A Sea Story2014.08.24 by Cathy Hirano
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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