the numerous rest stops, visitors are politely offered tea by local matrons. “We want to convey to the younger generation the lifestyles, scenery and also the warm human feelings that were common during the Taisho Era,” he says.

Since its startup in 1988, Taisho Mura (village) has welcomed as many as 500,000 visitors per year. Among those visiting are staff members of local governments or other observers also concerned with similar deterioration they face in their own communities. As part of the commemoration of the 100th year of the Taisho Era, this November a park and station building have been reconstructed and events will be held to model the fashions of the early decades of the 20th century. The Akechi Line, which meanders through the terraced fields and hills, boasts the steepest ascent of any railway in Japan. While enjoying the view aboard an old swaying train, how about taking a trip to the Japan of 110 years ago?

<3 Best Spots in Taisho Mura>

Taisho Mura Office Building, which was once used as Akechi town’s office
Taisho Mura Office Building, which was once used as Akechi town’s office
Vault of a bank, the four-story wooden building with a manual elevator
Vault of a bank, the four-story wooden building with a manual elevator
Straw-thatched house, 300-year old house of ex-Miyake family

<Three typical Foreign-style food of Taisho era>

Japanese-style curry rice, korokke, a deep fried dish related to a French dish, the croquette and tonkatsu, a Japanese version of European cuisine, cutlet

Japanese-style curry rice and korokke
投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時:

What is Kamaboko?

Making Kamaboko

Fish Paste Molding

The smell of the Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum in Odawara leaves no doubt that real fish, and lots of it, is being processed here. The smell is not overwhelming nor offensive, but there is a definite waft of seafood present everywhere in this small building with a warm and woody interior.


Suzuhiro has been making kamaboko, fish paste formed in small loaves onto wooden slabs and then steamed, in the Odawara area since 1865. In the generations to come, this family-owned company would expand its business all the way to Tokyo and to the rest of Japan. But its reputation remains as a local delicacy between the seaside Odawara city and Hakone, the nearby hot spring resort town.


The museum is part of a larger complex that consists of a spacious retail outlet and several restaurants. Inside the cozy museum, there is a glass-enclosed area where visitors can watch workers put together various products made from processed fish paste, an open kitchen for the kamaboko-making workshops, a gift shop, interactive displays and a gallery showing artwork using the wooden slabs from kamaboko as the canvas.

The highlight of the museum is without question the workshops. Participants are required to don a paper cap and apron before entering the preparation area. Everyone is given a place at a long wooden table with two scoops of fish paste and various tools to work with. The demonstrator gives instruction using a microphone headset while she deftly accomplishes each step. The participants typically struggle but with plenty of giggles, everyone eventually ends up with a decent-looking loaf on our little wooden slabs. While the loaves are being slowly steamed, we move onto our second task, making the chikuwa – roasted fish paste wrapped around a bamboo stick. With just one scoop of fish paste, we roll it onto a bamboo stick. Everyone does surprisingly well at this because by this time, participants have gotten used to handling the kamaboko knife. Our chikuwa skewers are then placed in a rotating roaster for 15 minutes.



There are various displays to entertain visitors while waiting for our fish pastes to cook such as an Edo-era, hand-operated pounding and grinding mortar as well as various wooden molds used to create ornate, decorative kamaboko used in celebrations. The interactive games are particularly popular with children. A game involves guessing what type of natural ingredients generates the color of the top layer of colored kamaboko. Tea leaves give a vivid green, dark seaweed produces a black hue and an citrus fruits turn the fish paste orange in color. The second floor is a gallery that overlooks the main floor and displays artwork done on the back of kamaboko wooden slabs. There are whimsical works by school children as well as clever images by professional artists.



Before long, the chikuwa is ready to eat. This is tasty stuff. The skin is slightly burned and crispy, and the fish paste hot and aromatic. Next door to the museum is Kamaboko no Sato, the large retail outlet selling an enormous range of fish paste products, local seafood and even beer made from microbreweries. Kamaboko is usually regarded as a cheap snack, but Suzuhiro products are of a higher quality. “It has a stronger fish taste,” someone commented upon sampling a piece of paste dipped in soy sauce. It has a more fish taste. Indeed, a higher percentage of fish is clearly used in Suzuhiro products than ones on sale at supermarkets. There are also specialty products here such as kamaboko where you create your own design to be engraved into the top pink layer of the loaf. If you get hungry for more than fish paste, across the road, there are several restaurants, including a buffet, a fine dining Japanese restaurant and a soba (buckwheat noodle) shop.


