[Udatsu Townscape]

"Udatsu ga agaranai (うだつが上がらない)" is a word used in the sense of not being financially fortunate, not being able to get ahead in life, or not being blessed with good circumstances. "Udatsu" is mostly written in hiragana, and I had never really paid attention to what "udatsu," which I am not used to hearing in daily life, was in the first place, but this trip to Tokushima allowed me to learn the true identity of "udatsu."

The udatsu townscape is located in Wakimachi, Mima City, Tokushima Prefecture. Facing the Yoshino River, the area prospered as a gathering place for Awa indigo since the Edo period (1603-1867) because it was suitable for boat transportation. On the main street, which stretches about 430 meters, 85 townhouses from the mid-Edo period to the early Showa period still remain, and the area has been selected as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Stepping into the rows of townhouses, I felt as if I had stepped back in time to the Edo period and was bowled over by the efforts and commitment of the local people who have carefully preserved and passed down the townhouses to the present. As the name of the townscape suggests, the townhouses lined up here are characterized by their udatsu (wooden roofs). Udatsu are "udatsu"-shaped, plastered, sleeve walls that protrude from the second-story walls of Edo period minka (private homes). Originally, udatsu were installed for fire protection, but since it cost a great deal of money to install them, they gradually took on a more decorative meaning and became a symbol of wealth and success. In the Edo period (1603-1867), wealthy merchants who had achieved success competed with each other to build houses with magnificent udatsu, which is thought to have been the origin of the phrase "udatsu ga agaranai," meaning that one cannot get ahead in life or succeed no matter how long one remains unsuccessful.

Ai, which supported the development of the town, was favored by the townspeople of the Edo period as a "chic" color that became more sophisticated the more it was used, and was used in various aspects of daily life, such as kimonos, furoshiki (wrapping cloths), and noren (bamboo blinds). In rural areas, indigo-dyed cotton kimonos were also valued for their resistance to stains and insects. The fashionable indigo color was also used in the works of leading Edo ukiyoe artists such as Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige, and dye shops called "Aoya" and "Konya" appeared as subjects in their works. Robert William Atkinson, an English chemist who came to Japan as a hired foreigner from the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period and also conducted research on dyes, named the indigo color seen everywhere in Japan "Japan blue. I admire his good sense in naming the color indigo, which has been closely associated with the Japanese sense of beauty and lifestyle, and at the same time wonder how he would describe it if he were to visit modern Japan. The pure white plastered walls of the udatsu townscape enhanced the blue of the blue indigo, and were a wonderful reminder of the Japanese landscape as Robert would have seen it today. We hope many people will visit this place.

We carry a variety of products that can bring Japan blue into your daily life. Please take a look.

Marukawa Shoten's Hijiki
Marukawa Shoten's Shijimi
Marukawa Shoten's Azuma Bukuro

https://www.ndl.go.jp/landmarks/details/detail023.html (Utagawa Hiroshige, "Meisho Edo Hyakkei: Kanda Konyacho")