The End of an Era or the Beginning of a New One?

I read today, on Yahoo Japan news, that the hot springs (onsen) where Sakamoto Ryoma and his wife Oryo spent their honeymoon, said to be the first honeymoon in Japan, is to be closed down due to dilapidation. That’s a real shame. In 2010 NHK will air their historical drama “Ryoma-den” and the Ryoma “boom” is just on the rise again. It seems a shame to close down something that is likely to bring in a lot of revenue from tourism and boost the local economy. Why don’t the local government, to which the hot springs establishment now belongs, simply put in a bit of investment and give the place a make-over? Exactly how dilapidated can it be? Ryoma is just beginning  to make more of an impression on the world stage now too. I’m pretty sure the place would get its fair share of foreign tourism.

I was intrigued to see that the Ryoma Festival held at Gogoku Shrine this year had its fair share of foreign visitors, not including myself of course. I have also noticed in recent years the number of foreign tourists visiting Maruyama Park in Kyoto and taking the time to inspect the statue of Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro at the far end of the park. No one really seems to have noticed the smaller statue of Nakai Hiromu at the other end of the park closer to the entrance to Yasaka Shrine though; most Japanese do not even pay attention to that. If you ever get a chance to go to Maruyama Park, do go and have a look at Nakai Hiromu’s statue (pictured below).

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