Friday, October 23, 2009

Inland seas 内海

The eastern side of Amakusa is characterized by inland seas with small rounded islands covered with lush vegetation. The islands act as a natural wind barrier leaving the water glass smooth on the leeward side. There is a slight similarity to the landscape in Canada's Northern Ontario, where lakes are dotted with small islands.

This interesting 22km tour was made possible by spotting a car at the destination point (Tate Beach).  It weaves a path between small uninhabited islands; landing on any of these is convenient since the shorelines are gentle.  The final 5km crossing of Hachiman Strait rounds out the trip.  The strait is a bit tricky due to rather strong currents and the shipping route - the latter requires an alert approach due to the nearby turning points and because the ships tend to shortcut the official route.  We encountered the freighter, or rather it encountered us, almost a kilometer off route.
A ruined house on stilts in the sea.  It used to be a fisherman's home; an art film (Monshen) was even shot here just before the roof caved in. At low tide, the sea recedes to reveal a small island. Yet this unique and scenic place is destined for a pathetic ending. Elsewhere in the world, it would probably be turned into a restaurant or some such tourist trap, but in Japan, I guess people would rather go to Disney World letting most of the true, fragile beauty of their heritage go to waste.

Heading toward Kuroshima, we pass by the aptly named "Hadaka-se", which means 'naked rocks' in Japanese. Crowning the rocks is a beautiful banyan tree, already leafless in this dry autumn season.

Beginning the final traverse (Hachinoshima, the northernmost point of Kagoshima Prefecture, is in the background).  The ever-present tidal currents have kicked up a bit of chop against the autumn breeze.


No day would be complete without a little excitement. The crossing of the Hachiman is only a mere 5km, but it contains a moderately busy shipping route. As we left Hachino-shima we first had to dodge an onslaught of speed boats, each passing close, perhaps to check us out. Next in the far distance I made out a miniscule white rectangle, which soon grew larger and larger, until we were looking at a freight ship heading straight for us. Perhaps buffeted by the currents, it kept weaving left and right, oblivious to our presence.  It was really hard to decide which way to go to effect an escape, and we changed tactics twice in the final ten minutes. In the end, the ship passed in front of us, but still nearly 1km short of the shipping route proper. We arrived at Tate Beach safely if a little frazzled.  By the way, that's not a giant squid attacking Rick, it's a piece driftwood he is hauling home for the aquarium.  Giant squids are rare in these parts.




  • You had to have an extra person along - who took the pics of you two?

    I guess the next storm will finish off that fisherman's house. Tough.

    By Anonymous yerolman, at 3:05 am  

  • キャプテン

    キャプテンはみんなを安全に連れていくという責任を負っているので、ほんと精神的に大変だと思います。 いつもありがとう!

     おもしろ~い。 ほんとイカの手(足?)に見えるね。

    By Blogger kazumi, at 9:20 am  

  • Thanks for the comments. Indeed there were 4 of us on this tour. We are always looking for more friends to share our experiences with. If you are interested in joining us, drop us a comment.

    By Blogger Leanne and Rik Brezina, at 9:33 am  

  • hi dad. I finally got it that you're the old man! ha ha. thanks for leaving a comment.

    By Blogger Leanne and Rik Brezina, at 10:42 am  

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