K.T. (born 1931) ♂ Irizawai
Sawai and Irizawai may
appear to be one community on the
but in reality they are two separate hamlets. In
a landowner named Miyashita held most of the power,
Irizawai was independent of him. One can best see the
by looking at the temples. In Sawai the main
was Kōrinji. Actually, it was originally located
but as the result of a disagreement between
Miyashita moved the temple to Sawai. When this
the people of Irizawai decided not to have anything more to do with
temple. In other words, they asserted their
This happened around 300 years ago. The fact
the people of Irizawai were independent farmers and not
can be seen from the posthumous names on graves.
of the names end with zenjōmon.
This is not the sort
name given to a lowly tenant farmer's family, who would
receive the name zenji or zennyo - the lowest
The next rank is shamon
followed by zenjōmon,
anshu, shinji and koji.
By the proliferation
of the title zenjomon we can see
the people were independent farmers. People here also
larger land holdings - around 1 cho for each household.
there have been around 17 houses in Irizawai.
was the situation during the Meiji period - my father
born in 1889. This had dropped to 15 by 1940, but with
end of the war the number rose to 18 - soldiers returned
forests were cut and new land put into cultivation.
after the 1961 disaster the population suddenly
During my generation,
many old place names have been
When land goes out of use people soon forget the
names. So, now Higashiyama ('east mountain') refers to
large area which was formerly divided into many
It's the same with Kuribora ('chestnut cave').
area around Oike is now all known as Jokiri ('upper
The area formerly called Hebigasa ('snake hat'),
is a name I would like to keep, has been lumped into
This area included fields for summer cultivation
(irisaku). People lived here during
the summer - not in
but in fairly good houses, some of which had stone
Later, when the land became hay meadows for horses
cows, people spent less time there, and didn't maintain
houses. When the houses collapsed, they built small
- but still there was a well and a toilet and flowers
in the gardens - irises, chrysanthemums, which they
enjoy when they came haymaking in summer and early
The area was farmed mostly by Irizawai folk,
Sawai people did sometimes rent the land for use.
land for summer cultivation was above Funagata. The old
(horses used it, so it was at least one metre
followed the present road to the innermost part of
After that on can still see parts of it in the forest
Funagata was first cultivated before the
originally as rice paddy, but later planted
mulberry trees. The leaves were carried down to the
for the silkworms. Other crops such as spring
buckwheat and millet were grown.
The oldest rice paddy
in the Funagata area was
after the great Tenmei famine in the late 18th century. It was
tiny (30 tsubo), but in the first year they harvested around 1 hyō
What a surprise to be able to grow rice at such a high altitude!
It's probably the
rice paddy in Japan! So, after that success, they began constructing
in earnest - removing the stones and rocks from the earth,
the fields, building ridges between the fields.
When I was young I
remember that we used to have an old
shaped wooden wheelbarrow. My grandfather told
that it had been used to cart earth and stones when the
paddies were being made. This saved labour
to the former method, in which two people carried the earth in a straw
suspended from poles. My ancestors also
a latticed bamboo frame for separating stones from
This frame was stood up vertically and soil and
shovelled down from the top. We had the blacksmith
a big shovel (jūnō) for the job. The
through, while the stones slid down the bamboo slats.
stones were used to fill in the gaps between the rocks
the stone walls. This is another example of a way people
using their ingenuity to make devices for specific
The latticed frame was bound with wisteria vines -
removed the bark, the vines would be moderately
soaked in the river and the draff removed. Then
would be twined into cord.
The paddies at
Funagata were completed by the year
The last paddy to be constructed in this area was
- and that belonged
to the Shimodaira family. There were also
at Doronta, fed by water from Iriyamazawa. Their
was nearly 7 tan in area, and they were lower in altitude, so
the rice yields were good. But now those fields have been
with trees for timber.
If you live in
Irizawai you can eat rice, people used
say. Irizawai was one of the first mountain hamlets in
to grow rice. At that time rice was only usually
on special occasions - celebrations, festivals, New
and so on.
When people saw that
rice could be grown in Irizawai,
followed suit. That's how the paddies on Minayama were
developed. The area was geographically blessed and
good rice. Next was Nakamine - but to get water
their paddies the inhabitants had to dig a 4,800 meters
channel to Iriyamazawa. They needed water for a wide
of paddy fields - around 3 chō.
