TsukuBlog

A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Come On Out To Hojo (北条), My New Neighborhood at The Foot of Mt Tsukuba for this Weekends Events

A unique feature of the Hojo Summer Matsuri ( held at the end of July)- a tent-like structure ( in which musicians sit) fronted by a Shishi mask

After having long lived in (and written about) the village of Konda in Tsukuba City, I sadly had to face the fact that I just could not live in the same badly cracked ( and sinking!) old house anymore. Having spent so many years familiarizing myself with that areas nature and history, it was not emotionally easy to LET GO of all the memories ( and the house itself, with its amazing view of Mt Tsukuba) and move on.

Fortunately ( or I could even say MIRACULOUSLY)  with the help of some good people, I was able to find a new place to call home- which is quite AMAZING, in an area which is even more so! I have only been there for a little over a week, but I have really been loving it! And as a source of material for Tsukublog posts, there could not be much more fertile soil than right here at the foot of Mt Tsukuba- all the traditional events, shrines,temples, sacred stones, and abundant flora and fauna.

I now live here- right in the heart of Hojo ( note the large house in the background- where the descendants of the old ruling clan live!)

The interior of the house, with its old wooden components

The house I now live in is  composed of posts and pillars which were made to build an old farmhouse 150 years ago, but  with all the modern comforts ( well, almost all). From an aesthetic point of view, it is a TEN, but even more exciting for me is the neighborhood in which it is located- HOJO (北条), a traditional ( and very conservative!) old town which reeks of history, and could in fact be said to be the TRUE Tsukuba. This is because this area WAS actually called Tsukuba Town (筑波町), while most of the other important parts of today`s Tsukuba were in fact called other names- Yatabe Town, Oho Town, Toyosato, Sakura Village, etc.

The URABORI (裏堀), an old irrigation canal ( or defensive moat) which runs down my street

The URABORI (裏堀), an old irrigation canal ( or defensive moat) which runs down my street

Moving in at the end of July, when the big local summer festival is held, proved to be perfect timing for an introduction to Hojo life. It was a convenient way of quickly getting to know all the neighbors and getting to see just about all the residents of the town in their most open and excited state of mind. 

I have also quickly found that there were many strange coincidences involved with moving to this particular place which made feel a special affinity with my new abode. The most striking was the large pile of ZAKUMATA sticks just down the road. These rustic offerings to the spirits of deceased dogs were what long ago first got me interested in this areas local culture, and I was moved to find just about the biggest assemblage of them that I have ever seen just a couple of hundred meters from where I live.

Lots of ZAKUMATA! Y-shaped sticks which are offered to the spirits of DOGS as prayers for easy pregnancies and deliveries

Another interesting local custom- stick figure Jizo Boddhisatvas at the entranceways to graveyards

Well, you have already missed that event ( if you were not there), but thos weekend, there will be two other events ( though on a much smaller scale), which our new neighbors have been enthusiastically inviting us to- the night market ( YO ICHI), which will be held on Saturday August 6th from 4-6pm, and the Memorial Service for TAKI TARO ( the Taki Taro Mando-E, 多気太郎万灯会), a beloved local ruler of past ages whose grave is located not far from my place, which will be on Sunday August 7th in the evening ( bring your own fireworks, we have been told!). 

The Iwasaki-Ya Shop on the night of the Yo-Ichi ( Aug. 6th) selling Hojo-Mai Ice Cream

Kids enjoyed playing with sparklers at the Taki Taro Mando-e event in Hojo

This evenings market should feature plenty of local products, plus some entertainment. Dont come expecting too much, but no matter what, a stroll through this old town will surely prove worthwhile to anyone interested in Japan.

The grave of TAKI TARO-, a local ruler, on whose memorial day, August 7th a special ceremony will be held

A local woman paying her respects at the grave of former local ruler Taki Taro on Aug. 7th 2011

Hope to see  you in our new neighborhood. Dont forget to drop by and say hello!

Jo-Yama ( Castle Mountain) upon which once sat the fortification Taki-Jo. ( My new place is the gray roof right in the center)

Paddy fields in front of the house in which farmers grow the famous rice variety Hojo-Mai

 

For more on ZAKUMATA, read my article:

http://blog.alientimes.org/2010/03/zakumata-y-shaped-sticks-placed-at-cross-roads-are-a-unique-way-of-praying-for-easy-delivery/



3 Comments

  • Meirav says:

    Congratulation!!! enjoy the new location, hopefully this wont sink :)

  • Tomoko Seto says:

    Hello Avi sennsei.
    I’m glad to read your news.
    The new house and locate is very nice.
    I think it is good for your children to live a country.
    Nature fosters children to rich sense.
    Through a lot of experience, they learn many things.
    I hope you and your family live in happiness at Hojyo .

  • ginny says:

    I’m so glad you found such a wonderful place to live! We can’t wait to visit you there very very soon :)