March 11, 2010

Japan's Venice

Before land was reclaimed from the surrounding Tokyo Bay in the early 1960s, Urayasu city (in Chiba) was known as the Venice of Japan. Where Tokyo Disneyland now stands was once all water. Canals acted as roads, and people made their living by gathering clams and making nori (laver). Urayasu City's Habitat Museum has faithfully recreated the local living environment as it was, half a century ago. Above is a general store selling candy and tobacco, watched over by the ubiquitous welcoming cat.

On the entrance of houses and establishments, a hiiragi iwashi has been put up. Literally "holly sardine", it is part of a Setsubun (the day before the beginning of spring) custom warding off bad luck. Since Setsubun is on February 3nd, it seems the museum is a bit tardy in taking down their decorations.

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