October 10, 1998: "Beef-eating Loudness Contest"by Mie

It is slightly cloudy and cold this morning. We left home at past nine to join the Contest as reporters. We passed around downtown Yufuin and headed to an open field near Sagiridai viewpoint. This is Yufuin, a small beautiful village in the valley shrouded with slight morning fog.

Driving up from Yufuin downtown through the winding road on the green slope, we arrived at the site called "Nono-kusa," literally meaning "Wild grassy field." Here and there are wild chrysanthemum in slight violet color and Japanese pampas grass swinging in the cool breeze. A beautiful autumn landscape of Yufuin highland.

We parked at a grass-cut temporary parking lot already filled with many cars including out-of-Oita-prefecture number. Mt. Yufu is soaring high in the sky with its rocky twin peaks.

All staffs wear such "happi" coat like this that reads "The originator: The 24th Beef-eating Loudness Contest."

Mr. Taro Nakaya of famous Kamenoi Besso Hotel in Yufuin hot spring. He has been working from early in the morning for preparation of the Contest site. "Yes, this is my late breakfast." He smiled cheerfully picking up a slice of sandwich, a nice guy indeed. His "happi" is of Yufuin Hot Spring Hotel Guild.

People buy entrance tickets to join the Contest. They have been already in a long line for the tickets, which will be accepted from nine o'clock

Mr. Masafumi Ono, the Chairman of Sansuikan Hotel, is looking around for the site. A small wooden stand surrounded with Japanese pampas grass is provided in the site. Competitors will stand on it and shout.

We also stood on the stand just for adjusting a microphone level and camera angle. I wear a red hat I got at the entrance.

Here some staffs are busy for boiling the Yufuin brand beef stew, which has already been boiled for more than 12 hours. It is really a big pot, indeed. I cannot resist the mouth-watering smell rising from the pot. I want to taste it as soon as possible.

The "commander" of the stew pot, Mr. Tokimatsu of atelier Toki, finally started to arrange bowls for stew. The appetizing smell is getting stronger.
What is concerned in recent Japan, there was a crime to add arsenic poison into a curried pot and killed four people in Wakayama prefecture at a local festival. Therefore, Yufuin people have been watching the stew pot all over the night in turns. Mrs. Izumi Kuwano, a charming lady of Tamanoyu Hotel, was among them. She sent a message to Yufuin mailing list in advance:
At last, we will have the 24th "Yufuin Beef-eating and Loudness Contest" tomorrow. I am now enjoying a wonderful starlit sky. I believe it will be fine tomorrow. What has been the most worried about is the weather, but now I am relieved. Yes, I have just come back from the eve held in the site. The eve was also great. We have prepared beef stew for tomorrow, listened to wonderful music, and chatting pleasantly under the Milky Way that looks quite different from that of viewing from the valley.

All the staffs come up to here to keep watching the stew pod by turns all through the night, yes, even in this moment. It is a little bit cold, but aged people in Yufuin are very vigorous. My father also went up to the site 30 minutes ago with full of spirit. He has been involved in the local-made event more than 23 years. Joining the event makes me very pleasant, like Music Festival and Movie Festival regularly held here in Yufuin for 24 years.

Now, our proud beef stew is ready for serve. Please enjoy it tomorrow, along with Yufuin-brand beef and the Loudness Contest, of course! I will report about the event tomorrow.

Izumi Kuwano

This is an another backstage personnel who is in charge of supplying drinking water, as here is no natural water in the hillside.
The Contest dates back to 1973 when then notorious "Japanese Archipelago Restructure Project" was raging all around the country. Here in Yufuin, many developers came with money in their suite case to buy land for constructing cheap facilities like leisure land or golf course. Yufuin people stood against the destruction of irreplaceable nature of their hometown. They loved small streams running through rice paddies, faint glowing of fireflies under the backyard bamboo bush, and clear pitch-dark sky to watch comets or the Milky Way, instead.

Some of the opinion leaders proposed an unusual idea to protect surrounding grassy hills: "One person one cow" campaign. Any person can become a shareholder of a cow by paying some amount of money and local farmers in the agricultural cooperative actually raise the cattle. The shareholders get some beef annually from the cooperative. According to Japanese law, it is almost impossible to turn agricultural lands including pasture into golf course or leisure land.

Another new idea was proposed to re-vitalize Yufuin: Today, many people look like to feel frustration in daily life, so, how refreshing it would be to "shout" in loud voice in the open field and at the same time to enjoy delicious food under the blue sky! The idea finally materialized In the form of annual event called "Yufuin Beef-eating Loudness Contest."

What are those concrete blocks? Yes, they turn into instant barbecue ovens.

Blacksmiths? No, they are working dynamically to make red charcoals and distribute them to each oven in the field.

Here Mr. Yoneta, general secretariat of Yufuin sightseeing society, accepts the visitors. Mrs. Izumi Kuwano of Tamanoyu Hotel, stands by.

All visitors find their favorite oven site. Three staffs welcome them: from the left, Mr. Kentaro Nakaya (the chairman of Yufuin Sightseeing Society), Mr. Kunpei Mizoguchi (vice president of Yufuin Chamber of Commerce), and Mr. Yoshimura, the mayor of the town.

Visitors exchange such beautiful Yufuin beef with entrance tickets and....

rice balls made from Yufuin rice grown under fresh water of Yufuin. They also get some vegetables and chop sticks, now everything is ready.

Some impatient visitors have already opened can beer and toasted. On the mesh are roasting juicy beef releasing appetizing smell. The sky has turned clear blue sky and Mt. Yufu reveals its elegant slope.

People are enjoying barbecue by their own way.

The opening ceremony of the Contest. Mr. Kentaro Nakaya makes welcome message saying all the people in Yufuin wish to preserve the nature of Yufuin from now on.

Now, the Contest started. The challengers go up to the stand and shout to a microphone surrounded by Japanese pampas grass. A noise meter records the loudness.

Many reporters flock in front of the shouting stand. I am among them taking digital video as a reporter of COARA.

Dad and kid shout together.

Adults and kids did their best, now waiting for the result. Judges are busy in rating the loudness and to choose the winner.

During the rating, a lottery is underway. The prize includes Yufuin natural water, Yufuin brand sake, gift set, and homemade jam.

Now the announcement of the winner: Ms. Yamauchi from Oita city. She shouted as "All of you, listen to my shouting!" Mayor Yoshimura presented the prize and a trophy to the winner.

In the kids' group, the winner is Ryota who shouted, "I am now in the training in a mountain village leaving from parents!" Sorry I missed his picture.
The rating criteria of a "shout" are not only its loudness, but also the content of what was shouted. In adult group, some of the shouting reflected today's social conditions like: "I came down to Kyushu for getting married" (Refreshing prize), "I'll be here next year!" (Special prize), or "Don't put washing detergent into juice cans!" "I will make you take out an insurance policy!." The final winner shouted, "Blow out divine wind of business recovery!"

In the kids' group, a kid got the special prize by shouting "Yufuin's meet is delicious, but the air is sweet as well!" The loudness prize was given to a boy who shouted, "Today's beef was very juicy!" Well even kids are brave enough to shout on the stand. I may hesitate to shout like that.

As the kid prizewinner shouted, I enjoyed juicy beef and refreshing air of Yufuin plateau. Thank you very much to all staffs in Yufuin who supported the Contest.

Mie Home