The pipe, which was
made of pottery, is not in used
There were always problems with leakage. At the
of the season it took a week for the water to get
the stream to the fields. Leaks would be plugged using
clay. In comparison, Irizawai paddies got their water
3 hours. However, although Nakamine folks had difficulty
their fields, the fact that there was lots of sunshine meant that the
was abundant and tasty. The fields were lower, and by
time that the water did get to them it was warm. In
the best yield that we could hope for was 3 hyō
1 tan. Cultivation was
difficult and always uncertain.
So, in addition to the rice,
there were fields near the hamlet where wheat, soy beans and
were grown. In Funagata, apart from rice, the other main
Most of the fields we
owned were around this house or
Funagata. Including the paddies, we were probably
around 20 chō. This was quite a
big area, but
fields were steep, so you couldn't farm very
After a while Funagata was planted with
trees, and millet and buckwheat in the spaces
We also practised
slash-and-burn methods of cultivation
the mountains - mainly in Higashiyama. We rarely
as far as Iriyama. This used to be state forest
(kokuyūrin), but now it belongs to the
Hay was gathered at
various places - from both private
and communal land - for example Higashiyama and the
slopes of Sasayama. Folk from Nakamine, Nashiwara,
and Sawai all came to get hay for their
the grasslands going
from Oike. People would also do slash-and-burn
charcoal-burning there. It was a well-used
People would often be involved in more than one
- for example, after harvesting the grass for hay
cutting the trees for charcoal they would cultivate
on the land. On the opening day of the hay-cutting
(yama-no-kuchiake), people would be up early, so
to be first to the best places. The
timber for making charcoal came from village land.
The charcoal-burning season was December to March. We
how much timber we needed beforehand and upon payment
a certain fee receive cutting rights from the village.
We produced charcoal
until around 1958. During the
period, lots of new technologies were introduced, so
changed. For example, the introduction of the
and aerial lines for transporting timber were big
changes. However, the widespread use of gas cookers
end for charcoal. The demand for it naturally died out.
this house we started using gas for cooking from around
- before that we cooked on a wood stove or open
fire (irori). We had gas before
some folks in the
It's strange logic, but you often find that people
in the remotest places are among the first attracted
There used to be a
road going through the state forest
the mountains into Hase to Koseto on the Mibu river.
Koseto there was a hut, which forestry officials
used. You should remember that these mountains
originally under the direct control of the Tokugawa
(tenryō). From Meiji they
became Imperial land
(goryōrin ), then state (kokuyūrin) and lastly village
(sonyūrin). The change from state
to village ownership was
in order to bring the lands together. This
The formerly separated state forests were
en masse and are now located at Kamasawa, Aoki and
In my memory the only
people who used the track between
and Koseto were forestry officials. In earlier
it would have been in general use by foresters and
(yamashi, kijishi). But, I do
remember as a child
the mountain in order to go fishing for iwana
Mibu river at a pool called Mikobuchi. It took about
hours from this house. But, as far as I remember there
little contact between Oshika and Hase villagers.
As for the track known
as Koshu Kaido that crossed the
near the Sanpuku Pass, it was a long road! It
two nights to the old Ikawa-mura.
People in Irizawai were able to satisfy most
within Kashio. Occasionally we went to Okawara - for
buy sake at Umanojo. Going further afield, we
contact with Kami-Ina, via the Bungui Pass to Takato and
The old road to the Bungui Pass no longer exists.
of the roads went over Kurokawa Pass and on to Onnataka.
from Kamasawa also travelled to Irizawai over Koshiji
Iriyama Koshiji. The road over Iriyama was widened for
logs using wooden sledges known as kinma. It went on to
and crossed what's now the Kitagawa Pasture
the way to the Bungui Pass. This upper road
was used by forest
and also ninja secretly transmitting information
battles. The Oshika-Hase area was inhabited by the
of Prince Munenaga, so his men would have used these
There was less contact
with Iida than Kami-Ina. The
to Iida went up Hojozaka. There was a road on the
bank from Shinano Kenzai. It was the site of a hamlet
by Hojo supporters fleeing after defeat by the
clan in the first half of the 14th century.
whole area including Okeya was badly
in the flood of 1943. The Okeya paddy fields were
I remember going there the year after (when I was
my first year at middle school). We had to lead army
from one of the highland pastures down through the
At Okeya the road had been completely destroyed by
flood water. It was frightening. The road up Hojozaka
the present road at the Ikuta Pass.
