The ‘Pharos’ of Ise Shima

It is winter (Christmas/New Year) holidays here, and not many (read as ‘no one’) is around in the lab.  Being in the lab alone, with not much work to do, and all the steel and black instrument cluster staring at you, is not a pleasant experience. Well, you always have the internet (and all the ‘social sites’) to fall back on; but I guess, being holidays has made a slump in the number of people showing up on book and on +.  Last Friday saw a peak in the boredom factor, and the questioning gleam from the instrument panel right next to me was so harsh that I started feeling that, even the lab was asking me; ‘why the hell are you here?’

The white board

The white board (a part of it)

Now, I don’t remember, if I’ve talked about it before, well, anyway here it is.. I have this huge white board hanging next to my desk, in the lab, which acts as a message board + a drawing board among many other things; and I’ve hijacked a part of this board with my own stick-it-on posts, where I’ve written names of all the places that I would love to visit, when time favours it.  Every time I come across a place, that interest me, the name goes on the board, and the list has been growing ever since I landed in Japan.

Back to Friday-the last;… I was sitting at my desk, staring at nothing in particular, and this list on the white board came into focus.. Decisions were made in the snap of a second.. I was going on a drive.. and not much time was wasted on deciding where.. the forecast for Saturday looked promising too..

Saturday, dawned; true to the forecast, bright, sunny and warm: perfect for a drive.  Left home at around 10:30 am, stopped at ministop and stocked up on coffee, snacks and water; another stop at the gas station, and I was off.. driving south.. Ise Shima (伊勢志摩) the destination.  The drive was good, all the way south on Route 23, to Ise-jingu (伊勢神宮), and then on to Route 32 though the mountains to the cliffs of Daio (大王).

Reached Daiozaki, a little past noon, found a nice place to park the car near the harbor, and started exploration on foot.  Walked around the harbor for some time, then went up the cliffs to Nakiri Shrine.  The place was super isolated, and I was the only person around…

Hitotsume & the giant straw sandal

Hitotsume & the giant straw sandal

Okay, I should add the myth about this place now, (for it is the story that makes the place). Long, long ago, there lived a one-eyed giant, called Hitotsume (一つ目).  He was very fearsome, and did lots of evil deeds, and was always a big problem for the villagers around.  He used to churn up the ocean, with his legs, making huge waves, that would run down the lands, and wash off all the crops; he would come into the land and kidnap the village girls. Fed up with the giant and all his evil deeds, the villagers seek advice from a wise monk called Dandara; who advised the villagers to make a huge straw sandal and float it out into the sea.  The villagers followed the advice.  Hitotsume found a huge straw sandal floating towards him, and thought that there was  much bigger giant than him, living in the village.  Scared, Hitotsume stopped all his evil doings.   Even to this day, the tradition of floating the sandal is performed every September.. check here for more information on the festival. (and yeah you guessed it right, I have marked my calendars and will try to make it to the event this year.)

Further exploration led me to a clearing on the cliffs, with a small viewing platform.  The view of the Daio Cape, from there was amazing… (click here for panorama)

After taking pictures, I walked back to the Shrine, and found this narrow path which led me to the lighthouse…

“The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
And on its outer point, some miles away,
The Lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day

Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base,
A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
In the white lip and tremor of the face…”

…………..The Lighthouse, H. W. Longfellow

Daiozaki-todai (大王埼灯台), fondly called the dai-chan, is a small lighthouse, with a round cross-section (said to be the first cylindrical lighthouse on this coast line), sits (or should I say stands) gracefully on the top of the cliff.  The lighthouse is still functional, (though the newly built radio station and control tower nearby might be seeing more of the action), and is open to the public.  A small fee of 200 yen is charged here.  A small but beautiful and informative museum is housed inside.  The live demonstration of the lamp and lens systems of the lighthouse was interesting.  After spending some time in the museum, I went up the lighthouse.  A small drizzle of a rain and big winds greeted me on the top; but that didn’t stop me from walking around and clicking pictures.  The view from the top was BEAUTIFUL. (check panorama here)

Photo 29-12-12 14 32 04

Story time again… Daiozaki is the southeastern tip of the Ise peninsula, and runs into the sea, between the Ensyu and the Kumano Seas.  The sea at this part is so rough that, it was said, the ship owners could not hold the navigators guilty for a ship wreck on these shores.  Many ship wrecks happened on these shores, and petition after petition was filed for the construction of a lighthouse at Daiozaki.  In 1917, ‘Otowa’ (音羽); considered, the pride of the Japan navy crashed onto the Daio rocks and wrecked.  This accelerated the move to build the lighthouse.  But in 1923, the Great Kanto earthquake, damaged many lighthouses, and restoration works were given priority over building new lighthouses.  Later in 1927 the lighthouse was completed, and lit for the first time.  Though the second world war destroyed the lamp system of the lighthouse, the building structure was left unharmed.

Photo 29-12-12 14 33 59

After spending a good part of an hour around the lighthouse, and the small rocky beach, I walked back to the car.  At the museum, I had found that there was other lighthouses around, and one of them the Anorisaki lighthouse was worth a visit.

“…Not one alone; from each projecting cape
And perilous reef along the ocean’s verge,
Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape,
Holding its lantern o’er the restless surge…”

…………..The Lighthouse, H. W. Longfellow

The maps app on the phone told that this would be a small detour on the way back.. so, that’s where I went next.  If Daiozaki was isolated, Anorisaki was super isolated.  The rocky cliffs where more fierce-looking, and the waves were much bigger and the white spray of the waves, being broken by the huge cliffs was more spectacular.

Anorisaki Lighthouse

Anorisaki Lighthouse

This place again has a small museum, but was closed for the day.  The lighthouse was also closed.  But the view from the cliffs was amazing. I spent another hour here, walking around the small trails over the cliffs, and exploring. Every trail led me to a new spot on the cliff, with a view much better than the one before. Left the place when it started getting dark, and my small point and shoot, won’t take any more pictures. (check panorama here)

Photo 29-12-12 15 48 45

(click on images for larger view)

“…A new Prometheus, chained upon the rock,
Still grasping in his hand the fire of Jove,
It does not hear the cry, nor heed the shock,
But hails the mariner with words of love.

“Sail on!” it says, “sail on, ye stately ships!
And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse,
Be yours to bring man nearer unto man!”…”

…………..The Lighthouse, H. W. Longfellow


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