Saturday, July 23, 2005


turumi, originally uploaded by vibromama.
Rounding the cliffy Tsurumi Cape, the easternmost point of Kyushu, we arrived at a civilized place for the first time since Fukashima: the tiny hamlet of Shimokajiyose. A couple of families were enjoying an uncrowded seaside picnic, relaxing in their tents on the verge of the tiny artificial beach. No other tourists had made it to this end of a long, dead-end road. Some interesting-looking buildings a little higher aroused our curiosity; wandering up, we happened on a lighthouse museum. The enthusiastic curator invited us in immediately and gave us an excellent explanation of all the exhibits, constantly making sure we understood everything he said. The building housing the museum was more than 100 years old, and had been designed by a German architect in semi-Japanese style. It looked absolutely no worse for wear. Proper lighthouses had not been introduced to Japan until the Meiji Era (Japan’s Industrial Revolution) in the mid- to late 1800’s, and the present building had been erected to manage the operations of the Mizunoko lighthouse, which was hazily visible in the distance half-way to Shikoku on a tiny storm-beaten rock in the middle of the Bungo Strait, a busy shipping route to the many large ports further north. Among the exhibits was a collection of more than 500 stuffed migratory birds that had been found dead on the rock over the years by an industrious lighthouse keeper, having collided with the lighthouse in the night. One certainly cannot begrudge a lonely lighthouse keeper such a hobby, and neither could we begrudge the friendly curator his enthusiasm: we wondered to ourselves if we were his only visitors that day.


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