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Yohara lying in an uvala in a mountainous region of Yamaguchi Prefecture is a unique hamlet.

This hamlet is located near Akiyoshidai, one of the most famous limestone plateaus in Japan. A short drive off the main road and along a narrow mountain road leads to this hamlet of about 50 houses lying in an uvala. Uvala is a limestone terrain. Over a long period of time, acidic rainwater dissolves various parts of the limestone plateau, creating mortar-shaped depressions called dolines (1 meter to 100 meters in diameter). As this process progresses, multiple dolines eventually connect to form large irregular-shaped depressions, which are called uvalas. The large ones cover an area of several square kilometers and are 200 meters deep. Because the terrain was formed by acidic rainwater dissolution, all rainwater is absorbed underground, creating no rivers and no ponds. The inhabitants had no rice paddies which require tons of water, so they had no choice but to cultivate the small fields. In the past, they hence bartered with neighboring villagers to obtain rice. The precious water from the wells is only to drink and cook. In addition, they have also held unique rituals to honor the snake and frog as gods of the forest to give thanks for a good harvest. This form of belief is said to closely resemble that of the Korean Peninsula and is not found in other areas of Japan. Unfortunately, agriculture in this hamlet has been declining in recent years, and the number of the people who continue this unique ritual is also nose-diving. Hence this unique culture here is truly on the brink of extinction.

Licensed tour guide, travel consultant,

Masahisa Takaki.

全国通訳案内士 高木聖久。


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