Monday, May 28, 2012

Driving to the Village Clothed in Verdure

Totsukawa is a village located in Yoshino, southernmost part of Nara. It is the largest village in Japan in terms of land area, which consists of forest (96% of the area) and water.
Driving down passing through mountains and mountains covered with fresh green and along the river all the way for less than three hours, my husband and I reached the bridge, one of Japan’s longest suspension bridges for pedestrians.

It was built in 1954, which was 54 m high and 297m long. Local residents in the village donated 200,000300,000 yen per family to build the bridge for their daily use. It must’ve been quite a sum in those days. They use it daily but it also has become one of visitors attractions there.

The warning sign says that we should follow the restriction;“20 persons at most at one time”
Pieces of wooden planks are fixed on the meshed iron wires. In the middle of the bridge it is quite shaky so I hear some couldn't make it to the other end of it. I didn’t feel scared, maybe because I’m used to walking a tightrope !
However, I was surprised to hear some local people cross it by bike.

                           Totsukawa or Kumano River under the bridge

                                    karasuageha or chinese peacock

                                                 Totsukawa village 

Then we extended our driving to Tamaki Shrine.
It has stood for 1300 years at an altitude of 1000 meters in the mountains surrounded with big cedar trees, one of which is estimated to be 3000 years old. The legendary first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, is said to have stopped here and prayed for victory, on his way to eastward expedition (神武東征). He was  led by a legendary crow named Yatagarasu (八咫烏).The whole area was wrapped with solemn and deep stillness when I visited there.

                                 mountains seen from Mt. Tamaki (1076m)

Here is Youtube about Tamaki Shrine, narrated by Naomi Kawase, who is a film director, the youngest winner of the best new director at 1997 Canne Films Festival for her first 35 mm film. Her film making mostly has been based on rural region of Nara.
She says a prayer is not a request for something in return. When you feel the aura that flows in and is generated by the natural world, your prayer may come naturally to your heart.


  1. I like this area except passing the long suspension didn't feel scared? Wow, you have bave heart. One of my friends' family name is Tamaki, and she came from aroud the shrine. I've heard that many Tamaki families live there.
    Thank you for shairng your drinving through greenery root.

  2. They cross that bridge by bike?! o_0

    That photo of the mountains that disappear in the distance is so beautiful. When I think of symbols of Japan, I always think of mountains fading into the sky ...

    PS: I looked at the video. The trees are absolutely magnificent.

  3. Thank you, haricot.
    That's interesting to know there are many Tamakis there. Maybe there are many other examples about names closely related to the history a certain area was involved in and the names were passed on. Don't worry about typos.
    I also make a lot of typos; I wrote 20000 but actually it was 200000 yen!

    I hear in summer, there is a drum (和太鼓)performance on the bridge as a part of summer festival event. The bridge must be more swaying according to the movements of drummers. The sight and a roll of drums must arouse the visitors to enthusiasm. Thank you for your lovely comments, Rurousha.

  4. The more I see and read about Nara prefecture, the more I believe it truly is an special place in Japan! The nature in this village is simply spectacular and I imagine a visit there can't be other than overwhelming. For me, only seeing the pictures is like that! And mountains, anywhere they are, still remain my "great love".

    I love the spider-web appearance of the suspended bridge and the turquoise shade of Kumano River. And I liked that villagers donated the money for their common good, even though as you said it must have been a serious effort for those times.
    When you said you are used to walking a tightrope, did you mean that literally?! Anyway, no matter if literally or only metaphorically speaking, I admire you for crossing the bridge without hesitation. I think you have a good inner balance!

    Thank you for the link on YouTube. I enjoyed seeing the landscapes and though I couldn't understand the narration it was a pleasure to listen to the tone of the woman's voice. Like a never ending story in a land of legends and mystery...

  5. Wow - what amazing views from that slightly scary bridge!

  6. What a beautiful place--like a fairy tale. I would never be able to walk across that bridge though!


  7. Sorry, I’m just joking about tightrope, Roxana. I am poor at sports but somehow I have liked to go up to high places since my childhood except sky scrapers in the city. I feel relaxed and at home surrounded with trees, forests, rivers, lots of nature but I know I can’t give up the convenience of living in the city. I like where I live now; neither in countryside nor in the big city.
    Your comment itself is a good reading for me. I love the way you write and the way you think. Thank you for seeing the video.
    I can’t say I appreciate her movies but she seems to have a way about her.

    Thank you Jen, Ladyfi, for coming. It’s a great pleasure to have comments from you.

