Madarashima liner
leaving Yobuko Port
(photo from the boat company)

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
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January, 2011

An island in Genkai Sea

Happy new year!
I hope this finds you very happy and in good health.
This time, I would like to introduce you another beautiful island in the Genkai sea.
It is Madarashima, in the west sea of Karatsu. I have long wanted to go and see the island, but I can not go because I easily get sick on a boat. It takes 40 minutes to and from the nearest port, so I have to give it up. Instead, I asked one of my friends, Mr. Kunihisa Matsuo, who has a souvenir shop on top of Mt. Kagami, and who is very good at taking photos of the islands, to go and take pictures of Madarashima.
Please enjoy his photos and explanations.
I hope someday you can visit this island with me.
written by Kunihisa Matsuo
photos & map also

Madarashima is seen beyond
the range from the top of Kagamiyama

Approaching Madarashima

The church

Madarashima is the biggest island in Saga Prefecture, and it is in the Genkai Sea, between Kyushu Japan and the Korean Peninsula. It has long been transmitted that horse came to Japan from the Asia Continent first through this island, though documents do not exist about this. So, the name Madara means 'horse came over';. In Edo period, this island was the ranch of horses owned by the feudal clan. About 500 people live here now, in two zones. One is the zone by the sea of which the center is a Buddhism temple, and another is the zone on the hillside, where a Catholic church gathers congregation
A boat goes to and fro in 45 minutes.This is my first short trip throughout the whole island.

Inside the church
The congregation of this church is the descendants of those Catholic believers who came over here from Kurosaki, Nagasaki, about 1600, because at that time Christianity was prohibited. Priests could not come here, so the believers secretly visited Nagasaki. The late Shusaku Endo wrote in his book "Chinmoku"(silence) about these "Kakure-kirisitan" (hiding believers), and those believers in islands of Nagasaki moved to this island to avoid the danger of arrest, torture and death.
In this island, there was a Catholic school between 1946 and 1959, and many children graduated from this school.

Iki Channel seen from the top of the island.

The height of the peak of this island is Bansho-no-Tsuji, 237.9m high. It takes 40 minutes on foot from the port. At the end of Edo period, here was a watch tower against Kurofune (black ships=western boats to threaten Japan to open its window to the west.) and against Russian warships at the time of the Pacific War. I am sorry that now trees have flourished and they prevent the view.

Bansho-no-Tsuji watch tower
Shioya-no-Ura seen from Bansho-no-Tsuji There remains a station of triangulation,
and a latitude mark which Japanese Imperial Navy
made in Meiji Era.


Kannondo (Temple for the Goddess of Mercy)

Near the port, an old temple for Kannon remains. Kannon is the goddess of Mercy in Buddhism. People near here goes to pray everyday. Especially women are devoted believers. Thanks to the Kannon-sama, we women are safe without sickness, and childbirth is safe, said a woman I met here. Here we see photos of two benefactor ladies. These ladies donated much and saved the life of the island when about 100 years ago, most of the houses were burned down in a stormy winds. They were a nun in Osaka, and a wife of a rich merchant in Osaka. Islanders will never forget them. 
With the donation of Lady Hanako, a well was dug and used for a long time.This monument says here was the well of Lady Hanako.

Inside the Kannon Temple

The school

Now, Madara Primary and Middle School is near the port. Almost 50 students go there. This school is the center of the island life, where at every event islanders gather. You can reach the latest island news through this school's web site.

leaving Madarashima

map by K. Matsuo
A picture of Edo Period shows there was a ranch in Madarashima.

Well, did you enjoy the island?
There are fishing spots of abundant fish around the island.
Shall we go together?

Thank you, Mr. Matsuo, and thank you readers. I hope to see you again next month.

Thank you very much for visiting this page.
I hope you will return next month.
Yours, Harumi Okochi
Proprietress of

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