Akaishi Bairin Plum Orchard 赤石梅林

20190418_041426sWe are now at a small valley near the east coast of Shikoku Island, where plums are produced for liquor and ume-boshi, pickles. We were here 5 years ago too, but this time we went to the deepest end of the valley. In the last blog I wrote it is almost equivalently beautiful to the many beautiful villages in Italy. After removing my fantasy to Italy and nostalgia to Shikoku, I still think so. This landscape is everywhere in japan but this place has something special. There are no buildings which use industrial cladding materials. There is very little traffic. These two conditions make this valley appear to be frozen in time from 100 yeas ago. There is no way to cross the mountain through the end of the valley, so no cars from outside use the valley. There are no shops, no advertising, no parking, no vending machines (which are everywhere even many in the beautiful country side of Japan). The locals go shopping at supermarkets in the next closest village. The old traditional houses are not poor, they are well maintained probably because of the plum industry.

四国の南東部、海岸からほど近いところにある梅林の渓谷に来ている。5年前にも来ていた。そこからさらに谷の奥まで来ている。前のブログで、イタリアなどの風光明媚な村々に比べても、勝るとも劣らないと書いた。イタリアへのあこがれと、四国へのノスタルジーどちらも注意深く心の中から差し引いた(つもりで)後でも やはりそう感じる。わたしだけであろうか?私がこの谷に感じる美しさは、日本のどこにでもあるのだが、それでも特別ではある。ここには特殊な条件がある。新建材で覆われた建物がまったくない。車の交通量が極端に少ない。その二つから、100年前の景色が凍り付けにされているように見える。この谷を登りつめると、行き止まりになって山を越えることが出来ない。そのため通過交通が一切ない。商店も、看板も、駐車場も自動販売機もない。谷の外へ出ればスーパーはすぐそこ。それでも梅産業のおかげだろうか、古い家々が美しく維持されている。


At a rice paddy I timidly spoke to the people working, pretending we are local from near by but just lost. We clearly looked like strangers. I rehearsed  in my brain, preparing in my local dialect making sure not to speak in Tokyo dialect… ” Excuse me but what is the fence you are putting up for, why do you need it?”



An Immediate smile returned “ against deer.”  “ what? deer here? unbelievable.” This area shouldn’t be remote enough to have deer. How quiet is this village.




After taking these photos, I realized they look as if they are from a Japanese garden. I thought Japanese gardens may be an abstraction of this landscape. Then no, no, I thought, eyes which have been seeing Japanese gardens find this landscape beautiful. Finally I thought, maybe it is both like an egg-chicken conundrum.



20190418_035327sBy the way, isn’t this bridge scarily thin? We went down under the bridge, and  found that only three “I” beams are holding it up. You hardly see this thickness unless it is someone who is pursuing the simplest proportions of modern architecture. It also looks like a Japanese sword. We left there feeling like we had received a special gift got a godsend.





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