Townscape of Red, Fukiya -01 (Takahasshi, Okayama, Japan)

The village of Fukiya finally appeared when the car kept running on the mountain path winding narrowly and I realized the mountainousness of Chugoku hilly country. It locates at the distance of one hour from nearest Bitchu Takahashi Train Station and there are only three buses a day.

It is said that the copper mine started at the beginning of the 7th century. And, it was at the middle of the 16th century that the production of iron sulfide became full-scale as a by-product of the copper mine. It came to be able to produce a large amount of Bengala (red iron oxide), and Fukiya reached the summit of prosperity by the wealth.

Bengala was produced by baking Roha (melanterite) that was generated from the iron ore. It was used for the red color of ceramic and lacquer ware or the paint for the wooden part of architecture. Bengala of Fukiya excelled in the vividness of red color, and bore most of Bengala production of Japan temporarily.

Three families (Nishie, Hirokane and Tanimoto) for which the mine management was permitted monopolized the production of Roha and five families included the Katayama family monopolized the production of Bengala. Led by those families, the townscape of Fukiya that we see now was completed.

Shitaya district locates in the south, and, beyond the forest, Shimomachi, Nakamachi and Senmai district continue in a row along the main street.

In its prime, 180 houses and buildings included a theater lined. Now, due to the conflagration and the end of the production of Bengala, Fukiya has only 80 houses and 200 locals, but, Nakamachi district maintains the townscape of former times.

Beyond the small hill, Fukiya elementary schoolhouse exists, It was constructed in 1900 and is the oldest one between the schoolhouses of active service in Japan. The locals realized it according to the financial power produced from copper and Bengala after the village received the contribution of the copper mine headquarters site.

To Japanese Version

Link on Fukiya:

Fukiya Furusato Village

Link on Accomodations in Fukiya:

La foret Fukiya

Fukiya International Villa

Transportation :

1. To Okayama Station from Tokyo Station : 3 hours 20 minutes by Bullet Train 'Nozomi' via Tokaido Shinkansen Line and Sanyo Shinkansen Line. About 3 trains an hour --- To Bicchu Takahashi Station from Okayama Station : 35 minutes by Express Train 'Yakumo' via Hakubi-sen Line. About 1 train an hour --- To Fukiya Village from Bicchu Takahashi Station : 1 hour by Local Bus of Bihoku Bus Company. 3 buses a day.

2. To Okayama Station from Tokyo Station : 3 hours 20 minutes by Bullet Train 'Nozomi' via Tokaido Shinkansen Line and Sanyo Shinkansen Line. About 3 trains an hour --- To Fukiya Village from Okayama Station : 2 hours by Car.

3. To Okayama Airport from Tokyo Haneda Airport : 75 minutes by Flight. About 10 flights a day. --- To Fukiya Village from Okayama Airpot : 1 hour 30 minutes by Car.

Link on Transportations

Tokaido Shinkansen Line (Central Japan Railway Company)

Sanyo Shinkansen Line and Hakubi-sen Line (West Japan Railway Company)

Bihoku Bus Company

Tokyo Haneda Airport

Okayama Airport

Reference Materials:

「備中吹屋」(高原一朗、山崎泰雄、山陽新聞社、1993)

Upload : 2009.06

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Photo by Daigo Ishii