Monday, November 14, 2011

Osayo of the Satetsu River

A long time ago, a young man called Santaro was born in the neighboring town of Nagasaka. 

When he was 13, their land, home and other assets were seized to pay debts incurred through his father's alcoholic affliction. Santaro worked hard without complaint serving the master of another house to bring food to their table. He was often allowed to take the leftovers from his master's home.

Santaro was a loyal son and even though he was tired from his day's work, he would endure it  to perform the lion dance throughout the late hours at his drunken father's request. The place of Shishi-ga-hana (Lion's Nose) where Santaro mastered the dance can be visited through our regular boat rides through the Geibikei Gorge.

When Santaro grew older, his maturity and looks adhered him to the hidden affections of a woman called Osayo. Though she was beautiful, she wanted to wash away her dark skin and regularly bathed in the Satetsu River on a daily basis believing her skin would whiten. 

As her skin never did, she kept her desires secret. Her love for Santaro remaining unknown to him and the love that could have been - forever unrequited.

The hardship, hard work, and loyalty to his drunken father commended respect with the locals and word of his piety reached the ears of the Daimyo lord of the time Date Yoshikuni
Santaro quickly became a favorite and was gifted his horse in 1854. This was later followed by a gift of money, and a family name which at that time would only normally be reserved for nobles and those of wealth. Then, in his 25th year, Santaro married in the spring to a young maiden called Tori introduced by the Daimyo lord.

When Osayo heard of his marriage, her only hope died with her. She threw herself into the Shishi-ga-hana and the iron sand that silts the basin of the Satetsu River is considered to be the dark skin that she tried to wash from her. From time to time, in the dusk light hours, a small bird called the Varied Tit is believed to be the reincarnation of Osayo. An embodiment of her love is also captured in "The One Cherry Tree of Osayo".

*This story is from the book called "The legend of Iwate(「岩手の伝説」)" by Hirano Tadashi(平野 直). I roughly translated the story.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tategamori Ark Farm


Set in the heartland of Fujisawa, Ichinoseki, in North East Japan is a vast area of 100 hectares laced with lush green hedges, carefully pruned bushes, lavender and sweet smelling herbs.  Tategamori Ark Farm is not only a topiary wonder but as the name suggests it is also home to many animals such as red deer , sheep, pigs, ponies and rabbits. It is also graced by the elegant white peacock and many varieties of domesticated fowl.

The farm also has its own shop, restaurant and barbecue house that provides home reared pork, home made bread, tofu and many other culinary delights.

About the Pork: The pigs of the Tategamori highlands eat several kinds of herbs and tapioca which gives the pork its distinctive richness and chewy texture. They are reared in healthy and natural surroundings and are certified as a Babcock Pork.

The home reared pork provides excellent ham and sausages. The unique taste of the sausages are further enhanced by a technique adopted from Germany which involves integrating spices. This   extends the quality of the meat to a top drawer taste that is a favourite of the nation. Other than the added spices, the meat is sold with either very little or no additives.

Open days are on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday between the hours of 11:00 to 14:00.

Main Event : The "Ton-ton Derby" is held at the Ark Farm in May and October every year. Participants lead a baby pig and run together to the goal.

Around the farm, there are also the Iwate Safari Park and the Tategamori Kogen Hotel.