Odawara is home to one of Japan’s most famous historical castles. With its view over the Pacific Ocean, foreign visitors have called this one of the most “romantic” castles in the country. The castle museum has information in English. Combining the castle visit with kamaboko-making is a fun-filled day trip from Tokyo.







There are four sessions between 10:20 and 14:50 for making kamaboko and chikuwa seven days a week. It costs 1,575 yen ($18) for one person. On Wednesdays, there is only chikuwa to be made but there are six sessions between 10:30 and 15:30, which costs 525 yen ($6) for each person. Reservations can be made at: (form in Japanese only) Within 72 hours, call 0465-24-6262 to reserve over the phone. Weekends are usually booked up one month in advance.


Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum

245 Kazamatsuri, Odawara City, Kanagawa

TEL0465-24-6262 (Japanese)





What is kamaboko?

Kamaboko is a Japanese processed seafood paste made from the filets of white fish (various species), salt, Japanese wine, cornstarch and egg white pureed together. It is formed into a loaf onto a small wooden slab and then steamed. It preserves well natural tastes because it is steamed at a low temperature. It is eaten cold as an appetizer or snack and hot in soups. Chikuwa is the same pureed fish except the paste is wrapped around a bamboo stick and then broiled. It is characterized by having a brown skin and being hollow in the middle. Fish pastes are a tasty snack and a good source of protein,


Fish paste has been eaten as early as the Muromachi Period (1338–1573). Odawara’s kamaboko gained fame in the Edo Period (1603-1868). Being one of the 53 station cities along Japan’s main transportation corridor, the Tokaido road, many travellers enjoyed snacking on the kamaboko of this seaside city.




How to make kamaboko:

  • Pick up the dollop of fish paste with your kamaboko knife which has a dull edge and slam it onto the plastic cutting board emphatically several times to burst the air pockets. If this process is not done properly, it will result in paste with undesirable pockets of air.
  • Next, place the fish paste onto the wooden slab using your knife. Shaping it into a semi-circular shape is challenging. Using both flat sides of the kamaboko knife, the blob can be molded. It is important to wipe the knife clean of excess fish paste clean on the side of the table frequently.
  • To finish, it is okay to “cheat” by smoothening it out with your fingertips.
  • The paste is then placed in an oven to steam at a low temperature for one hour. This method of curing results in it being delicious for a long time without preservatives.


How to make chikuwa:

  • The same fish paste is pounded into the cutting board again to eliminate air pockets.
  • It is then spread onto the cutting board into a sheet about 2cm thick.
  • Next, put the kamaboko knife under the paste and then place the paste onto the top of the bamboo rod. Using the blunt knife, place the paste onto the stick while turning it. Keep it rotating until you have finished placing the paste.
  • With your knife and fingertips, even out the paste.
  • It is then roasted on an open pit for 15 minutes before it is ready to be eaten.


投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時:

Japanese Fable: The Old Man with a Lump

The Old Man with a Lump


A long, long time ago, in a certain place, there lived an old man with a big lump on his cheek. Whenever the old man was cutting firewood, the lump kept swinging and swinging. It was a lump that really got in the way. But the old man didn’t worry about it at all. He was a very relaxed old man.


In the same village there lived another old man with a lump on his cheek. Perhaps it was because the lump on his cheek got in the way and really bothered him, but this old particular man was always angry and in a bad mood.


One day, the relaxed old man was cutting wood deep in the forest when suddenly, out of the blue, it started to rain, drip, drip, drip. Soon, in the shake of a lamb’s tail, it was pouring down. “This is completely hopeless! If I stay out here, I’ll catch a cold.” So saying, the old man rushed under a big tree to take shelter from the rain there. After a while, the old man fell fast asleep.


Eventually it stopped raining, and the bright moon came out, but even so the old man stayed fast asleep, snoring loudly. In no time at all, it was midnight. And then, coming from who knows where, for who knows what reason, he began to hear lively festival-like music. “Huh? Where can that be coming from?” When the old man, who had completely woken up by now, headed in the direction of the music, he was completely floored. “Whaaaattt?!”


To his amazement, a group of monsters who lived deep in this forest, were in a circle singing and dancing! Dah dah dee dum, dah dah dee dum


There were red monsters, blue monsters, black monsters, big monsters, small monsters. All of them were drinking, singing, and having a great time.


The old man, who at first had been afraid, after a while forgot his fear and without thinking, joined in the dancing himself. “Oh, this is a really fun dance!”


Because the old man’s dancing was so good and he was enjoying himself so much, the monsters started dancing with the old man.


