Friday, June 17, 2005


utasebune, originally uploaded by amakusavibe.

Ashikita is the homeport of the unique utasebune, a kind of fishing sailboat that can still be seen in healthy numbers gracing the Yatsushiro Sea. Approaching one on our way back to Amakusa, we could see that the sails are not actually used for propulsion (the boats are motor-equipped), but rather for dragging nets deployed on the boat's windward side. Why such a relic of the past survives only here is anyone's guess; anyhow it bears witness to a sense of everyday esthetics that must have enriched people's lives in the past, but has been replaced in today's Japan by and all-pervasive, nonsensical, industrial ugliness. This boat was the most esthetically pleasing manmade thing we had seen here in a while, harmonizing beautifully with its natural environment. In stark contrast to it was the artificial beach we had just left behind, where for the benefit of the five or six bathers present megaphones were blaring non-stop the broadcast of a commercial radio station. The numerous advertisements and interminable yabber of the DJ's was rendered unintelligible by sound interference from the well-spaced megaphones. It was stupefying to think that Japanese beachgoers prefer this ludicrous cacophony to the natural sounds of the birds and the waves.


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