Tuesday, May 10, 2005


siine, originally uploaded by vibromama.

Our next stop was the scenic hamlet of Shiine where one can see, if one can believe the local tourist info, the only stone roofs in Japan. A short walk from the port takes one to the village where a few stone-roofed houses are preserved, as well as many more with conventional roofs but similar wooden structure underneath; a design that we would see in many other places on these islands. Compact, modest, and windowless, with thick wooden beams and pillars supporting the heavy roofs, the houses seem to evoke harsh living conditions of the past. This impression is made stronger when these dwellings are compared with Tsushima's modern houses - real mansions by Japanese standards: huge, spreading and, it seems, furnished preferentially in Western style. We were scratching our heads about both of these architectures, wishing we knew more about Korean ways of doing things to see if there is any influence. The mansions, we figured, were there because land must be cheap here in as rural a place as can be found in Japan. The rest of the story was filled in later when chatting with the locals: a generation or so ago the pearl business boomed for a short time and Tsushima, with its large cultured pearl farms, prospered briefly.


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