Finally the leader of the monsters stood up and held hands with the old man and danced with him. The relaxed old man and the cheerful monsters kept on dancing, completely forgetting about the time. Eventually, the sky in the east grew bright. Dawn had come already.


“Cock a doodle doo!” “Oh, the first cock of the dawn has crowed.” Once it becomes morning, the monsters have to return to their homes.


“Hey, old man, come and dance again tonight. I’ll keep this lump of yours till then. If you come tonight, you can have it back, OK?” And the leader of the monsters plucked the old man’s lump off his face. Instinctively, the old man stroked his cheek. “Oh, my lump has gone!” Without leaving any scar or causing any pain, the old man’s lump had cleanly disappeared!


 After that, the old man returned to his village. Thrilled with what had happened to him the previous night, he told the other old man with a lump on his cheek all about it.


“What! The monsters took off your lump?!” This old man was really envious. “Right! If that’s the case, I’ll also get my lump taken away by the monsters.”

So, when evening came, the second old man with a lump set out for the depths of the forest. At last, he began to hear the sound of the festival music.


 “If I go to where the sound’s coming from, they’ll take away my lump!” So the old man walked towards the place where the monsters had gathered in a circle and were dancing. But the moment he saw the monsters’ scary faces, his legs began to tremble and he couldn’t walk any further.


“I’m a.. a.. a.. afraid.”


But unless he went to where the monsters, he wouldn’t be able to have them take away his lump. So the old man at last gathered his courage and threw himself in front of the monsters.


“Hey, we’ve been waiting for you!”


“Please do a funny dance again for us tonight!”


The monsters were very happy.


But there was no way that the old man, who was so frightened of the monsters that he couldn’t stop trembling, could be expected to do any kind of funny dance.


“Hey, what’s that terrible dancing?” Because the old man’s dancing skills were so poor, the leader of the monsters gradually fell into a bad mood. Then he became angry and yelled, “You fool, you’re a hopeless dancer! I’ll give you back what you left behind last night. But never come back here again!”


And that’s how the other old man ended up getting a second lump on his cheek.

投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時:

Preventing Illegal Parking in Japan

Preventing Illegal Parking

Illegally parked bicycles outside of rail stations can be a real nuisance, creating eyesores and blocking pedestrian traffic. Even after pay parking for two-wheelers is provided, people still leave their bicycles along the street. To deal with this problem, one station in Osaka came up with the idea of encouraging school children to draw pictures pleading for cooperation, which were affixed to the street. In spots with these pictures, fewer people parked their bicycles atop the pictures, but instead moved just a short distance away. It was like a cat-and-mouse game.

投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時:

Recharging While Parking in Japan

Recharging While Parking

If electric vehicles (EVs) are to become adopted widely, it will be necessary to increase recharging facilities. At the same time, while it’s important to reduce the time required for recharging, it is unlikely that the time can be shortened to about 5 minutes, which is the time needed to fill a car’s tank with gasoline. From around two years ago, more parking lots began installing recharger units for EVs. Times 24 company, a major operator of pay parking lots, currently offers recharger units in 85 of its facilities in the greater Tokyo area.

投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時:

Okamoto Taro Mural in Shibuya

“The Myths of Tomorrow,” created by the late avant-garde artist Taro Okamoto, has gone on permanent display in the Shibuya Station building in Tokyo. Standing 5.5 meters high by 30 meters in length, this huge mural’s theme is based on the instant of detonation of a U.S. thermonuclear test device in 1954. The mural was embellished by a certain group of artists subsequent to the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster. The group’s image, painted on canvas in the mural’s lower right hand corner, accurately depicted a scene of the damaged nuclear reactors. The company responsible for maintenance promptly removed it, but if Mr. Okamoto were still alive today, I wonder what he would have said.

投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時:

Factory Fashions in Japan

Factory Fashions

(Photos courtesy of Kawasaki City Tourist Association)

In 2007, “Kojo Moe” (factory fetish) became a popular buzzword, spawning a number of books and even going so far as to be nominated as one of the year’s trendy new words. Four years on, the phenomenon remains popular. In mixi, Japan’s largest SNS, more than 25,000 people have joined a community called the “Group That Loves Factories and Refineries.” The Hato Bus company, which operates tours to sightseeing spots in and around Tokyo, has even been successful in promoting evening tours to industrial plants in Kawasaki City. While such places may appear as gloomy sources of pollution by day, they look quite exotic when lit up at night.

