Saturday, 5 April 2014

Noshiro and Ogata Mura

From Fukaura we went back down the coast to Noshiro, a port town on the Akita coast line that has one of Japan's few coal fired electricity plants.  The city has surely seen better days, but it's still a relatively pleasant city. We popped in to see Kaneyu, opened in 1937 as a restaurant. It's a grand building with impressive tatami hallways.  A group of long retired men from Tokyo was there practicing chanting.
Kaneyu, Noshiro
(It was pouring rain when we were there & this is a picture from 2011)

Kaneyu, Noshiro
After a quick trip to Kaneyu we went on to Ogata mura. Ogata mura is the site of a reclaimed lake, Hachirogata,  in the north east of Akita. It was a shallow lake, the second largest in Japan at the time,  filled in to make ricefields; construction began in 1957 under Dutch command. I  don't know much about the politics that went on behind it, but it seems like a very dubious construction.   

 In the war food shortages were a problem, but after the war things recovered quickly, especially with land reform that enabled the majority of farmers to be farming their own land. By the time construction began to reclaim the land that is now Ogata mura, Japan was more than self sufficient in rice.  It wasn't just Japanese political dodginess,  though political links with the construction industry are absolutely notorious; the World Bank and the UN were also apparently behind the scheme.  

I feel so sad for the fish and the fisherman, the people and fauna that appreciated the lake of old... Japan now pays rice farmers not to farm.  An awful waste of money as well as the environmental destruction.  The area is now used for solar car races as it's one of the few areas of Honshu that has long straight roads.

There is a reclamation museum, which Hiro's parents did the interior work for, that shows the history of the reclamation.
The former Lake Hachirogata

During reclamation


The boats and fishermen on Lake Hachirogata

The process of Reclamation

For some reason there is a preoccupation in Tohoku visitor centres to show stuffed
versions of the native fauna...It seems particularly mournful since the habitat has been destroyed.

Hachirogata in a historical context makes me feel marginally better about it, though not much.
10,000 years ago, when sea levels were lower, there was no lake, the amount of water relative
to land has varied quite a bit over time.

Rice is Nice... very profound...
Bales of Rice

A Ford truck that was a relic of the construction era.
US Foreign Aid?

On a wall in a corridor adjacent to the museum they had
pictures of local flora and their medicinal properties.
Most of the ones that I recognise are mountain vegetables rather than
vegetables that would be growing on the reclaimed land. 

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