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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nine Days in Japan - 16 November 2015

Chiiori Farm, Iya Valley

Gladys Yean's report - 

Chiiori or "House of Flute" is an abandoned 200 year old Japanese farmhouse in the historic Iya Valley, a remote mountainous region of the Tokushima prefecture in the island of Shikoku. The farm was purchased and restored by Alex Kerr (an American expert on Japanese culture) in 2007. Chiiori is now a home to staff members of the Chiiori Trust, a non profit organisation based in the Iya Valley. The Trust is working towards encouraging sustainable tourism in this unspoilt and picturesque region.

The wooden farmhouse with thatched roof is perched on a hill slope. The farmhouse gave us an idea about the lifestyle of the family which owned it, decades ago. The surrounding area of the farmhouse were also leaden with clues - vegetable and fruits were being grown in little patches on the slopes of steep hill sides as there were almost no sizeable flat land. 

The areas around the other farmhouses also gave tantalising clues about the scarcity of land - gravestones were dotted all over the place - at the corner of roads, at the edges of farm lands, on hill slopes etc There seemed to be no central 'graveyard.' 

The picturesque setting of the Chiiori farmhouse

The irori is a sunken hearth in the middle of the traditional Japanese living room,
filled with sand and ashes. The hearth is traditionally made of wood and not
fireproof as in this case.

The entire tour group assembled in the farmhouse

Chow Peng, Tutu and Shona

Tania and Lee

Gladys & Shona
The Iya Valley
The beautiful Iya Valley on the island of Shikoku in Japan is supposed to be the final refuge for members of the Taira Clan (Heike) in the aftermath of the Genpei War in the 12th Century. The Genpei War is a long wrought out struggle for supremacy between the Taira Clan (Heike) and the Minamoto Clan (Genji). The Taira Clan ultimately lost the war and surviving clan members had to flee into the mountains of Shikoku, their traditional stronghold. Their descendants are still living in this region, according to local folklore.

Kazurabashi is designated as a tangible folk cultural property of Japan. Made of Actinidia arguta (hardy kiwi, related to kiwifruit, which is actually native to East Asia) vines, the bridge is suspended at a dizzying height above the Iya River. According to legend, the fallen Heike clan built bridges using vines so that they could be cut down when pursued by enemies.

Kazurabashi is suspended over the Iya River. 

Crossing this bridge borders between thrilling and terrifying!

Hotel Iya Onsen
Hotel Iya Onsen is a traditional style Japanese Hotel, located in the Tokushima. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that the onsen or hot spring bath lies in the valley below the hotel and one has to take a cable car to reach it!

A wonderful kaiseki experience to end the day:

Rich and Roger were late for dinner...

The Onsen
The onsen (hot spring bath) is outdoors and provides a wonderful view of the Iya gorge.

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