A return to Tonarino in Second Life

Tonarino, February 2021

On February 1st, we dropped in on Tonarino, the Full region held and designed by 秋元のん (n0rik0). At the time, the focus of our visit was the region’s sky platform, Nekomachi Street (see: The cats of Tonarino in Second Life), but I noted we also hopped down to see what had changed within the region’s ground level design since our last visit in December 2019 (as recorded in Tonarino: an oriental curio in Second Life), and I promised to provide an update.

Well, truth be told, first looks tended to suggest not a lot had changed; the majority of the region is still given over to a large landmass in part cut through by the single line of a railway track that terminates abruptly alongside a little station building, while a small stream slices through the bedrock. Around both lies a landscape suggestive of the outskirts of a town somewhere; the kind of place most people only see whilst rapidly passing through with barely a thought for those whole live there.

Tonarino, February 2021

However, further examination revealed to us that things had changed since December 2019 – although obviously I cannot say quite when they changed; and changed enough to provide a reason for further exploration and looking around.

In this, the most noticeable change lay to the north-west. where the land rises in rocky steps to overlook the rest of the region and particularly overshadows the local school.

Tonarino, February 2021

When we visited in 2019, I noted this was the home of a temple sitting within  a small garden area and overlooking a large traditional Japanese house occupying a shoulder of rock below it. Well, the temple is still there, complete with its little refreshment stand for those needing sustenance after the climb up to it or after a period of sustained prayer. However, and if memory serves, it has now descended from the uppermost table of rock upon which it once sat, to occupy the same elevation as once was occupied by the large house.

Instead, the high table of rock that was once home to the temple is now a lookout point with vending machines and seating. Below it, the walled house has also gone, replaced by a group of restaurant stalls sharing a common outdoors space for patrons, who can be entertained by two more of the remarkable juggling cats by 丸角の人 (shiro0822), who also make up the inhabitants of Nekomachi Street up on the sky platform.

Tonarino, February 2021

I admit, I’m not totally convinced about the nature of the food being served in one of the restaurant stalls, given it is being prepared and offered for consumption by red-faced little demons, so the fact the area also has a little shrine of its own sitting within a bamboo fenced enclosure is perhaps handily placed for those wishing to ward of any wicked spirits that may have been delivered to them with their meal! The shrine and its Torii gate also mark the path to where a stone stairway descends the snowy slopes between the little houses that cling to them, offering a further route back to (or from) the lowlands.

Elsewhere are other subtle changes. One of the private islands to the west side of the island has been removed; elements within the building site have changed (although overall progress on whatever is to be built / installed appears to be a little slow!) an there is what appears to be some work to be finished off behind the school, although visitors can still cross the footbridge and visit the café – although I’m not sure if the quizzes there are still being held.

Tonarino, February 2021

What I find particularly engaging with Tonarino is the manner in which it naturally suggests it is a work-in-progress, so to speak, with the excavator and building blocks in a cleared field, etc..  At the same time the careworn look of the buildings and houses give them a lived-in feel that suggests that while they may be less than pristine, they have the comfortable look and feel to those living within the little town.

Certainly Tonarino remains a place with plenty of opportunities for photography under almost any environment settings, and which – again like so many careworn places in the physical world – has little spots of beauty that suddenly leap out at you as you explore. And that very much retains it as a place worth looking at.

Tonarino, February 2021

And for those who wish to see Nekomachi Street’s marvellous cats, just look for the kitty dancing at the mouth of a road tunnel. Pat his head gently and he’ll get you there 🙂 .

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