Aikido Bruxelles / Tsumago Waki-honjin Okuya
Tsumago Waki-honjin Okuya
from the Victoria University of Wellington School of Design (New Zealand)
extrait d’ rapport de voyage d’étude au Japon en 2004
Tsumago is the second post town from the south on the Nakasendo mountain road to and from Edo, the old capital of Japan. Tsumago was threatened with gradual decline and desertion after the train line was constructed in 1911 , by-passing the town. Tsumago experienced decades of neglect and that’s probably what ultimately saved it. Subject to almost no modernization in the the 20th century, the town was perfect for renovation and restoration in the early 1970s, and in a rare show of insight, electrical wires, TV antennas, and telephone poles were hidden from sight along the main road. Tsumago was first designated as a protected area for the preservation of traditional buildings by the Japanese Government in 1976. Tsumago looks today much as it did back in the days of Edo. On the main street of Tsumago is found the Tsumagojuku Honjin, an officially appointed inn that once served as a way station for daimyo (feudal lords) who travelled the Nakasendo Highway to and from Edo.
Like all honjin (an inn designated as the resting place for daimyo), it’s divided into two parts: a large, grand area for the feudal lord and his attendants, and a few smaller, simpler rooms for the family who managed the inn. Today, very few original honjin buildings survive. The oldest, and perhaps best preserved are to be found on the Nakasendo.
The Waki-honjin Okuya, the town’s secondary inn, was used by court nobles or by daimyo when the Honjin was already occupied. The present house, a lovely traditional structure with a garden, dates from 1877 and was rebuilt with hinoki cypress trees, a fact that has a special significance for this region. For centuries, all the way through the Edo Period, wood in the Kiso Valley was used instead of rice to pay taxes. Commoners were prohibited from cuttingdown trees, and those who did so literally lost their heads.