Hida Folk Village
Hida Folk Village is a sort of Japanese Colonial Williamsburg. Its origins go back to when several villages in the remote, mountainous Hida region of central Japan were scheduled to be flooded due to the construction of a hydroelectric dam.
In order to preserve the area’s cultural heritage, conservationists worked to move various artifacts and whole houses, some of them more than 200 years old, to Hida Folk Village. It’s an open air museum and a monument to the strenuous way of life that existed here before electrification, which did not come to this region until the 1960s.
The bus ride from Takayama to Hida Folk Village is less than 20 minutes. After getting off the bus, you can look back toward Takayama and see this temple along with the distant mountains.
There is a large pond near the entrance.
Across the pond you get your first look at the buildings of this recreated village.
These statues come from a village crematorium and are about 300 years old. If I understood the signs correctly, they are all of the Buddhist spirit Jizo, whose representations always come in sets of six. Each one is responsible for a different aspect of the transmigration of souls.
This house shows how the Hida people adapted to areas of very heavy snowfall.
That is a lot of thatch.
Here’s the roof seen from the inside of the attic.
This old loom was in another building. It goes back to the silk mills that were built in the region late in the 19th Century.
A wood cutter’s house.
Here’s a reminder of the days before power tools. My muscles hurt just looking at it.
Maintaining these thatch roofs in an authentic manner must be an enormous amount of work.
The roofs made me think about Iris tectorum – Japanese Roof Iris. They really did grow in people’s roofs. Were they planted or is it possible they just found their way there?
This is inside the house of a village headman. He had a large space for public meetings.
More old farm tools. You have to wonder how recently these might have been used.
And how did they work that mortar and pestle?
The house of a village teamster.
Seeing Hida Folk Village reminded me of Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ, where it covered the revolutionary impact that electrification had on rural Texas. All of a sudden, life got a lot easier for a lot of people. I imagine the impact was similar here. Almost impossible now to imagine going back to the days before electricity, but it wasn’t so many generations ago.