Shaso (storage house) in Ohama
Ohama is located on the southwestern tip of Osaki Shimojima Island on the
Geiyo Islands in the Inland Sea. Ohama is known for its citrus fruit production
and the ikari net fishing method using abi, or red-throated divers.
During the Edo period, the people of Ohama supported themselves by growing
rice. Their annual rice production amounted to well over 170 koku (1 koku= 180
liters). They also did some fishing, logging and shipping, but only when their
other work permitted.
Around the end of the Edo period, a famine hit Japan, including the Hiroshima
region. To prevent a recurrence of the disaster, the Hiroshima-han encouraged
people to build storage houses to maintain food stocks. The han enacted
a storage house law in 1779.
When the provincial law went into effect, the people of Ohama built the
Ohama Storage House in the village of Toyota-gun. The storage house is 5.5
meters by 3.6 meters, about 20 square meters. Mortar architectural style was
used in the building. The floor was made of wood, with pillars of chestnut and
beams of camphor trees. The roof was fully covered with tiles. Buildings with
roofs fully covered with tiles are a rare sight on the islands of the Inland Sea.
For this reason, people in Ohama have treasured this building since the old days.
The storage house in Ohama stands as it was when it was built (Photograph taken circa 1994)
The Japanese government has designated Ohama, Toyoshima and Itsukishima of Toyohama-cho as natural monuments, because migratory birds called abi (also called ikari) come and spend time in these places. The famous fishing method, ikari net fishing, employs the birds' habit of attacking sand eels. These fleeing sand eels in turn lure sea bream and sea bass into nets which are set deep in the sea. This fishing method has become famous as a symbol of harmonious coexistence between humans and birds. Hiroshima Prefecture has designated the abi as a prefectural bird.