Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hida Folk Village: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

This sign was posted on the fourth floor of the gassho house that we've been looking at. I recommend clicking on it to enlarge it; it's worth the read. This house was apparently the first one brought to begin Hida Folk Village.

Something that this sign brought home to me is how rapidly life in Japan has changed in just the past generation. It seems to point to 1960 as a date when the traditional lifestyle began to give way to the modern - a traditional lifestyle that included homes like the ones we're touring, with no heat, of course no insulation, and often packed-earth floors. One thing that's puzzled me ever since we got here is how such an advanced country with such temperature extremes can consider insulation a luxury. Our home here is insulated, but it's a rare exception and a much more upscale place than we'd have at home. We really lucked out with it, as "Is this apartment insulated?" was surprisingly enough not on our short list of questions. :)

The lack of insulation makes more sense, though, if mine is the first generation wherein a significant part of the population has grown up outside these old farmhouses and other types of housing like them. If you grew up in a drafty old house with packed-earth floors and a smoky fire for heat, an uninsulated apartment with a space heater would seem pretty luxurious by comparison - and if this sign is to be believed, that happened within my parents' generation.

I have to admit, this line of thought leads me to suspect that Mom might have grown up in just such a house, based on what she set the thermostat to at night in the winter... but I've been to Grandma's, so I guess she's in the clear. Good thing; school with no windows was traumatizing enough... :)



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