International Village, Nojiri-ko (Lake Nojiri), Nagano Prefecture.



1950sAmusements & RecreationsReligious
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“The lake lies at the foot of Mts. Myoko and Kurohime [about 12 mi. north of Nagano], and measures 8.4 mi. in circumference. It provides good fishing for salmon-trout and carp, swimming in summer and skating in winter. Lake Nojiri came into prominence in 1921 through the efforts of the Nojiri Lake Association, which bought land on the lake shore for the establishment of a foreign summer resort.”

Japan: The Official Guide, Japan Travel Bureau, 1951

Lake Nojiri, c. 1955.

Lake Nojiri, c. 1955, looking toward Mount Myoko. Dockage of the International Village [gaijin-mura] can be seen at left.

Lake Nojiri, c. 1930.

Two lake residents at the Gaijin mura (Foreign Village) dock, Lake Nojiri, c. 1930.

“When summer came we took the train through the central part of Japan with its many tunnels to reach what became a beloved Shangrila. Lake Nojiri offered everything you could ask of a vacation spot: a beautiful lake for swimming and sailing, mountains to climb, tennis courts, and even a nine-hole golf course! In addition was the opportunity to worship with and get to know many other Japan missionaries of many nationalities. The children loved it and amused the adults the way they communicated in their common language – Japanese.

“There was a Nojiri Lake Association that had legal ownership of the land. Individual lots were assigned to families and individuals. There was one vote in the annual meeting for each lot. When lot ‘owner’ members were away their cottages were available for renters who paid rent to the owners and residence fees to the association. The income from fees enabled the association to maintain the roads and common facilities, and the activity program.

“… When we first went to Lake Nojiri, the International Village was like an island of affluence in a sea of poverty. But, as the Japanese economy recovered from the war, the scales tipped until we became an island of poverty in a sea of affluence.”

My Three Worlds, by Alden Matthews, 2007

Lake Nojiri, c. 1940. Elevated view of the International Village (left) and Mt. Myoko in the distance.

Lake Nojiri, c. 1940. Elevated view of the International Village (left), its cabins spread out on the hillside under the forest canopy, and Mt. Myoko in the distance.

“Nojiri glories in its lake, which gives it many of the advntages of seaside … Nojiri is the backwoods and proud of it, far in a wild, unknown to public. Its inhabitants return to nature, and enjoy a seasonal submergence.

“The fact is that Nojiri is unsurpassed as a holiday centre for those who wish to pass a few weeks in the midst of unspoiled country, finding their active pleasures in swimming, boating, and hiking. It is a short distance from Kashiwabara station on the Ueno-Naoetsu line, and is thus within a few hours of Tokyo. There is little doubt that if more accommodations could be provided it would be much more populous in the summer than it is at present.”

“Karuizawa and Nojiri”, by E.V. Gatenby, Travel in Japan, Summer 1935

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