Gessotei is an elegant residence with a regal aura, as suggested by the elements for moon and window in its name.
Its history dates back quite a way, starting with its construction in 1793.
Stepping through the well-worn gate, there is a gong with the message, "Visitors, please lightly tap the gong."
Which I did. Upon doing so, a cheerful response came from a voice inside the residence.
I bought a ticket and entered, led by the guide to a room with tatami mats.
It seemed like something was about to begin. After sitting and waiting for a moment, I was served tea and sweets. It was Annou sweet potato.
I did not expect to find Tanegashima's popular delicacy in a place like this.
The taste is sweet. Very sweet. The flavor makes you rethink your whole idea of "potato."
As I was about to take one more bite, an older man with grey hair appeared and quietly sat in front of me.
The other conversations stopped and a stillness naturally came to the room.
The man opened his mouth and began to talk about how guns came to Tanegashima.
He spoke quietly and steadily, while occasionally emphasizing certain points.
The people in the room listened closely to the story.
He asked me, "Would you like to hold a real matchlock?" as he gave me a turn handling the gun.
I took the firearm and couldn't help but notice its hefty weight.
Did they really carry such heavy guns into actual battles?
It gave me a visceral sense of conflict.
The residence itself is also a sight to see.
The ceilings are low to prevent the drawing of swords and there are staircases that can be pulled up to thwart invaders. Features like these offer echoes of the past.
I carefully listened to the stories of this structure built more than 200 years ago.
There are some historical lessons that cannot be found in a classroom.