Friday, May 28, 2010
On May 28th 1905 the Russian ship Irtysh ran aground on the Shimane coast just off the fishing village of Waki (now part of Gotsu).
The villagers took to their boats and helped to successfully save and bring to shore the more than 200 crew and officers.
The Russians were given food and shelter and helped in every way by the mostly poor fishermens families.
Every year, this year on June 13th, Waki celebrates a Russian festival and dignitaries come from Russia to thank the village once again for their kindness.
In the small Waki Community Center is a small museum with photos, documents, items salvaged from the Irtysh, and gifts from Russia.
The story of how the Irtysh came to its end is pretty interesting.
In 1904, without a declaration of war, the Japanese attacked the Russian Far East Fleet in Port Arthur (Manchuria). Comparisons with Pearl Harbor are obvious. So began the Russo-Japanese war.
In a bold move the Czar ordered his Baltic Fleet to sail 18,000 miles, half way round the world, to hook up with the remnants of his Far East Fleet at Vladivostock. The Irtysh was a supply ship attached to the Baltic Fleet.
In the straits between Japan and Korea the Japanese navy engaged the Russians in a great naval battle that has been equated with Trafalgar. Known now as the Battle of Tsushima, the Russians were soundly defeated, and the damaged Irtysh was seen limping away from the battle and the next day ran aground off Waki.