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Takamatsu, a city of art facing a jewel of the world: the Seto


A Sea Story

2014.08.24 by Cathy Hirano
Takamatsu is situated on a sea which until the 19th century had no name. Or rather it had many different names that referred to specific parts of it. It was christened not by the Japanese but by visitors from abroad, who referred to it as the "inland sea" in their travelogues and praised it as one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Japanese adopted the term and it is now the Seto Inland Sea.

Part of its charm was and still is the distinct culture and character of the people populating its 1,000-plus islands.

Eighty years ago, the Inland Sea was designated as one of Japan's first national parks. It is also the largest. With the 80th anniversary this year, its national park status is getting some extra attention, which is a very good thing. The Inland Sea is still incredibly beautiful, but we can't afford to take that beauty for granted.

In the mid-20th century, economic and industrial development took precedence over conservation, and some of those scars still remain. Over the last few decades, however, a number of creative efforts have been made to revive both the population and the environment. One such initiative is the Setouchi Trienalle, an international art festival established in 2010 that features art rooted in nature and community life. Such as the paintings on these fishing boats by Team Ogi.

And this installation of bottled memories of island life by Mayumi Kuri.


The Trienalle appears to be positively impacting the island of Ogijima.

In 2013, a visit during the Trienalle inspired three families to move back to the island, resulting in the reopening of the local school and the construction of a new school building to meet current codes.

Another five people have also relocated to the island, and several new businesses in the form of cafes and rest houses have started up. Early this month, the village held its biannual shrine festival. Despite heavy rain, there was a joyful turnout of elderly islanders with their children and grandchildren who came from various parts of Japan to participate, as well as recent immigrants and Ogijima lovers.

The festival was so packed, it was impossible to get good photos without a ladder so I'll let David tell the story at http://setouchiexplorer.com/ogijima-matsuri-2014/ . On our way out, we got proof that traditional island hospitality is alive and well. This granddad treated us to piping hot snails with soy-vinegar sauce. They were grilled by his grandsons who were visiting for their summer holidays.

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This blog's writer

Cathy Hirano

I've lived in Japan since 1978. After graduating from a Japanese university with a BA in cultural anthropology in 1983, I worked as a translator in a Japanese consulting engineering firm in Tokyo for several years. My Japanese husband and I moved to Takamatsu in 1987 to raise our two children in a slower-paced environment away from the big city pressures. We've never regretted it. I work as a freelance translator and interpreter and am involved in a lot of community work, including volunteering for Second Hand, a local NGO that supports educational and vocational training initiatives in Cambodia, and for the Takamatsu International Association. I love living in Takamatsu.

Discover Scenic Sites and Art around Takamatsu on Bicycle Aji stone and stone art appreciation 1 day course Art, Architecture, Sightseeing in 1 Day Seto Inland Sea Jewel of the World 1 Day Satisfaction Course Learn about Takamatsu  in 1 minute Seto Inland Sea,  Jewel of the World Let’s enjoy learning Bonsai skills Access to major tourist areas

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