March 30, 2019 Sat
The famous ‘Golden Temple’ (Kinkakuji) in Kyoto
Look at an old map of Yosano, and you will find that ‘Yosano’ doesn’t exist; the modern town of Yosano was in fact formed from a merger of the towns of Kaya, Nodagawa and Iwataki in 2006. Similarly, old maps of Japan feature the Tango region (of which Yosano forms a part) as entirely separate from Kyoto city in the south. In the past, Japan was effectively a collection of mini-states, each with its own borders and laws. However, upon the rise of the Meiji government in 1868, the country was unified and re-organised into administrative districts. The Tango region was absorbed into Kyoto prefecture, and has remained so ever since. Nevertheless, the region is somewhat distinct both culturally and geographically from the metropolis in the south. Before the arrival of the Kyoto-Tango highway a few years ago, it was difficult to cross the large mountains running down the spine of Japan, meaning that Tango was somewhat cut off from Japan’s industrial heartland running along the Pacific Ocean. Tango’s climate is also highly influenced by its proximity to the Sea of Japan; in winter especially, cold winds from the north pick up moisture, which falls upon the region in the form of vast amounts of snow, and keep skies cloudy; cross the mountains and the skies are usually bright blue. Even the region’s dialect is different, resembling that of Nagoya rather than the Kansai dialect of the Kyoto-Osaka area. (Children increasingly use the more fashionable ‘Kansai-ben’, much to the consternation of locals.) Though more easily accessible these days, the Tango region retains a remote and traditional feel. Recent tourism campaigns have heavily promoted the ‘Kyoto by the Sea’ region, but its charms remain largely undiscovered and unspoilt – not trapped in time, but rather existing in a different time-frame altogether.