Shawn dropped a landmark for Tonarino, a Full region with a distinctly Japanese look and feel. A group design, the region is split into five major parts – not all of which are open to the public. To the south is a square block of a flat island, topped by scrub grass and what appears to be a café, while off to the west are three more fairly regularly shaped islands in a north-to-south line.
The majority of the region, however is given over to a large landmass the rises from east to west, and is home to a small semi-urban setting that sits at the end of a single line of railway track. A wooden bridge connects the little town with southern islands, and on crossing it, I found no evidence that the island and it’s café are not open to the public.
However, given that the westward islands are separated from the main landmass both physically and by the fact the lay of the land largely hides them from view, they would seem to be collectively for private use. Certainly, the middle of the three islands – and the only one that offers a landing point for those making use of the pedal boats available from the western shore of the town – is restricted to Group access only. Given that the north and south islands either side of it are only connected to it and are without any obvious at which to come ashore for those using the pedal boats, there is the suggestion that they are also private. Either way, I opted not to risk trespass.
The eastern side of the main landmass offers a mix of buildings from cement blockhouses with shops on the lower floor to little apartments on the floor above to stores and eateries modelled along more “traditional” lines all split into little groups by a small grid of roads and by the railway line. Sitting among them is space to grow vegetables an fruit although part of this ground is apparently lying fallow under the snow. To the west, between the hills, the ubiquitous school blockhouse that is often found within regions with a modern Japanese theme, squats as it overlooks the pedal boat moorings mentioned above.
The railway line terminates with a station that’s little more than a waiting room with a bus stop neighbouring. On the other side of the track the land that is being cleared for building. A stream tumbles from the hill to the south-west to run parallel with the train line as it emerges from a tunnel under the hill before it eventually turns inland to cross the stream via a trestle bridge. Stone steps also climb the hill to overlook the waterfall and to provide access to a small cemetery.
To the north-east another craggy hill rises, stone steps cut into its face. It is home to the solid presence of an old temple sitting within a small garden, a little refreshment stand lurking just outside the gardens for those feeling hungry after a climb up the steps or a time of prayer in the temple. A (large) step down from this on an out-thrust shoulder of rock is an traditional Japanese walled house. Reached via separate steps, this appears to be linked to the spaces for growing fruit and vegetables, suggesting they may be owned or managed by whoever lives within the house.
Looking careworn and a little tired under its light covering of snow, the setting at Tonarino has a very lived-in feel that offers scope for photographers looking for backdrops for avatar studies or who enjoy landscapes that feature buildings and urban / suburban settings. Places to sit may be few and parts of the region off-limits to most, but these don’t detract from any appreciation of the Tonarino.
- Tonarino (rated Moderate)