Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Himeshima (Princess Island)

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This is the draincover for the island of Himeshima, a small island less than seven square kilometers in size with a population around 2,700. It is located just off the coast of the Kunisaki peninsular in Oita, northern Kyushu.

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This is what the island looked like a few weeks ago as we passed by on the ferry from Tokuyama to Kunisaki. It is a "stepping stone" on the main sea route that connected the capital in Yamato with Kyushu and then the mainland of Asia. The other "stepping stone" is Iwaishima just visible on the left of the photo.
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And this is what the island looked like a few years ago when we visited the island in a small yacht.

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The name Himeshima means Princess Island and refers to an ancient legend concerning a princess who transformed from a white stone. To escape the amorous advances of a prince of Kaya (a Korean kingdom) she fled to Japan and arrived at the island where she in now enshrined at the local shrine. Another version of the legend has her arriving at Naniwa (Osaka) where she was enshrined as the kami of Sumiyoshi Shrine. Naniwa and Himeshima are both on the route connecting Yamato with Asia.

The prince, Tsunuga Arashito, came to Japan to find her, passing through Izumo before reaching the court at Yamato where he forged diplomatic relations between Kaya and Yamato.

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The island is known for farming Tiger Prawns, though as this pile of pots shows, a lot of octopus are caught.

There is an interesting article on the islands politics here

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