Ise-Shima National Park encompasses an area of 50 km from east to west and 40 km from south to north in the Shima Peninsula area of Mie Prefecture. The coast is characterized by ria, which are ancient river valleys now submerged under oceanic bays. Our ria include “Ago Bay” and a deep bay called “Toba Bay.” Ria also results in the tops of ancient mountain peaks forming islands in these bays, which only make your views of the ocean more spectacular. In this large National Park of beautiful bays and primeval forests, local inhabitants have lived their lives sustainably and in coexistence with nature for countless generations. Throughout the ages, the land and waters of Toba have always gifted fishermen, women divers, and farmers with sustenance and spiritual nourishment. Women divers, called “Ama,” still scour the sea floors today, looking for pearls, oysters, sea urchins, seaweed, and shellfish. The continuation of this ancient cultural heritage is the result of a carefully crafted wisdom passed down from generation to generation, a wisdom that thankfully received the bounty from the Earth, but also always left some gifts behind so that the Earth may have some for itself. We inhabitants of Toba have a tradition of not taking all the gifts of the sea, wishing that next generations will be gifted with nature’s bounty. We are also aware of the interconnection of natural processes. For example, after fishing, women divers chop the trees in the mountain to get firewood for their seaside huts. This chopping serves another, more important purpose: the forests of the mountains are pruned, thereby staying healthy. These divers intuit that the richness of the bays, from which they made a living, are dependent upon the nutrients that flow down from the mountains.
Living alongside nature while protecting it—we believe that this is “ecology” in its fullest meaning. The role ryokons can take is to demonstrate this reality architecturally and sensually during guests’ stay. We have set an example at “Oyado The Earth” by purchasing 180,000 square meters of land for our site premises and only developing 5% of it for the ryokon. We hope to maintain the undeveloped 95% primeval forest, including the bay on our premises called “Ongi no Hama,” where Ama (women divers) still dive today. By doing all of this, we hope that our ryokan can help to pass an even better environment to our descendants and to the future “guests of the Earth.”
What can we at “Oyado The Earth” do in order to “inherit” our sea, mountains, forests, and sky? How can we respond to the greatest challenge facing humans today—protecting our ancient livelihoods, traditions, and our natural resources? We believe that the answer to these questions depends upon our remembering our place in and relation to the Earth. That is what “Oyado The Earth” does: every aspect of your stay seeks to reintroduce you to the power of the Earth, whether that power be soft and rejuvenating like a gentle breeze or hard and fierce like a typhoon storm. “Oyado The Earth” reminds us how to better coexist with nature. We look forward to welcoming you to our ryokan so that you, too, can discover and experience this lesson.