Posted : January 29, 2017
Echigo-Tsumari Forest School Koshogatsu course was held on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 January 2017. We had little snow and waited for snowfall until one day before the event and we finally had heavy snowfall on Saturday 14 January - almost too much so that the train service from Echigo-Yuzawa was suspended. We changed our plan and drove up to Echigo-Yuzawa to pick up participants as a result but we managed to welcome them at Sansho House two hours later than we planned. Children were full of energy despite the heavy snowfall.
We had a whole team of staff members of NPO, kohebi and local supporters to run the programme this year. As previously done, the dining room was decorated with “tree of dango”.
Participants joined “mochi-tsuki” under the guidance of local men form Kotani village upon arrival. Nothing better tastes than freshly made mochi and participants were pleasantly surprised with the traditional “zoni” of the village which was filled with delicacies but little soup and they also enjoyed vegetables pickles and onigiri for lunch.
We then ran a workshop to make “chinkoro” for the first time at the forest school after mochitsuki. Chinkoro, a traditional crafts of winter sold on 10, 15, 20, 25 of January every year at “Chinkoro market” in Tokamachi-city made of “shinko (rice powder)” and is believed to bring happiness to the household.
As it got darker we all got ready for “tori-oi (scaring off birds)”. Participants practiced the song for “tori-oi”, got dressed, and went out with lantern in hands. They were divided into three different groups and visited all the households in Kotani village.
♪ A-wan do-ri hen dori, ten jiku made tachiagare, hoy, hoy♪
The song sang by participating children in the snow resonated with wooden clappers.
We then served dinner in the “yukimi-gozen” style for the first time this year. Using traditional plates and bowls on individual tray participants enjoyed local winter delicacies and shared “treats” that children received from households they visited through tori-oi.
As the traditional ritual in Kotani village on the second day was postponed due to heavy snowfall, participants went to Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art, KINARE and played with ETAT artist Junichi Kurakake in the snow using snow board. Children were full of energy again.
After enjoying lunch at a local restaurant, we drove participants back to Echigo-Yuzawa as the train was still not running. We joined “dondo-yaki”, the local ritual that was postponed to Sunday 22 January and burnt new year’s decorations on behalf of the forest school participants.
We are very grateful for those who came over to participate in the ETAT Forest School as well as those who helped run the programme. Despite the bad weather, we managed to run the programme all thanks to your support.
Our programme was filmed by TV and part of it will be broadcasted as follows:
Yomiuri TV ”Tohku he ikitai”」On air: Sunday 12 February 2017
NihonTV 6:30- Yomiuri TV 7:00～
We are planning to run the next Forest School in March. Please visit Echigo-Tsumari Art Field website or follow us on Echigo-Tsuamri Forest School Facebook.
Staff member of NPO Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Collaborative Organisation
photo by Ayumi Yanagi