Everyone is surprised at the knowledge of our ancestors.
As an architectural example, the House of the Furuichi Family has been designated an Important Cultural Property of Japan and is a proud representation of a village home from its time period. I think it is a great treasure of this town. We are blessed with many visitors from all over Japan and I think the reason why is because of the historical merits of the house.
One example is the copper plates wedged between the foundation stones and the bases of the building's pillars. These probably functioned to prevent damage from termites and humidity. Then, there are the red-dyed transoms. These show that people with status had this custom of using bengala (red iron oxide) dyeing. Next, there are the lattice windows. You can adjust the lighting and airflow by sliding the window frame. The latches on the windows also have an interesting structure. There are many more details to mention, and I think people would find each one just as impressive. The intelligence of our ancestors was amazing, wasn't it?
I hope the popularity of this historical house helps revitalize this region.
After I retired, I returned to Tanegashima. Basically, I made a U-turn since I was originally from Nakatane Town. The population is shrinking and the number of children is declining, so for some time I'd been looking for ideas that would bring energy to the town. That was when I found the job of caretaker at the House of the Furuichi Family.
Right now, we offer an extracurricular program, called the Furuichi Family Juku, for local elementary school students. During spring and summer breaks, we invite volunteer teachers to come and teach penmanship using ink and brush. We bring in storytellers to recite old-fashioned tales and we also teach traditional games like takeuma stilts, otedama bean bag tossing, and ohajiki discs (like tiddlywinks). Aside from these, we hold haiku readings for elementary school students and have started a morning market in Sakai Park next door. At the market, we have held events to sell local agricultural and marine products, and many people have come to shop there.
In addition to teaching more people about the history of the House of the Furuichi Family, I hope that our various activities help revitalize this region.
The house is the center of the area, which has a really great environment. In terms of history, this neighborhood has the Tachikiri Ruins nearby (dating back 35,000 years), as well as Sakai Shrine, Yadome-ishi, and the House of the Furuichi Family. Nature around here has also been well preserved. The stream nearby has shrimp and crab that make it a fun place for kids to play. And, we also have the great sago palm tree. If you go to Kumano Beach, a little ways away, there is historic Kumano Shrine. That area has a rich environment with mangrove forests and more. With the House of the Furuichi Family and all of our history and nature for people to experience, I think it would be wonderful if this area can be enjoyed by many people.
■ Favorite places on Tanegashima
I love Kumano Beach. There are the mangrove forests nearby, a camping area, and off-shore islands that are impressive like Ayers Rock. The scenery is really stupendous. The shape of the islands rising in the distance is extremely beautiful. That's my personal favorite.