In the past, establishments such as ryokan and hotels
didn't exist out in the country in Japan. When important
people from the capital, or traveling artists or performers
arrived, it was the role of the patron to give them
a meal and a place to sleep. In more recent times,
at the start of the 30th year of Showa (1955) when
there was a grand sumo tournament revival in Obuse
(the tour of the Takashima stable), the fact that
the wrestlers were able to stay in several different
houses proves that the custom still remains. The exchanges
that take place over nights like that truly are important.
Based on this, and conceived as a place to receive
and serve guests and travelers, the Masuichi Guest
House was constructed. It serves as the creation (or
re-creation) of a place to gather culture and intellectual
stimuli from across the country.
The last time Obuse was included in the Nagano Marathon
course was April 2003, it was quickly decided that
three months later on Marine Day of 2003 that Obuse
would host its own separate event, the Obuse mini
Marathon, a half-marathon. Using the catchphrase "There's
no Ocean in Obuse, but We're Making Waves," the
mini Marathon is a unique race, run through streets
and riverbanks, and ending up in temporary roads.
Also, it is famous for the cheers or the people along
the roadsides, and the "Running in Harmony"
(Enso in Japanese, which also can mean performance);
many amateur bands and volunteer performers playing
along the way. However, the thing worth special note
is not the main event, but the home-made event that
the townspeople and volunteers have created without
any government subsidy.
During the Nagano Olympics, Obusedo participated in
the Hospitality Program, and served as a meeting place
to receive the English Olympic Committee. 12 parties
were held in the Obusedo Main Store, The Club (at
that time a temporary party venue), and also on the
second floor of a main house. During the Olympics,
the Hokusai Museum was open until 8 in the evening,
and sometimes served as a location for welcome drinks.
Also, performances of Hokusai Taiko echoed through
the winter night and truly gave Obuse a fantastic
In April of 1998, after the Nagano Olympics had ended,
Obuse with a population of 12,000 people was able
to make use of the volunteer interpreters remaining
to hold an international event, and thus the 3rd International
Hokusai Conference was opened. Hokusai researchers,
students, and art dealers from all around the world
attended this academic conference, 350 from Japan
and 150 from overseas, bringing the total to 500 people.
This combined with the Hokusai Festival, visually
defined Obuse as the town of Hokusai. Also, the "Hokusai"
A bridge from East to West "gallery" opened
at the Shinano Prefectural Art Museum and gallery
talks held amongst the conference participants. The
visitors to this exhibit, together with those held
in Tohoku and Yamaguchi have reached a total of one
hundred and twenty thousand people.
Order and arrangement is the base of Japanese culture.
Everyone has an area they take pride in and keep clean,
but with an increase in such things as littering in
recent years, the 1530 Project was born from an idea
to work together and protect the area, so people volunteer
on the 15th and 30th of every month to clean up the
town. Since this project will be held 24 times in
a year, we began plans to work on keeping things clean
24 hours a day in 2003. It looks like it will get
going before things get too tough. This project is
a movement to take care of the city throughout the
year by doing such things as shoveling snow in the
winter, pulling weeds in spring and summer, and gathering
leaves in the fall.In Japanese, 1530 can be pronounced
“Ichi Gomi Zero,” which brings to mind the other meanings
for the words: Ichi (city), Gomi (garbage), Zero.
Wooden barrel brewing was brought back into the new
millennium after 50 years, but just that won't continue
the cooper's trade, so we thought about what could
be done. Then we spoke with brewers all across the
country and looked to bring back wood barrel brewing
there as well. Over 30 different breweries stepped
forward. In 2006, it became an NPO and now seeks as
well to pass fermentation culture (sake, miso, soy
sauce, pickles, as well as Oke barrels) on to the