25 March 2014

Miyama Japanese Farm Village

Expanse of thatch.
From Kyoto, our group took an enjoyable mini-bus ride north to the rural area of Miyama, a spot popular with Japanese tourists who come to see and photograph this collection of hamlets featuring traditional thatched roof dwellings. Miyama is not on any train route and the bus from Kyoto is infrequent, so private transportation is the best way to get there; this may explain why it was not overrun with tourists.

Forested hills rise behind the village.

A thatched bus station.

The bus station had a small gift shop, with hand-made whisk brooms, a local craft, and a small assortment of snacks.

Picture map.

Entering the village of Kayabuki no Sato.

Thatch and power line.

While the homes retain their thatched roofs and, in many cases, the large central hearths, the dwellings have power, indoor plumbing and propane.  The smoke from the hearth, which exits through decorative gable end vents, helps preserve the thatch, as the fumes act as an insect repellant.  Such roofs are an expensive tradition, however, and the historic district of Kayabuki no Sato, a hamlet within the Miyama region, receives government subsidies.  As private residences, the homes are off-limits to visitors, but there is a folk ways museum. There was little Western language signage, so I'm not sure if the museum was open when we were there; in any case we enjoyed just being outside.

Rice paddy with young plants.

The village is still agricultural, with rice paddies and an elaborate system for channeling irrigation water.

Farmer in field.

Herbs drying outside a home.

Materials for brooms, I think.

Airing the bedding.

Spring was the perfect time to visit.  Japanese homemakers air the family futon covers regularly throughout the year, but it must be a more pleasant chore in breezy sunshine. 

Miyama is in the valley of the Yura River.

Roof materials - thatch, tile, corrugated metal and fiberglass.

Eave detail - lots of labor-intensive layers.

Old farm implements outside the folk museum.

The clipped hedge is a contrast to the wild shrubbery.

Spring daisies against a stone wall.

Daisies in the signage at the village bakery.

Spring brings flowers and tourists.

Last look at a gable end with carved mon, or crest.