5 Facts about Ine no Funaya
Ine no Funaya translates into “the Boathouses of Ine”. These boathouses can be found in the bay of Ine, which is a Japanese town in the northern tip of Kyoto Prefecture. Internationally, the town has recently attracted some attention for being called the “Venice of Japan”. It’s time for another 5 Fact Friday, so I’m sharing a few interesting stories about Ine no Funaya!
1. 5 km of 230 Funaya Boathouses
Ine village is squeezed in between the mountains and Sea of Japan. The funaya boathouses were all built at water’s edge on a small strip of shoreline. This means a big part of the village has a linear shape and consists of a 5 km string of about 230 funaya. Ine village has about 2500 inhabitants in total. The town was officially founded in 1954, after the merger of four older villages.
2. Old Fishing Village on Eurasian Trade Route
Ine is known to be one of the last traditional fishing villages of Japan that has escaped urbanisation and remained intact. The first boathouses in Ine originate from the Edo period (1603-1868). The coastline of Ine village used to be part of a long trade route from the Eurasian continent to Kyoto. To this day, most of the funaya are still fishermen’s homes, although many are now being converted into restaurants, inns, or pubs.
4. The Urashima Tarou Legend
Several districts in Ine have been mentioned in a magical 15th century legend about Urashima Tarou. According to the legend, Urashima Tarou was a fisherman who rescued a turtle. The fisherman is rewarded for his good deed with a visit to the palace of Ryuujin. Ryuujin is the dragon god, who lives under the sea. The fisherman stays in the dragon god’s palace for three days. When he finally returns to his village, he finds himself 300 years in the future.
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3. Boat Dock Downstairs, Living Room Upstairs
Funaya have a very distinct layout, perfectly suited to a fisherman lifestyle. The funaya’s ground floor functions as a kind of garage for the residents’ boat, while the first floor are the living quarters for the family. The ground floor is usually also used as a workshop for repairing nets and drying fish.
5. The ‘100 Lists’
Ine Bay’s unique character has gained a reputation around Japan. The town has landed a place on several lists, including the “100 Landscapes of Heisei” list (the Heisei period is the current era in Japan), as well as the “100 Views of Nature in Kansai” list. Ine is located on the Tango Peninsula, which is known for its thick forests and sandy beaches.