‘What do you want to go to Yame for?’ said the American guy hanging around the information kiosk in Kurume, ‘there’s nothing there’. We had come to Kurume precisely to go to Yame, which was a bus ride away down the road leading south towards the tea plantations. When we got off the bus, we began to think the American might have had a point. Yame was a flat, featureless town built on a grid, with no sign of the traditional wooden houses and tea shops we had been led to believe were there. Eventually a local led us through some back streets and then suddenly, without warning, there were the wooden houses, old fashioned shops, and a welcoming restaurant in what had been the salt merchant’s house. The tea merchant’s house was pretty nice too, with bags of locally grown green tea in what I now know to be Yame Washi bags. There was a wonderful feeling of young, enthusiastic energy to the town: creativity and beauty abounded.
The rest of this first day in Yame is history (see last post) – calling in at the tourist craft building and being whisked off by car out through the tea plantations and past a shrine where we turned left, incidentally, to get to Paper Heaven.
The next day we wandered round Kurume for rather too long, buying pots at the lovely little pot shop
and having lunch in the Cafe Hibi below the pottery shop where the ceiling was made of paper
before realising that we had hardly any time to get to the fabled indigo dyers and weavers near Yame, the place designated by the state as ‘Important Intangible Cultural Heritage’. And having got off at what seemed to be the right bus stop it took us ages to find the Moriyama’s workshops: they may have been ‘Important Intangible’ etc etc but for the neighbours you could add ‘Invisible” to the list. We nearly gave up: time was running out, but we did get there, just in time. Moral: never assume something won’t be possible. Belief is important! And here it is: the Moriyama’s Indigo Heaven.
(Apologies for the fact that the sound in the video is very low. This blog is already taking so much time that I can’t go back to correct it just yet. Luckily the text is more informative)
Links to various places mentioned above:
(How to get to the Moriyama’s: Bus 31 or 30 from Kurume bus station direction Yame. Get off at KAWAZE (nondescript stop but the driver will tell you) – about 20 -25 mins. Get off bus, walk back to lights, take a left, then left at next lights, and it is about 500m down road on right. Hope that helps!)