Mar. 21st, 2014

sechan19: (anne)
The days following the nomikai were to continue the fast pace that had been set by the first half of the program, and Team Ise was well up for the challenge.

We began the first day of the rest of the trip (a Thursday) with a series of morning lectures on Ise's early economic history, including the industries that sprang up around the ceremonial rebuilding of the shrines at Ise (and around the pilgrimages to Ise that eventually began to take place in the medieval period) and the agricultural industries of the region: in particular the salt, alcohol, and fishing industries—all of which remain vital sources of Ise agribusiness today.

Following our morning lectures, we headed out for an extensive walking tour of the Kawasaki (Rivershore) and Furuichi (Old City) areas of Ise. We were led by Chieda-sensei, who had taken T. and I on our weekend tour of the old Ise pilgrimage routes and sūtra burial sites. Chieda-sensei is one of Kogakkan's most personable professors (which is saying quite a lot, as Kogakkan University is blessed with many personable professors)—an educator whose knowledge of the layout of Ise City is truly remarkable. I think his knowledge of the city is honestly only exceeded by his desire to share that knowledge with others. Needless to say, I was beyond delighted to take another walking tour under his guidance.

Our ramble led us first through Kawasaki, where we had the opportunity to view several Edo (1615-1868) period buildings from the outside and in. Gracious shopkeepers allowed us to roam through backrooms, busy craftsmen made time to give us demonstrations of their work, and small local history museums provided intensive guided tours. Then we traveled to Furuichi, where more classic architecture awaited us—this time accompanied by spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. (Furuichi is located on a hill, overlooking the river valley below and providing a line of sight straight to the surrounding mountain ranges that encompass the valley.) In Furuichi we were able to tour the interior of an old Japanese house—including the kitchens and old storage areas, which were absolutely fascinating.

We finished up our tour with a visit to the Ito Shoha Museum—an museum dedicated to the art of local nihonga artist Ito Shoha (1877-1968), whose paintings were evocative of traditional Japan and its continued importance to modern art practice, and then we had a very refreshing walk home in the afternoon sun.

Friday saw us spend a relatively quiet day preparing for our weekend trip to Nara and Kyoto with extensive lectures on the cultural and political relationship between Ise and the ancient capitals of Heijō-kyō (present-day Nara) and Heian-kyō (present-day Kyoto). Our lecturers included the president of the university and a member of the university's board of directors—learned scholars with specialized knowledge of Ise during the Nara (710-794) and Heian (794-1185) periods who took time out of their extremely busy schedules to offer us their insight into Ise's history. I took copious notes and then went back to the dormitory for an early night; we had an early start planned for our weekend trip—which, with multiple stops planned in both Nara and Kyoto, was set to be an intense (though rewarding) experience.

May 2014

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