July 19, 2013

Mountain-Dwelling Japanese Have One Word For Kids Sled. And Box.


I don't know why, I guess it's because I didn't watch enough [any] Grizzly Adams when I was a boy, but I just assumed that in the olden times in the mountains of Japan, when the snow fell thick and heavy, people just hunkered down inside their massive farmhouses, under their steep, thatched roofs, whittling around the hearth, and hoping that their stash of rice didn't run before spring.


Yeah, no. At the Hida no Sato, a culture park outside Takayama where several dozen historic rural homes have been preserved, I found out that winter was one of the busiest times of the year. It was when the folks cut and hauled trees. Because they could move trees across the snow with sleds. Specialized sleds and sledges for everything. Sleds sleds, sleds. Each with a different name.


And they'd drag their kids around in these little sleds, called 箱, hako, which just means box. It's like they're too busy all winter to even come up with a separate word for it.


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