Totsukawa: Autumn in a Hidden Village *RERUN
Totsukawa Village is located on the southern tip of Nara Prefecture in the center of the Kii Peninsula. Most of the village is covered with steep mountains, and the residents live in more than 50 settlements. It is the villagers themselves who are responsible for keeping the traditions and opening up the future of the village. The running of the settlements is thoroughly discussed by everyone involved. This is an autumn story about a village different from any other in Japan.

On Top of an Endless Mountain

One settlement is located at the top of a mountain. It is called "Hatenashi", which in Japanese means "endless." The steep mountain roads leading to the "Hatenashi" settlement is part of the Kumano Kodo route, registered as a World Heritage Site in 2004. This network of routes is for pilgrims who visit the many sacred places on the Peninsula. Pilgrims have traveled these ways for over 1,000 years.

The Spirit of Unity Drives the Village

The suspension bridge in Tanize is a popular spot for tourists. It is 297 meters long and the longest suspension bridge in Japan that is used by local residents. In Tanize, the policies of running the settlement have always been decided through discussion, and everyone is involved. The suspension bridge was built 65 years ago with everyone's money to help their daily lives, when Tanize faced a crisis of being isolated. Today, it is still customary for the residents to gather every month and discuss matters about the settlement.

"Tricking Husbands," a Local Specialty

There is a local specialty that is made when the village mountains start changing to autumn colors. It is a soup dish with what looks like mochi, or rice cake. Usually, mochi is made from rice, but this mochi uses millet. It is called "Mukodamashi," which means "tricking husbands." The name came about because wives used to mix in millet with what little glutinous rice they had, and tricked their husbands saying it was mochi at a time when there wasn't much food.