From: Peter Rivard
Date: Mon Oct 28, 2002 11:40:58 PM Japan
Subject: sad news
I wrote a little while ago, "On the way to the restaurant, I'd stopped at a small isolated village halfway up to rest--some sort of festival was winding down, and the village shrine had a lot of paper and stone lanterns lit by candles." It turns out this was the very last festival of this shrine that had been in that place for at least 600 years and quite possibly more than a thousand. This was on a Saturday. On Monday, workers cut down all the 600+ year old trees on one side of the temple, and by the end of the week the whole area around the temple and half the hillside above it was cleared. They're putting in a dam that will flood the whole village. The temple is still there; I think they're going to move the building. I know the families won't be moved out for another year or two, so I was surprised to see the temple going so soon. Truly depressing--this has nothing to do with any need for a dam; it's just a temporary fix to prop the local construction and concrete and tree-cutting companies, nothing but greed and poor fiscal planning for a benefit that won't last more than four years even for those few who are benefitting, and so much lost that can never be recovered.
p.s.--After I wrote this, I asked Misa, a student who lives in the village, how old the temple really is. She had to ask a few people around the village to find out, but she came back a few days later and told me that it's about a thousand years old. I've started a project to photograph the village, for my own memory if not for posterity, and I'll post pictures as I can.
As an aside, 13 of the 26 households in this village share Misa's family name, but she doesn't think they're related (I'm reasonably sure she's wrong).