One hundred drawings portray the customs and scenery of 150 years ago. These scenes are still remarkably visible in the old castle town of Tsuwano, Shimane prefecture. In this episode of Journeys in Japan, Australian actor Luke Bridgford uses the ancient Tsuwano drawings as a map to the town's past, present and future.
Ro 284, Ushiroda, Tsuwano-cho, Ashikagun, Shimane pref.
Washibara 819, Tsuwano-cho, Ashikagun, Shimane pref.
Ha 12-3, Ushiroda, Tsuwano-cho, Ashikagun, Shimane pref.
Traveler: Luke Bridgford > More Info
Occupation:Tech Entrepreneur, Actor & Coach
Length of residence in Japan:On and off for 10 years
Reason:Cultural curiosity & inspiration
Tsuwano to me had the feeling of a tightly packed cultural theme park. A wonderfully forward thinking community set in picturesque surroundings carrying many historical sites and accompanying stories.
Within short distances to the city center, surrounding villages and farmlands; getting from A to B to C was thoroughly enjoyable with unexpected surprises all in between.
It was an interactive history lesson to trace the locations, customs and stories bestowed and captured in Kurimoto Kakusai's drawings. To find many of the original images still very much intact was a very surreal feeling.
Walking through the very well preserved city center, I found myself constantly wondering what life must have been like here some 200 years ago. The air was very clean, butterflies kept me company with birds singing as I explored.
I also found many modern day lessons in Tsuwano, in the form of what comes with a mass tourism boom and then the result when the bubble bursts. From here, finding the inner spirit and innovation of today's Tsuwano community really has me believing they are heading in the right direction. It was clear to me the new students attracted to Tsuwano's recruiting activities have now in fact found a new home and perhaps direction in their lives that the big cities were not offering them.
I loved the examples, such as the teahouse and restaurant offering local wild boar, of focusing on the regions past to define its commercial future. It's a win-win for historical preservation and modern commercialism.
I have traveled to many already popular places in Japan and Tsuwano has a lot if not more to offer in a compact space. I would definitely like to visit again to learn more and to see the fruit of the community's efforts in designing it's modern future.