The road from Irizawai
to Okawara crossed Minayama.
would use that road to buy sake from Maeshima.
transported from here to Kami-Ina by
Also, special food for weddings, funerals and such
came from Kami-Ina. There was a wholesaler at
which is now a shop called Yorozuya. For a
the food would be ordered and delivered, but for a
we just had to go and get what was in stock.
Of course, there was
far less contact between Kashio
Okawara than there is now. The schools were separate.
main contact would be to buy things that weren't sold
and to visit relatives. But I wasn't aware of any
differences between Kashio and Okawara
although there were big differences between people
Oshika and somewhere like Matsukawa. Most Kashio people
relatives in Okawara. I had a relatives in Kamasawa,
and Nakao. In Kamasawa, this family was related to
the Funazawa, Kamijima and Uchikura families. The
time I can remember visiting Kamasawa for a family
was to go to a funeral at the Kamijima house
Goshodaira. I think that the man who lived
was called Yuzuru.
The main landowners in
Okawara were Maeshima,
of Wazo, Matsushita-ke and Takegami of Aoki. In
the biggest landowner was Oshima-san. Then there was
of Kitairi. In this area the biggest landowners
Nashiwara-san and Miyashita-san - Miyashita Michio of
The Miyashitas don't live here anymore. Miyashita
Kennosuke, the son, works as a doctor in
Tokyo. His mother
alone, but died two years ago. He owned lots of
land, but sold it off to buyers from Hokkaido and
An outrageous thing to do. Most of the mountain
across the Shiokawa river belonged to the Miyashita
There were some magnificent pine forests, but at
end of the war they were
the land to the state for
as farming land.
As I said,
Nashiwara-san is the biggest landowner in
hamlet of Nashiwara, and in Nakamine there is Okubo-san.
was at important house in Nakamine, but lost
as a result of internal troubles. The honke
is Furushima Chihiro, which is the big house next
to his present house. Furushima Kanji's is the branch
Kashio people tend to
have strong family ties -
such as Suganuma, Matsuzawa, Kojima and Katagiri.
quite recently they made decisions as family units.
Nakamine, the Katagiri family still holds a family
The Kojimas did too until recently - Kojima
Here in Irizawai, each
household functions as an
unit. The oldest households (in Irizawai and
are Shimizu, Fujisawa and the lower Kinoshita. This
is a relatively new one. But it's not directly
to the Kinoshitas of Sawai or Nashiwara, although
family crest is the same.
Miyashita Kikō is a
branch house of the Miyashita
of Sawai. Shimodaira is a branch house of the
family. Another Miyashita branch family was
But, he moved to Suwa in 1941 and died there.
Although most of the
people in Irizawai were landed
there were a few tenant farmers, though they were
different from what we normally think of as
At around the time of
the Meiji Restoration the
houses gained great areas of land - particularly
land. This was because officials registering the
of land accepted bribes from powerful families in
to areas where ownership was vague or disputed. This
happened more in Okawara. In Kashio there were not
many cases. But there was a big dispute (sanron) between
and the government, when lands which the farmers had
using passed into state ownership (kanyūchi).
brought to court in Matsumoto and lasted for ten years.
the two sides came to an agreement, and although
villagers lost, the settlement provided for a fairly
area of private land (minyūchi).
Detailed maps showing
land ownership seem to have been
up in the late 19th century. My grandfather was born
1889 and his elder brother, my great uncle, said that
he was 13 he held the rope for government surveyors
up official maps of the village. Those maps are at
kept in the village office.
Around this hamlet
there are 7 commemorative batō-kannon stones
dating back to 1832-34. It was a time when
horse diseases were prevalent and
horses died. This type of stone was erected as an offering
soul of a horse and as an invocation for the
of disease. A number - at least five of them
- on a curve by the side of the road just past
at Umadome in Iriyama on the way to Oban-iwaya, at
above here, and above Okubo-san's house. There
one below Oike, but that was knocked out of place by a
when they were levelling the ground. I have heard
there is another in Nakamine, but I haven't seen it.
places where these stones stand all have some sort of
- for example, Umadome (horses could be taken
further after that point because the mountain becomes too
or at Funagata, the place where horses were treated
The path across the
mountains to Koseto still exists.
would like the village to maintain these old roads. There
also Iriyama - the last time we cut the undergrowth there
seven years ago. I took a group of hikers from Iida
last year and the bamboo grass made it well near
to get to the top. So I'd like to make the area
Oike more accessible - the scenery is beautiful
and there is also great historical significance.