You may be wondering what these two names mean. In this section, we’ll briefly cover the Tango peninsula, and Asobi Cho (literally “Playtown”)
The Tango peninsula
The Tango hanto (peninsula) is about 125kms from Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe, and is easily accessible by car, train, or bus. The trip takes about 2.5 hours by car or train, and about 3 hours by bus. The peninsula is a beautiful, unspoiled destination with many mountains, forests, hot springs and a stunning coastline, that alternates between ancient lava, exceptional geological formations, and long, white sand beaches. Rather than repeat what others have written, I’ll link to three great articles below.
Asobi Cho (Playtown) or Asobi Gyoko (fishing port), is a tiny fishing village on the western coast of the Tango peninsula. Harking from late in the Edo period (c.1800), the primary industry of the time was most definitely fishing, which continued up until 2015, when the last commercial fishing boat ceased operations. The fishing out from the port is outstanding, with many varieties of fish in abundance, including Buri (Yellowtail), Sawara (Spanish Mackerel), Tai (Bream), Hirame (Flounder), and many types of Hata (Rock Grouper). Decent fish can even be caught inside the small harbour, and Suzuki (Sea Bass) and Tobiuo (Flying Fish) certainly enjoy these calm waters.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the weaving trade took hold in the area, and most buildings in the village would have housed some weaving looms in order to make the local Chirimen silk fabric. Tango Chirimen (silk crepe) has been made in the Tango area since the Edo period (1603 – 1868) and still accounts for around 60% of all fabric production for kimono in Japan. You can find excellent information about Tango Chirimen at this website: http://www.tangochirimen.jp/en/
As with so many small Japanese villages, Asobi has seen its fair share of troubles, and most of the looms are now gone, to be replaced with a deafening silence. There is one loom still running in the village, but one feels the inevitable is just around the corner, as most youngsters head away to bigger cities for greater opportunity or adventure, leaving the elders to look after what is left. Many properties have fallen into disrepair, however there are some who believe that Asobi should be preserved and restored, and several buildings have undergone extensive restoration, Asobi Lodge included.
The future of our little village is looking bright, with domestic and international tourism driving the renaissance, as more people seek the quiet, relaxed atmosphere of the Japanese countryside, after the controlled chaos of the city sights. Asobi offers an abundance of simple pleasures, including coastal walks, great cycling, and of course, amazing food just up the road.