Mutual conflict in small town Japan

Today I got to climb a route up Mt. Haguro that I had never been to before. I’ve been on Mt. Haguro probably more than 100 times (this is not an exaggeration), but I had never climbed up the Haguro Kodo (old Haguro path).

I had heard where the path comes out only days prior and was shocked that it came out where it did because I had no idea there was even a path there. There’s no signs or anything from the top, you sort of just have to know. Which is strange because there is signage from the entrance and on the way up.

I think this happens because the path crosses the border between two municipalities, Shonai town to the east where the path originates, and Tsuruoka to the west where it ends. The people from Shonai town claim that this was the original path up the mountain, and the relics certainly would give them credit, but the Shrine and the Tsuruoka side seems basically to want nothing to do with it.

For someone living here in rural Japan, I see this sort of thing happens a lot. Towns located right next to each other hardly communicate on projects of mutual benefit, and they sometimes do things like this to sort of spite each other.

It’s true that there is a lot of history, and they may have very valid reasons to not want to work with one another, but aren’t you past this petty schoolyard stuff? Can’t you see the bigger picture and know that it’s not your town versus the one located next to you, and rather you and that town versus the world?

When you have a problem with someone, or you have spotted something like a mistake or something, take it up with them quietly. Then, talk it through and look for a solution. No need to badmouth one another or try and get the upper hand. Doing so just makes you appear weak, and could have the opposite effect of what you want, especially if it gets in the way of progress for the region.

Rant over.



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

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