Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Kazamaura-mura 風間浦村, Shimokita-gun 下北郡, Aomori-ken 青森県: The Glocal Village


The first time I ever viewed the Kazamaura homepage I determined in my mind to translate it into English as an intellectual exercise in village partisanship. I have been sadly remiss in actualizing this commitment, and the village profile below is my very first instalment. Those who have attempted similar projects in the past will understand the challenges involved, and I invite you to compare my English version with the original homepage and consider what you might have done differently. I have attempted a fairly literal translation, with a special focus on keeping the original Japanese sentences intact while adapting their internal structure to English grammar. This means that some sentences are awkwardly long. As in any translation, there are instances in which I have resorted to approximations.

Kazamaura Village, which relies on fishing and tourism as its mainstays, is situated on the north coast of Aomori Prefecture’s Shimokita Peninsula at the northern extremity of Honshu and affords a view of Hokkaido’s Esanmisaki [恵山岬] and Hakodate Mountain [函館山] across the Tsugaru Strait. Long and narrow, measuring 20km east to west and 8km south to north, with 96% of its area taken up by mountain forests, it is a village blessed with the natural beauty of a wilderness terrain.

When it was established in 1889 through the amalgamation of the three former municipalities of Shimofuro Village [下呂村], Ikokuma Village [易国村], and Hebiura Village [蛇村], one kanji character was taken from each of these to give birth to the name of “Kazamaura” Village [風間浦村], and it is thriving to this day.

LOCATION: 141 degrees east longitude, 41 degrees and 29 minutes north latitude
LAND AREA: 69.60km2
POPULATION—Current figures taken from the March, 2004 census
Male: 1,427
Female: 1,449
Total: 2,876

VILLAGE EMBLEM (Adopted in May, 1971): The circles represent not only the three kanji characters in the name “Kazamaura,” but also the three industries of tourism, fishing and forestry, and the emblem is designed to evoke an image of these resources spearheading village development.

VILLAGE FLOWER: HAMANASU (Japanese Rose, Similar to Sweetbrier)
• Resistant to salt breezes, it is well suited to Kazamaura’s clime
• A long time ago, Hamanasu used to bloom in abundance along the Kazamaura coast

• Popularly referred to as “konpe,” these birds can be seen anywhere in the village
• Seagulls symbolize the fishing industry

• As a basis for industry in Kazamaura from of old, the Hiba tree has benefited many villagers
• Numerous Hiba trees grow in the mountains of Kazamaura, so all villagers are intimately familiar with them

We are the villagers of Kazamaura, blessed with green mountains, a bountiful sea, and beautiful rivers, who greatly value our history and our culture. We shall love our native Kazamaura forever, desiring its good fortune, and in order to build a bright, wholesome and pleasant to live in village we hereby establish this charter.

Resolved, that we shall obey rules and build a kind and cheerful village.
Resolved, that we shall take joy in our work and build a prosperous village.
Resolved, that we shall give hope to the young and purpose to the old, and that we shall build a warm-hearted village.
Resolved, that we shall love nature and build a beautiful village of flowers and greenery.
Resolved, that we shall always seek knowledge, familiarize ourselves with sports, and build an enjoyable village.

The first time I read this charter, I did so in the company of my Japanese housemate in Toronto. I have to confess that we barely got through it for laughter. Even now, every time I read “Resolved, that we shall obey rules . . .” I shake my head. Welcome to Pleasantville.