  8. 十津川に掛かる吊り橋を渡るのは私には無理かもしれません。足がすくんで眩暈がしそうです。(@Д@; 私達も一度熊野古道を通り霊山に祀られる神社を訪れてみたいです。願いの先に祈りがあるのでしょうか?その時、純粋な想いでありたいです。

  9. Anzu

  10. Totsukawa village, the village of water and forest, is one of the places that reminds me that Japan is a super mountainous country that 70 percent of Japanese land is mountains. The butterfly just taking off for the next destination is symbolical and I feel eternal time in the layers of ridgelines of mountains and gradation of green fading into the distance.

  11. 十津川は奈良の最南なんですね。奈良テレビの天気予報で、必ず気温が発表されてるのでどんな所かなと思っていました。吊り橋の事は聞いた事があります。一度訪れてみたいです。

  12. Hello Cosmos!
    Thanks for the film link,I've watched it twice.Beautifully atmospheric,lovely soothing,ethereal music,I loved it! The suspension bridge is quite a spectacle,I imagine that people with vertigo may find crossing uncomfortable.I've crossed smaller versions in Scotland,constructed of wire and planks......a scary experience when the river is in spate(flood).
    Beautiful final photo!

    Enjoy your week,

  13. This is a very fresh and beautiful place! And that brigde.. woho!! Would like to try, but it looks scary too, hehe
    Wish we had some of this very big butterflies here

    Hope you have a blessed week ahead.
    Forgive me for being a lazy blogger these days

    Hugs from Tania

  14. The bridge has a magnificent design, but I'm wondering if anyone tries to cross the river itself when it is shallow as in your picture? I would be tempted to do so and look for pretty stones or artifacts. I'm not particularly fond of heights. Maybe that's why I feel so comfortable in Florida, close to sea level. Nevertheless, your photos and words are always uplifting to me.

  15. Many thanks for this interesting post, cosomos!! I saw the video about the Tamaki Shrine and found it really great! Your beautiful photos made me want to visit Totsukawa and the shrine at least onece in a lifetime!

    Kumano reminds me of Minakata Kumagusu who contributed greatly to the conservation of natural environment there. I'm a big fan of him and respect him a lot.
    How lucky you were to come across the Karasuageha butterfly!! She is so beautiful!!


  16. Thank you, friends, for stopping by and taking the time to comments.
    More than 120 years ago, Totsukawa river was flooded by the heavy rain and caused extensive damage to the village. Some had to move to northern end of Japan ( Hokkaidō) to look for a new start and settled there.
    There used to be houses and farming field along the riverside but now you can see camping facilities on the riverbed when it is dry.
    Under this suspension bridge, there is a camping site for automobiles.

    Most of the trees here were planted after WW lI and forestry business once flourished but due to the depreciation of the price of the trees in recent years, very few young people would like to continue the forestry. As a result , many forests are not well taken care of and deteriorating. There is a growing concern about the quality of forests as the center of ecosystem here as well.

    Thank you, sapphire, for mentioning Minakata Kumagusu (1864-1941)
    Thanks to his anti-shrine- consolidation protest, eventually the ancient pilgrimage route Kumano- Kodō or a couple of forests where there were historical, spiritual, environmental and ecological significances were saved.

  17. この吊り橋をバイクで渡る!!高所恐怖症の私は考えただけでクラッときますよ。

  18. Passei para uma visitinha
    e para admirar suas fotografias.
    Beijinhos do Brasil.

  19. Thank you, snowwhite and Magia, for visiting.

  20. 新緑は、遠くのものも近くに引き寄せて見せてくれるような気がします。

  21. I am sorry that I missed this post when it was published, but I have found it now that I was looking over my blog list. I realised I hadn't seen any posts from you for a while.

    It is a very interesting post. I am intrigued by the bridge. I'd love to walk across it even though I would be scared. It must be a wonderful experience to be high and not too secure above that enormous chasm.

    And, please tell us about your experiences of walking a tightrope! :D

  22. °`♥✿✿⊱╮
    Boa semana!

  23. Thank you, Ruma, Jenny, and Magia again.

    There used to be log bridges over the river but they were often washed away by the flood. So villagers decided to make a suspension bridge with each household contributing quite a big sum in those days. Now when the bridge is not able to use for the elements or some other reason, there is a bus service takes a detour.

  24. so interesting!! that bridge..oh my gosh..scary just looking at it!

  25. Cosmos,thanks for your lovely comment on my blog.
    I'm trying not to think of the weather,we are having alternate days of sun and rain and it's much colder than usual for June.The plants however seem to be coping well,perhaps they just carry on with their cycle regardless!I hope the Japanese storms cause as little damage as possible.
    Happy weekend!

  26. Hello, cosmos.

      Sense and expression.
      Aesthetically your work has been held by both.

      The prayer for all peace.
      I wish You all the best.
    Have a good weekend. ruma ❃

  27. Really an amazing view....

  28. Hi,Cosmos.
    Enjoy your weekend.

  29. Thank you for sharing and spread these amazing images of japan!
    Best Regars from Italy!


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