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Weekend tour to Sanriku, Fish Farm in Minami Sanriku

We have been offering the Let’s Talk Tours (Weekend tour in the affected area) since 2012. Starting last year we have expanded our scope to include areas we have not visited before. I chose Minami Sanriku-cho for this tour

Tour Overview

  • Date: August 5~6, 2017
  • Place: Start /end at Kurikoma Kogen Station, Tohoku Shinkansen
  • Number of Participants: 3, Each covered own cost
  • Hotel: Matsukasa Yashiki guesthouse at Hikoro No Sato (Minami Sanriku-cho)

Minami Sanriku-cho SunSun Shopping Village

I’ve been meaning to visit the SunSun Shopping Village after it relocated to its permanent site. The land had been leveled giving them more space but the village’s unwavering concept is alive and well. Their famous “Kira Kira Don” (A dish featuring seasonal local seafood in a bowl) has evolved as well as different ways of enjoying various local foods on an open terrace. We arrived at little after 11:00am and went straight for lunch. Food being offered by various restaurants all looked delicious. After serious contemplation, we picked “Benkei Sushi” and ordered Kira Kira Don, Kaisenn Don (Seafood bowl), Nigiri Sushi, and raw oysters. They were gorgeous and delicious.

Although we were full, we sat on the open terrace and enjoyed fried octopus, dried seaweed, fresh tomato we purchased at the market while drinking Sake. Thank you to our designated driver!

The disaster management municipal building, situated on the leveled land, can now only be partially seen. The scenery here has changed a lot from one year ago. We decided to take a stroll from the leveled land to the harbor. As we walked, we realized the scale of how high and wide this area was.

 

Satoumi Farm

Satoumi Farm was hosting the moco moco festival. There were also many people at the beach on kayaks. We watched these while enjoying the refreshing ocean breeze. Their sheep was also active. Among them there are two sheep, named Kome and Miso, owned by Kesennuma Knitting. They have a plan to produce knitted items with their fleece. I remembered the plan from the time I was here last year and was happy to find out they were making progress.

We made paperweights using the same process used for felt production. We first chose a stone to which we twined colorful fleece. After that we applied soap water to the fleeced stone and rubbed it hard.   With this process, fleece around the stone shrinks and tightens. Every paperweight was unique looking.

Hikoro No Sato

Our designated lodging was a Minpaku (Private Home Lodging), which was spearheaded by Minami Sanriku-cho. Matukasa Yashiki (Matsukasa Mansion) at Hikoro is a large house built over 200 years ago and now designated as a cultural treasure. Situated in the mountain area of Minami Sanriku-cho, the area prospered for its sericultural industry under Date feudal clan.

The house has a large home shrine typical of Sanriku coastal area. I have heard the large size of the shrine shows how profound their wish is to keep their family and boats safe. The paper cutouts with beautiful and intricate designs are typical in Minami Sanriku-cho area.

We stayed over at the guesthouse of Matukasa Yashiki. It was built for the family’s newly wed and is newer in construction. The guesthouse is normally used as a stay–in training facility by people from Japan and from outside of Japan. The house felt like a grandma’s house and it was very quiet except for the chirping of insects. A cheerful local lady who took care of us was very laid back and we were able to relax because of her. Carefully prepared dishes for dinner included local seafood and items from the mountain. We stuffed ourselves with these delicious meal and we could hardly move afterwards.

Fishing Experience

We visited Abe-san’s (a.k.a. Tamiko-san’s) in Tokura district to experience fish farming. We visited the farm on July 9th last year and this year on August 6th. The silver salmon season was over, oysters were going into spawning season, and outer flesh of sea squirt has hardened in preparation for spawning. We saw changes in creatures up close.

We pulled up the casts, which were set for us. As we were forewarned, they were mostly empty but one cast captured an octopus. We were given a chance to observe this creature, which Minami Sanriku-cho is famous for.

While we were fishing, I received a call from Ms. H. She invited us to stop by to pick up some of our favorite dishes she made. So we spent a little time with her over some tea. We bid her farewell after acknowledging our good health. We left Minami Sanriku-cho and headed for the bullet train station. En route, we came across Hasu Maturi (Lotus Festival) in Izunuma. I must say the trip was fun and successful.

Most people in Minami Sanriku-cho we spoke with said that the biggest change in the area and their lives was the super market. When they said, “we finally have a supermarket in the area and we no longer have to drive 40 minutes to get our groceries”, it was the moment of realization that they are still recovering. Although it has been over 6 years since the disaster, I renewed my resolution to keep visiting the area and to continue dialogue about issues. I want to be like their distant relative. I would love for you to join us next time. For information, please feel free to contact us.

(Hiroko)

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