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WELCOME TO KARASU

The personal portal to undiscovered Japan

By Benny Shouga 04/17/2016

When I first moved to Daisen, Tottori Prefecture nearly three years ago, I was shocked by the reaction of most Japanese friends. The response was largely the same: “Why would you move there?!” There—to San’in, the least populous, least developed region of the entire nation. I had visited Tokyo a handful of times before I ever saw or heard of the small, rural town I now call home. Having become somewhat familiar with the capital city, I assumed life there—the teem-ing streets, the maze of subways, the blur of concrete, neon, and glass— represented life in all of Japan.

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The giant wind power centers of Daisen, Tottori-ken, as seen from the coastline  (photography by Shiho Oshita)

Only upon my first visit to the rocky slopes of Mt. Daisen did I realize the gaps in my cultural education. From high above, surveying the honeycomb of villages and farmland surrounding that sacred mountain, I felt as if I had stumbled into a hidden, parallel Japan—a microcosmic web of tiny, intersecting worlds where nature and traditional life still hold sway, a universe apart from the bustle and sprawl of the big city. It took just one visit to know I never wanted to leave.

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One of the many sunflower fields outside Nagata village, Daisen   (Photography by Shiho Oshita)

I assumed I had known nothing of this “undiscovered” Japan simply because it’s off the Western tourist track. Yet in talking with urban-dwelling Japanese friends, I soon learned the gaps in their own knowledge. Most were unaware a town called Daisen even exists. Not a single one had ever seen the San’in region beyond a fleeting glimpse of its lush, green mountains and pristine rice fields whirring past the window of a bus or train. Some had never even spent more than a single day visiting the countryside anywhere at all. It is no overstatement to say that to never know the wonders of a place like this is a tragedy.

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Rugged cliffs overlook Iwami’s turquoise lagoons and inlets, in western Tottori  (Photography by Shiho Oshita)

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller in Japan, we aim to give you a new perspective on this great nation. From unique cultural events to local culinary specialties, from the fine arts to extreme sports, we will highlight the very best “undiscovered” Japan has to offer. Our mission at KARASU is to ensure that people the world over may know and experience our way of life in Daisen and countless communities like it across Tottori and Shimane Prefectures. A way of life that, despite the ever-encroaching threats posed by modernity, persists. Adapts. Even thrives.

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Deep snowdrifts fill the silent forests along Mt. Daisen’s wintry slopes   (Photography by Benny Shouga)

Towns like Daisen are the bridge in this continuum between past and future, traditional and modern. They have more to offer the intrepid traveller than our magazine can ever hope to document… but we will endeavor to capture it all with the humility and humor of the people who make these tiny worlds great. So, allow us to whisk you here to the San’in straight as the crow files… KARASU—your personal portal to undiscovered Japan!

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Sunset at Inasa no hama, near Izumo Taisha, Shimane Prefecture   (Photography by Shiho Oshita)