People in everywhere enjoy a game of croquet or ground golf. It’s the same in the town of Yaotsu. There are a number of groups in the area and they all enjoy playing ground golf. Today we’re going to visit the Kyu Hachiko grounds and the people playing ground golf there. This group of 20 gathers two to three times a week. After ground golf they spend even more time together for tea and other things. One of the players said, “In the morning I take the vegetables from my field to the agricultural center and then come straight here. I like that I can have fun here and it helps me make a rhythm in my life.” Everyone here has lived in Yaotsu for decades. When we asked about the life in Yaotsu, there are things that city folk couldn’t believe that are prevalent in this area and this easy-going atmosphere is apparent throughout the town. “When I've gone out, I often find vegetables left at my front door. It’s easy to tell who left them by what kind of vegetable it is.” You can here many warm-hearted stories like this.
Take a trip into the countryside and you’ll see many monuments and Jizo statues on the roadside. You can find statues like these in any town, but perhaps because they’re used to them, locals don’t really pay attention. In Yaotsu there is a stone monument, overlooking the Kamidaida Terraced Rice Fields. On the monument you’ll find the poem, ‘Beauty of the Seasons, Plums and Cherry Blossoms on Kitayama.’ These were the lyrics sung by the locals who were fond of haiku poetry in the 1980’s when a school campus in the Kitayama area was closed. In the Kitayama region, both the plum and the cherry blossoms bloom together when spring comes and it is said the lyrics were written to capture that beauty. You can see how much the people of the town love Yaotsu with stories like this monument, which was funded by a local doctor.
There is also a lantern on the corner of the farm road that leads to the Kamidaida Terraced Rice Fields. What could such a lantern in the middle of fields means? Perhaps a landmark giving directions?
Long ago there were three shrines in Kamidaida, a Gongenyama Shrine, Suwa Shrine and Akiba Shrine. All of the shrines were at the top of the mountain, a tough hike even for young people and even tougher for the elderly. This lantern was placed there to show visitors the right path to the shrines. People who were too weak to make it to the shrines would visit this lantern and pray to it instead in place of the shrine.This is a symbol of compassion for elders who can no longer move freely and it also serves as a symbol of faith for the people of long ago.