Living with Machiya House and Four Seasons
Late spring comes to Hida when pale yellow-green butterbur sprouts(Fukinotou) peek out from the melting snow. People remove the snow fence(Yukikakoi) around the house and start to prepare for farm crops such as rice plants. The carps returns in six months from the wintering spot to Seto River (First Sunday April in evry year), and bustling twon is coming back after the quiet winter season. Furukawa Festival is held as if it was waiting for the cherry blossoms, and people share the joy of the arrival of spring. Many small spring festivals are also held in surrounding villages. Japan Alps, Norikura and Ontake mountains seen from Furukawa remain to have snow on the top until May. Rural districts start to be irrigated, and farmers will be busy preparing for rice nursery (Naeshiro-Kaki).
It can get rather hot during the day, but you can feel the pleasant breeze in mornings and evenings. If you walk the town in the early morning of summer, you see many people cleaning their front door of the house, taking spider’s web off from the lattice(Senbon-Koushi). This kind of daily routine of residents maintains the charm of the town, where you feel composed atmosphere along the houses built in the traditional method of Hida. In the fields around the town area, people take care of colorful vegetables that will later be decorating their dining tables. In the evening we can see people watering the front street to invite night wind into the house, or chatting with neighbors sitting on the front porch, as the most typical scenes in summertime. Young people who went to the cities come back during Obon Festival, and the bustle comes back to the town. Festival with fireworks and Bon-Odori (festival dance) are held, and the marketplace behind Hida no Takumi Bunka Kan is lined with lots of fresh vegetables.
Leaves of large ginko tree in Fukuzenji Alley colors and gold rice plants will be shinning and swaying in the wind in the autumn. It is time to get ready for snowy winter. Ripe persimmons are hanged on the eaves of the house to dry, also dried radish and cabbages are further stocked in the warehouse with a stable temperature until it beacomes. Tsukemono, which will be valuable ingredients during snow-bound winter period. Branches of pine tree in the garden are reinforced by ropes so that it should not break by the weight of snow, and wooden fences are put around the house to keep protected from the heavy snow. Japan Alps start being covered with snow in the middle of October, a little earlier than the town. Morning Mist (Asagiri) in which the sky in the basin is covered with the fog is a proof of a rich natural circulation, and it can only be seen in this season when the temperature difference within the day is intense, (view point at Mt. Anbou A fresh blue sky after the morning mist clears up is exceptional. Peripheral villages hold autumn festivals one after another, to express the gratitude for the good harvest, It is also the time for the carp in Seto River to move to the wintering spot, Masujima Castle site, in the four the Sunday November every year.
The whole town will have been completely covered in snow by the end of the year. It snows silently and that creates monotones elegance in this quiet town. Shoveling snow in front of the house is a daily routine. When they have heavy snow, some exciting snow removal from the roof can be seen all over the town. Snow removal is done by all family members from children to grandparents and this is essential for them to keep the good relationship with old wooden houses. Until 50 years ago when snow removal infrastructure was not in place, people created 10-step-snowstairs to the upper floor of the house to get out on to the street. “Sandera-Mairi” on Jan 15th is a unique event of winter, people dressed in Kimono and walk through snowy town to visit three temples in one night.