Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tohoku Culture Paper 5: Oyu and Kosaka

 After visiting many locations this semester such as Hiraizumi, Denwa-Sanzan, Yokote, and Sakata-Kuromori, we have finally arrived at our last two locations for JAS 435 Exploring Tohoku Culture: Oyu and Kosaka. Oyu is an area that is famous for the Oyu Stone Circles from the Jōmon Period while Kosaka is famous for its Kosaka mines and the oldest Kabuki theatre in Japan known as the Korakukan Theatre. 
 The first location Oyu is known for the large Oyu Stones that come out of the ground which are remains from the Jōmon period. The Jōmon period is known for its hand-made pottery, food gathering, and pit-houses. The Jōmon period is divided into seven different periods: incipent Jōmon, initial Jōmon, early Jōmon, middle Jōmon, late Jōmon, and final Jōmon. During this time period, new technology was introduced such as rice farming and metallurgy. In addition, Shinto religion, marriage customs, and new architectural styles were also introduced.
 When I went with my class, I was unable to see the stones because we went during the winter so the snows were covered by the snow. The significance of these stones is unknown, but archeologist suspect that the stones may have been used for religious practices. Nearby the Oyu Stones there is also the Jōmon museum. This museum has miniature models of the Jōmon statues, Jōmon pottery, and other Jōmon artifacts.

A Miniature model of the Oyu Stone Circle

Model of Jōmon Pit House
 After exploring Oyu, we went to Kosaka. According to the website Japan Tourist, Kosaka was once a quiet town before it became a mine. After the discovery of Copper, Silver, and Gold, the town changed and the town’s popularity was booming until the mines were depleted. At Kosaka we visited the Kosaka mining office and the Korakukan Theatre. The Kosaka museum was built during the Meiji Era (1868-1912). This museum contains several models of the towns’ buildings and several manikins that represents the clothing of the 19th century. Some of the walls within the Kosaka museum are designed to have the appearance of a mine. In addition, at Kosaka there are several rooms that are designed to resemble a train cart. These rooms contain windows that look like train windows. In addition, a sound is played in the room that makes it sound like a train is coming.

Gold Models inside of Kosaka Museum
Leaving the Kosaka Museum with my class
  At the Korakukan Theatre, many Kabuki plays are held. When I went there for my class, there were no Kabuki plays at that time. Instead we got to explore the theater. Below is a picture from underneath the stage. From underneath the stage, technicians may turn the stage around during a performance. In addition, somewhere beneath the stage, there is also a trapdoor that can be used to introduce demons or other monsters during a performance. Backstage of the Kabuki Theatre there is a room that contains signatures from famous Kabuki actors.

Underneath the Kabuki stage

Wigs for Kabuki actors
"Oyu Stone Circles." Japan Tourist. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
"Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History." Jomon Culture (ca. 10,500Âca. 300 B.C.). N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.
"Kosaka Mining Office." Japan Tourist. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.