Kakashi Festival

This month I arrived in Joge to quite the surprise. The New Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, was visiting!

He was very easy to talk to, but a little stiff. Joking aside, Joge hosts a famous kakashi or scarecrow festival every year during the fall time.

This tradition dates back to early on in Joge’s history as it transitioned from a farming community to a merchant community. As fields and rice paddies began to disappear and be replaced with roads, shops, and houses the people of Joge found themselves with many left over scarecrows that “lost their jobs” so to speak. Feeling bad for these jobless scarecrows, locals began putting them back to work every harvest season by making interesting scenes of famous people or characters around the town. The creativity and effort always impresses me! Also, it makes for a fun  photo opportunity.

This year Kimetsu no Yaiba or Demon Slayer characters were very popular.

When visiting in the fall you can enjoy looking for these cute kakashi and then vote for your favorite. I wonder who will win this year?


While the scarecrows show off their new jobs, the trees also show off their new colors this time of year. After taking pictures of kakashi scenes and placing my secret vote, I took a short hike to Joge Kameyama Hachiman Shrine in search of the quiet beauty of Joge’s mountain momiji. Momiji is the Japanese word for maple leaves and in early fall, momiji turn bright red.

Kameyama Hachiman Shrine was first built in 1327 and then in 1927 it was restored and given special rank. The shrine complex sits at the top of a small hill with easy to climb stairs. It is located about 10 minutes away from the town center.

Japanese Shinto Shrines are quiet places to feel connected with nature and reflect on life. Here you can see a red-roofed kamidana or spirit house resting serenely as red maple leaves fall gently in the waiting reflection pool. At the main shrine you can ring a bell and offer small change to make prayers for a happy life.

Although Shinto is a native Japanese religion, all are welcome and encouraged to self-reflect or make a prayer. If you choose to participate or watch respectfully either way you are sure to feel enveloped in the autumn atmosphere and beautiful traditional architecture.

Viewing the colorful leaves and considering the changing seasons is an important part of the fall experience. Sitting under the golden scarlet curtain of nature while listening for the call of the quietly coming winter winds, you can feel the power of the Kameyama Shrine’s almost 700 year history.


After reflecting on the past, my mind often wanders back to thoughts on the future. What might happen next? How will we address the many difficult social and ecological problems that continue to build with each passing year?

I found that I was not alone in these thoughts, as many Joge residents expressed worry over how late the leaves are changing this year due to the warm weather. If things keep heating up like this beautiful fall mountain scenes may become a thing of the past!

As I walked back to the center of town from the shrine, thinking these heavy thoughts, I noticed a rather strange sign:

An electric vehicle (EV) charging station? Car sharing?

These days, with talk of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and businesses racing to perfect hybrid, electric and even self-driving cars, such a thing may not be very surprising in a large city, but in a small Japanese country town? I had to find out more!


Searching the sign’s information online I soon found I was another 10 minute walk away from Hotta Ringyo, a vehicle servicing and sales business in Joge. Admittedly, I was a little nervous to come in unannounced asking about electric cars, but to my surprise the owner, a Mr. Teppei, greeted me with a friendly “good afternoon” in English as I came in the door. He was more than happy to sit down and explain to me what exactly EV stations are doing all the way out here in such a rustic setting.

Teppei explained, “Joge has an electric car sharing system to help improve community life and make a stronger future.” His electric car sharing system also called Sato-Yama car sharing originated from a Swiss idea. In Switzerland a group of university students discovered they could meet their transportation needs while simultaneously reducing carbon emission through developing a car sharing system. After some trial and error the students discovered that as few as 3 cars could accommodate the travel and daily errands of about 10 people!


Teppei’s system began in 2010 and now has about 700 people enrolled in car sharing. The idea may seem strange at first, but after signing up I discovered the system was not so difficult. In order to ensure two or more people do not simultaneously need the electric car, reservations are made digitally and can be done from the convenience of your smartphone.

The electric cars themselves are placed strategically around Joge Town and after reservation can be unlocked by a special magnetic card, received after signing up for the program. They are great for short trips around the town or to see sites that may be difficult to get to on foot.

As the cars are 100 % electric the payment fees are primarily based on rental time. Not including the small sign up fees for joining the program, borrowing an electric car for 15 minutes will only cost about 220 yen. While borrowing for 24 hours will cost a little more, about 7,150 yen. This is much cheaper than renting a large traditional gasoline consuming car!

It is Teppei’s hope that through encouraging sustainable alternatives and building a sense of community, human beings will be more conscious of their impact on the world and the people they live alongside.


For those visitors who are very interested in sustainable transportation but may not have an international driver’s license, please don’t worry there is another way!

Just like in larger cities around the world, Joge’s Tenryo Guest House also offers rental bikes that you can borrow during your stay, making your trips to shrines, restaurants, and local events even faster.

The bikes don’t require any previous reservation or license and only cost 100 yen to take out for the day!

If more communities offered sustainable travel alternatives, like Joge, then pollution could be reduced. For the sake of natural beauty and those cute hardworking kakashi, we should try using new ideas like rental bikes and car sharing to help do our part and create a cleaner future.

Until next time, stay well and stay green.

For more information in English on transportation around Joge town or planning your own future tour of Kameyama Hachiman Shrine please contact me at thometeach@gmail.com












今年は『鬼滅の刃(Damon Slayer)』のキャラクターが大人気でした。


























近頃、SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals 持続可能な開発目標)や電気とエンジン併用車のようにハイブリッド化を競うビジネスは大都市では珍しくありませんが、なぜ小さな日本の田舎町に?



いきなり電気自動車のことを訊きに入るのは少し緊張しましたが、驚いたことにオーナーのてっぺい氏は店内に入る私に優しく“Good Afternoon(こんにちは)”と英語で声をかけてくださいました。

彼は腰を下ろし、むしろ嬉しそうになぜこんな田舎でEV stations (充電スタンド) を設置してきたのか経緯を説明してくださったのです。
















世界中の都市同様に、ゲストハウス「泊まれる町家 天領上下」にも貸し自転車があります、神社へ、レストランへ、イベントへと時短で移動できますね










Matt Thome(マット=トーミ)とSage Panter(セイジ=パーンタ)



2021.11.27 / Joge Guides