投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時:

Alps in Japan: Not Only Mt. Fuji in Japan

Enjoy Tateyama and Kamikochi’s cool climate and billowing winds
Undeniably perfect for hiking, trekking, romantic places and relaxation

Discover the scenic beauty of Northern Japan, the Japanese Alps – Kamikochi.

Kamikochi has an average height of 1,500 meters (4,921 ft) and has 5C (41F) average temperature. It is a must-see place during summer wherein it features high and steep mountains like Nishihotakadake with 2,909 meters high, Okuhotakadake (3,190 m), Maehotakadake (3,090 m), and the active volcano Yakedake (2,455 m).

It is located at Azumi Village, Nagano Prefecture and the only access would be by bus and train that has approximately 2 hours drive from Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture. Private cars are strictly banned in this place. The popular resort is open from April 22 to November 15.

In the core of Kamikochi, there is a wooden suspension bridge called Kappa Bridge. The peak of the said mountains above that is over 3,000 meters above sea level can be viewed from this bridge. You can also see the Yakedake, having some smokes from its volcanic activity.

Don’t be contented with backdrops, pack your things and experience it by yourself to feel the true meaning of EXCITEMENT

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Japan’s most outstanding mountain tourism spot that has unique and spectacular route through the Northern Japan Alps. It has a length of 37 kilometers and as large as 1,975 meters vertical interval. This route was accomplished in year 1971 to connect Toyama City in Toyama Prefecture with Omachi Town in Nagano Prefecture.

This place is covered by various means of transportation, including cable cars, trolley buses and a ropeway or tramway. The route is particularly famous for the high snow walls that line some of its roads in spring. The entire route is open from April 16 to November 30, 2011.

Kurobe Dam in Lake Kurobe

This Japan’s largest and tallest dam is a 186-meter high. Approximately, up to 15 tons of water per second is stunningly discharged through the dam. You can take a half-hour ride on the Garube, a sightseeing boat, to catch the bracing breeze of Lake Kurobe. The construction of the dam started in 1956, and it was completed in 1963. This service begins from the 1st day of June to mid October. Sightseeing boats will be operated on the lake from June to early November.

If you are looking for some adventure that guarantees a high level of exhilaration moments, TATEYAMA KUROBE ROPEWAY is one that fits you.

Witness the incredible view of Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture rising in an aerial tramway with the lift length of 1.7 kilometers and a vertical interval of 488 meters (1,601 ft). Tateyama Ropeway allowed 80 passengers for a seven- minute ride. The wide area exhibits the lovely environment of Tateyama Kurobe like its forestry, lake and mountains.
Another reason to visit this route is the Midagahara plateau. This plateau had been formed by the erupted lava from Mount Tateyama volcano more than 100,000 years ago. High moors spread around here and they are filled with many alpine plants such as daylilies, cotton grasses in summer.

Tateyama Ropeway and Midagahara plateau is one of the highlights of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Its magnificent scale, varied geography, alpine flowers, and wildlife attract visitors of all kinds.

投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時:

Kachikachi Yama (Mount Click Clack)

A long, long time ago, in the mountain behind an old man’s house, there lived a badger.

 He was a nasty badger, and when the old man was working in his fields, the badger would call him names, saying, “Hey, you stupid old idiot! You stupid old idiot!” Then, in the evenings, the mean badger would go and steal potatoes from the old man’s fields.

 After a while, the old man began to lose patience with the badger and his tricks, and so he set a trap in his field and caught the badger. Then he hung the badger from the ceiling and said to his wife, “Wife, this badger has a nasty character, so you absolutely must not release him from this trap.” So saying, the old man went to work in his fields.

 When the old man had gone, the badger said to the nice old woman, “Old lady, I am sorry for what I have done. I won’t do bad things any more. To atone for my sins, I’d be glad to massage your shoulders.”

 The old woman, believing what the badger said, released him from the trap.

 “Ha, ha, you stupid old hag, believing what a badger says!” Saying this, the badger ran away to escape into the mountain behind the house.

 Then a kind rabbit came along. “Old lady, what’s the matter?”

“The badger’s gone and run away!”

“Oh, that badger with the nasty character, right? I’ll punish him for you!”

 The rabbit thought of ways to get back at the badger, and first decided to ask him to go and cut some grass. “Badger, how about going to the mountain to cut some grass?”

 “Sounds good. OK, let’s go!”

 Then, on the way back from cutting the grass, the rabbit used a stone as a flint to light the grass that the badger was carrying on his back, “Click, clack!”

 “Huh? Rabbit, what was that click, clack sound just now?”

