Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Koshiki Island Exploration

kyushu outlineGetting back from a big holiday, it is always difficult to readjust to our circumstances. We love living in Amakusa, but we know this place really well; we are always prepared for what awaits us around the corner. Of course there are still surprises, but nothing like the thrill of being some place completely unfamiliar and new. Not wanting the excitement of our big summer trip to fade, we went again this weekend to an unexplored set of islands near Amakusa. These islands are known as “Koshiki” which means “rice cooker” after a rock which apparently resembles just that.
Getting to these islands was not an easy matter, first we had to take the ferry from Ushibuka to Nagashima, drive south to Kushikino City, and then take a very long ferry ride to the islands. Not only was it a long journey, but a fairly pricey one; that is to say, money well spent! What an amazing place. We loved it; beautiful clean sea, lots of fish, spectacular scenery, steep mountains, friendly people and perhaps best of all very beautiful rock.


kabedati4, originally uploaded by vibromama.
Starting at 3:30 on the lower island in Nagahama port we headed south mesmerized by the wild coastline. Paddling with our fishing rods out and lures trolling behind us, Rik was able to catch a nice long silver fish for a delicious addition to our dinner. Rounding Cape Tsurikake we beached on a rather gravely beach for the night. Camping again at long last! Once one adjusts to living outside, sleeping indoors is unbearably stuffy!


The following day was one long day of exploration and pleasure. If I could put this day on auto replay and just do this over and over I would be happy for quite some time. We spent a lot of time exploring every cave and inlet along the west coast of this island.


ookabu_bldr, originally uploaded by vibromama.
The red sandstone rock was fused solidly in 50-200meter high cliffs of all shapes and character. Of course we couldn’t resist the temptation and did a little climbing. As we expected the rock was solid, featured and full of character. We are excited to return with our climbing shoes to climb some of these walls and pinnacles.


napoleon2, originally uploaded by vibromama.
This famous rock originally called “Chuuse” and now better known as “Napoleon Rock” for its obvious resemblance was the most eye-catching landmark of the island.
Near the Napoleon rock we went into the harbor of a small village. There we were greeted, offered tea and snacks by an 84 year old, agile local man running the village store. He explained a little about the history of the island and the present day problems and concerns. Due to the depopulation of most rural areas in Japan, their local elementary school with only 12 children is being threatened with closure. Also due to the large concrete walls and barrage of tetra pods lining their once modest harbor, when typhoons hit the west coast, they smash against these walls showering the village in salty rain. Here we heard the reoccurring tragedy of local construction projects being decided by people out of touch with the environment and the needs of the people.


fish, originally uploaded by vibromama.
After our refreshments we were urged by the locals to go snorkeling. Under the calm surface of the sea was a thriving ecosystem with many large fish swimming merrily about. Despite “Koshiki Island” being famous for fishing, during our 3 days we only saw 3 people fishing on rocks.


kanoko, originally uploaded by vibromama.
That night we camped on a seemingly peaceful beach, only to find that after dark the waters between the lower island and the upper islands became a favorite spot for squid fishing. The boats with their bright lights and radios were busy until early morning.
After a fitful sleep we woke up and hoofed the last 10kms, passing under one of the landmark bridges and arriving at the ferry port in time for the 8 o’clock ferry. We eventually arrived back in Hondo at 2pm just in time for our 3 o’clock start at work.

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