We went to Kishiwada today. Kishiwada is a city about 20 km south of here, on the way to Kansai airport. It became well-known throughout Japan because of a popular morning TV drama called カーネーション Carnation, which aired in 2011 and 2012.
The drama is based on the life of Ayako Koshino, a fashion designer who grew up in Kishiwada in the early part of the 20th century. The daughter of a kimono maker, she turned her talents to designing western-style clothes, and became successful and famous. Her 3 daughters also went on to become successful designers.
At the entrance to the shopping arcade, there is a very attractive mural depicting characters from the TV series against Kishiwada landmarks, and saying “Here’s where it all started.”
(Also at the entrance to the arcade is a clock that plays local scenes and music on the hour. We noticed it just as it was finishing, and were furious with ourselves that we had missed it. Not enough to make us want to hang around for an hour to catch the next performance though!)
Inside the shopping arcade, they have prepared a replica shop for tourists to visit.
The name over the shop is “Ohara” – the name of the heroine of the drama, a fictionalised version of Koshino. A short distance away, you can find a shopfront with “Koshino” over the door. I am not sure whether this is a real shop, perhaps belonging to one of the descendants of Ayako Koshino.
The shop sign is written from right to left, which I occasionally see on older shops.
We wandered through the residential streets of the downtown area, many of which are still lined with old wooden houses and retain an old-fashioned character.
Plum blossoms just starting to open:
There is an intriguing references to an old story about a giant octopus helping to defend the castle long ago; for example the local train station is called Takojizou (octopus – guardian deity) and features a stained-glass window depicting the surreal scene.
Here the two dogs take a keen interest in a duck in the castle moat.
We were pleasantly surprised by how much there is to see and do in Kishiwada, and will definitely go back to do some of the things we missed today.
A note on the word of the day:
TV dramas are very popular and influential in Japan. Each year, for example, NHK produces a historical drama series (Taiga dorama) telling the story of a real character in Japanese history. This prompts a major revival of interest in that period of history, and in sites associated with that person. For example, in 2011-12 there was a series about Lady Go, a 16th century noblewoman from Shiga. When we found her grave and memorial in the cemetery at Koya-san, a plaque had been erected that mentioned the TV series.
The word ドラマ dorama is simply a Japanese version of the English word “drama”. Combined with the word 朝 asa meaning “morning” we have 朝ドラマ asadorama or asadora for short. These series, featuring female main characters, are shown every day for 6 months, and become enormously popular, watched by 10s of millions of people (stereotypically, by housewives after they have got their husbands and children ready and sent them off to work and school).