 “Oh, this mountain is known as Mount Click Clack, so it sometimes makes a click clack sound.”


 After a while, the grass the badger was carrying on his back started to burn fiercely.

 “It’s getting hot for some reason. It’s hot, so hot! Help me!”

 The badger got a big burn on his back.

 The next day, the rabbit went along to see the badger, taking some medicine he had made out of chilies.

 “Badger, I’ve brought some medicine for your burns.”

 “That’s kind of you. That Mount Click Clack is a horrible mountain. I can’t stand the pain on my back, it’s really hurting. Please hurry up and put on the ointment.”

 “OK, I will. Show me your back.”

 The rabbit rubbed the ointment made of chilies on the burn on the badger’s back.

 “Ow, that hurts, it hurts! This ointment’s really painful!”

 “Just put up with it. Medicines that work well usually hurt,” said the rabbit, and rubbed in even more ointment.”

 “Aaarrrggghhhh!!!” It was so painful that the badger passed out.

 The badger’s back healed after a few days had passed, and so the rabbit invited him to go fishing.

 “Badger, I’ve built some boats, so let’s go to the sea to do some fishing.”

 “That sounds good. OK, let’s go.”

 When they got to the sea, there were two boats.

 Badger, you’re colored brown, so you can have this brown boat.”

 So saying, the rabbit himself got on a boat made of wood, while the boat the badger got on was made of mud.

 The two boats went further and further out to sea.

 “Badger, how are you doing? Is that boat nice to ride on?”

 “Yes, it’s nice. Rabbit, thank you for making a boat for me…. Uh-oh, it seems as if water might be seeping in…”

 The boat made of mud was gradually melting into the sea.

 “Oh no, help me! The boat’s melting away!”

 Eventually the entire boat the badger was riding on sunk under the waves, and the badger almost drowned. The rabbit told the badger, “It was a punishment from what you did with the old couples.” So the poor badger had to swim back to the shore.

投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時:

Japanese Fable: Why Does the Jellyfish Have No Bones?

A long time ago, Princess Okisaki of the Imperial Dragon Palace at the bottom of the sea suddenly said that she wanted to eat the liver of a monkey. So the king of the Imperial Dragon Palace asked the turtle to get a monkey’s liver for the princess.

The turtle went to a certain seashore.
There, under a tree on the beach, she saw a monkey. “Monkey, monkey, won’t you
come with me to the Imperial Dragon Palace under the sea? I’ll treat you to lots of delicious food there!”

“Really? You’ll treat me to some delicious
food? In that case, let’s go!” Saying this, the money climbed onto the turtle’s
back. With the monkey on her back, the turtle headed deeper and deeper into the

Finally, they reached the Imperial Dragon Palace.
Leaving the monkey waiting outside the palace gate, the turtle went off to
inform the king that the monkey had arrived.

The jellyfish, who was serving as the palace
gatekeeper, asked the monkey, “Monkey, what in all creation made you come to
the Imperial Dragon Palace?   

“The turtle told me that if I came to the Imperial Dragon Palace, she’d
treat me to lots of delicious food,” said the monkey, feeling pleased with

But the jellyfish burst out laughing. “Ha,
ha, ha! That’s a lie. Monkey, you’ve been tricked. The real reason is that they
want to give your liver to Princess Okisaki to eat.”

Just then the turtle reappeared on the
scene. “Well, monkey, come along inside. The king says he will treat you to
some delicious food.”

But the monkey said, “Hm,it seems there’s a
problem here. I just heard from the jellyfish that you really want to feed my
liver to Princess Okisaki, don’t you? You should have told me sooner. Actually,
today I hung my liver out on the branch of a tree to dry.”

“What? You say you left your liver behind?
If that’s so, it can’t be helped. Then please climb on my back again and let’s
go back to get your liver.”

So saying, the turtle had the monkey climb
on her back again and they headed back up to the sea’s surface.  

But this time, as soon as they reached the
shore, the monkey immediately escaped into the branches of a tree.

“Hey, turtle, you’ve been tricked! There’s
no way I’d be drying out my liver now, is there? I just can’t imagine having my
liver eaten, so I tricked you.”

The turtle had no choice but to go back to
the Imperial Dragon Palace. When he got back there, he told the king that he had been tricked
by the monkey. The king was really angry. “You stupid jellyfish, for talking
too much! As punishment, I’ll have all your bones taken out!”

And that’s how it happened that the
jellyfish had all his bones taken out and became a being with a wibbly-wobbly

投稿者:Ryoji 投稿日時: