Exploring Niigatta

Grand Master Hur Nan Kimm Yong- Sup Korea Japan
December 2014- January 2015

At the end of each of the long seminar days we explored the food culture of the area close to our accommodation. We were impressed by the high quality and great variety of food available. When the seminar was completed we took some time to go on a longer excursion into the local area visiting some of the businesses that attract the tourists. – Traditional Japanese cake making, sake and soy sauce production, woodcraft, textile manufacturing and the crafting of knives, kitchen utensils and hand-beaten metal pots all take place in artisan workshops. Whilst the knives in particular are quite expensive they are renown locally and internationally for their superior quality.

We were very fortunate to spend two nights in a very historical cultural location. The landlord who built this very large traditional housing complex for the workers on his rice farm had a generous public mind. Not only did he provide much larger accommodation than is usually provided to workers, he also lived at the center of the complex and included space for public gatherings as well. He cared for his workers like a Lord might have in feudal times.

When the housing was no longer used for the workers it became a spiritual gathering place for Japanese people who lived in the region. So the Japanese Government decided to give this site special heritage status. After the Second World War Japan was temporarily under US military rule. The temporary US military government demolished many sites that were used by Japanese people for provincial meetings, as they feared the Japanese people would become strong and create trouble. In line with their general policy/strategy of population control they also decided to demolish this special complex because of what it symbolized. However one US Military Information officer (a Lieutenant) spoke out very strongly against the demolition, emphasizing the importance of humankinds’ historical heritage. Because of this one person’s caring mind and courage to stand up for what he believed was right such, a beautiful and symbolic treasure was saved!