The municipality of Ena is quite vast ! We went on Monday to Nakanohô (中野方), which could mean “around the middle of the wild”. It is quite a good name actually. The scenery is really green, forest almost everywhere, rivers… and of course some paddy fields.
Actually we wanted to see the “factory” where our son’s violin was made. Quite bucolic ! Old buildings surrounded by the forests, the odors of the wood, lacquer or varnish, the smoke for drying the wood…
We discovered an “old school” factory where mandolins, violins and their brothers are made by hand by skilled professionals. Ena Gakki was founded 60 years ago (1955) and employed around 200 persons during its golden age. The main client and brand that has been using its craftsmanship is Suzuki Violin. They still do the maintenance for some old guitars (they used to produce) and all the instruments made in their workshops.
As soon as you see the building it will be like going back, just after the war. Everything seems untouched !
The 25 remaining craftsmen are still producing the finest Japanese instruments, even if the works now are more on demand or for different brands.
It is the Japanese leader of mandolins production and the last factory in Japan for the violins.
So if you need an instrument, especially a mandolin – easy to learn like the ukélélé -, a good quality, a good price, maybe the trip to the small factory can be interested !
Even if you do not buy anything you can also have a look at Sakaori Tanada. There is festival at twilight each June called Tomoshibi Matsuri (灯まつり) that is really beautiful : lights are set up around the paddy fields, and there is a walk with a lantern (you need to register, price 1000 Yens, up to 80 people, dress up with traditional clothes). This year (2016) it is scheduled for the 4th June – see the webpage above.
Check the video below :
For lunch I recommend you to stop at Fudô Taki Yasai no Kai : for around 600 Yens you can get local tasty vegetables ! (+100 Yens to refill one’s plate). It is owned by the local farmers, cheap and delicious, straight from the fields. (the coffee was not very good…)
NOTE : You need a car to go there, about 50 min to 1 hour from Iwamura and the guesthouse.