An outline of Tomi City
Tomi City is in the Eastern Region of Nagano Prefecture, which is located almost in the center of Japan. It is 190 km from Tokyo (1hours 40 minutes by train) and 50 km from the city of Nagano, which played host to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. The City hall is located at a latitude of 36 degrees 21 minutes North and longitude of 138 degrees 20 minutes East and is 533 meters above sea level. The area of Tomi City is 112.3 square kilometers There is about 32,000 population.
Unno Juku (Reservation Area for Important Traditional Buildings)
Unno Juku was established as a post station on the old Hokkoku Kaido in 1625 during the Edo era(1600-1867). It was an important rest spot for travellers to Zenkoji Temple, transporters of commodities, and Daimyo (feudal lords) processions.
When post stations declined after the Meiji era(1868-1911), people of Unno Juku began silkworm culture,and silkworm egg production using large rooms. As the soil in this neighborhood was sandy, it was good for raising silkworms. Silkworm eggs were shipped all over Japan as well as overseas, and the residents of Unno Juku prospered. Thus, Unno Juku was changed from a poststation to a sericultural town.
The stores and houses on Unno Juku Street are a mixture of Edo-era inn structures and rearing houses from the Meiji era.
There are some distinctive buildings, one of which is Degeta zukuri - an inn whose second floor projects out over the first.
’There are also some distinctive architectural features to be found. Most of the houses feature udatsu walls. These ornamental walls, originally serving as fire-prevention walls, come from the Meiji era. The lattice work, originating in the Meiji or Edo era, is known as unno goshi. Smoke exhausts, or kinuki, are found in many of the ceilings. Fires were used to warm the silkworms, and kinuki allowed the smoke to escape.
The Unno Juku Friendship Festival is held yearly on November 23rd (Japanese Labor Day). This festival is marked by a parade with traditional costumes along this street of old houses.
The House of Sumo Wrestler "Raiden"
Perhaps Tomi City’s most notable hero, Raiden was one of Japan’s all-time great sumo wrestlers. Raiden was born in 1767. At the age of 23, he began his wrestling career. He had immediate success and was soon promoted to Ozeki(champion) status. During his sixteen-year career, he won more than 96% of his bouts, a record that has never been matched.
According to legend, Raiden stood 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighed over 350 pounds. It is said that he could lift an iron bathtub with his mother still sitting inside it and that he was once single-handedly removed a huge rock that blocked his passage.
Clearly, few Japanese have ever approached his size and strength. Because Raiden loved his parents very much, he spent a lot of money rebuilding their house, which was originally located west of the present site. The house was restored to its original state at this location in 1984.
The restored house was built after the model of his mentor’s residence. On the first floor, there is an indoor dohyo(sumo ring) where he could train even when the weather was bad. On the second floor, there is a balcony equipped for watching sumo. Local sumo fans used to assemble there to watch Raiden practice.
Near the entrance there is a big stone that weighs over 200 pounds. It is said that, at an early age, Raiden hung this stone from the end of his plow and trained himself by lifting it up.
For many years, this stage has been the center of amusement for the local people. According to an old document, this stage was constructed in 1817, a year later than the Nishimachi Stage in this district. It is thought that Kabuki, or traditional Japanese theater, has been performed here since that time.
The stage at Higashimachi has a revolving portion with a diameter of 18 feet. The spectator’s site is formed like stairs and is thought to be precious in the history of kabuki, especially infarming areas.
The stage is managed by the historical preservation society, and Kabuki performances are held even today. Elementary school children living in this area also play an important role in preserving the stage. They perform folk tales and legends which have been handed down from generation to generation by people in this district.
* Kabuki was thought to be very popular and was a treat for the ordinary people of the Edo period. However, it generally became a pastime for upper class people.
Yunomaru is a treasure trove of alpine plants. From mid-June to early July, 600,000 stocks of Japanese azalea bloom all together.
There is a trek of about 2.5 miles from Jizo Mountain Pass to Ikenotaira Everglade. You can see countless numbers of flowers on the route from July to August. At the everglade, you can encounter 1,000 different kinds of plants, including iris and horse grass clumps. The heights are also full of birds. If you are lucky, you can even see golden eagles.
Yunomaru Heights also offers excellent mountaineering, hiking, and camping from June to October. The tops of Mt. Yunomaru and Mt. East Kagonoto even offer glimpses of Mt. Fuji on clear days.
Both peaks are convenient half-day hikes that are both easy andenjoyable.
From December to March, Yunomaru offers the nearest powder snow from Tokyo. Yunomaru Ski Area bustles with skiers and snowboaders who seek the great snow. Snowboarders are welcomed on all slopes.
Tomi is famous for walnuts, potatoes and Kyoho grapes.
Tomi City has a somewhat cool climate, a low rate of precipitation and gets plenty of sunlight. Therefore Tomi has become a source of walnuts (especially Shinano Gurumi) with its favorable location for walnut cultivation.
We select and cultivate quality breeds of walnuts based on the size and thickness of husks. We hope that Tomi City is reputation as a good source of walnuts will spread even further in the future.
Hakudo Bareisyo (Potatoes)
Mimakigahara plateau is located in the south of Tomi City and Yaehara plateau spreads out over its west area. They stand at 780 meters above sea level. The potatoes harvested these areas are called "Hakudo Bareisyo" for the whiteness of their skin. The delicious taste of these potatoes is a result of the strong clay soil of the plateaus, the regionfs low rate of precipitation, and the wide range of temperatures experienced during both day and night.
The Hakudo Bareisyo is highly recognized and is traded all over Japan as a high quality potato.
The word "kyoho" means "the big mountain" and kyoho are characterized by their distinctive color and sweetness.
Kyoho has long been a staple crop of the region, and its cultivation dates back many years. Tomi has become a proud-source of first class kyoho in Japan by urging research of cultivation techniques and by using a system of communal shipment.
Now we manage the quality control of kyoho by a unified producing system.