July, 2015

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by Harumi Okochi.
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Karatsu Castle Bay

Sailing to the Goddess

The Bay of Karatsu welcomes the 420 World Championships this July. This bay is called 'Castle Bay' because Karatsu Castle is there. A beautiful bay welcomes sailors from the world with favorable waves and winds.

 In this bay, Yoshiteru Egashira has trained himself for more than 50 years as a sailor. This time he and his friends sailed to Okinoshima Island. This secret island itself has a deity which is one of the three Goddesses of Munakata Taisha (Shrine).
You will enjoy his report of this rare journey.
Before going aboard, please look at Munakata Taisha at Wikipedia to know who are the Goddesses.

Sailing to the Goddess
Yoshiteru Egashira

On the 28th of April. 2015, we set sail into the Genkai Sea

Eboshijima, 25km from Karatsu
Eboshijima is 48m high, and the lighthouse is 15m.
The light from this tower covers 20 nautical miles
The island is 800meters in circumference.

Seen from the east

Oronoshima 109m high 50km from Karatsu
200 people live on this island.


Our crew of "Misato-go" and "Hatenko-go"
  The monument tells the history of this small island, which was the place of exile at the Edo Period
 There was no shop on this island, nor eating place. We bought fish from a fisherman for dinner.
  Army's fort at the time of World War Ⅱ. 300 soldiers were stationed here.
Gunpowder storage 4m high to the ceiling

  We stayed overnight at this Oronoshima.
Next morning we headed north to the Island of Goddess, Okinoshima.

 Okinoshima seen from the south. 243m high. Population is only 1, who is the priest of the shrine.
At 4:00pm on April 28th.

 The existence of this island was a secret for long. To speak about this island was prohibited.
Okinoshima, seen from the east
We put the jib down, and sailed into the bay from the south.
I fancied that the Goddess Tagori-hime is waving her sleeves at the mountainside.
At the left end of the photo, you will see a lighthouse.
  The announcement tells that this island itself is the Goddess, and it is strictly prohibited to take away even a grass or a tree branch, except the holy water. The people who want to land on this island should purify themselves in the sea-water before landing.
And women are never allowed to step into this island. Every tenth day, another priest takes over the duty.

 This monument tells the name of the shrine, Okitsu-gu

Sign board tells about the protection of rare species birds and prohibition of bringing in animals
Purification sea and Torii Gate at the entrance to the shrine.

I (left) and Kajiyama are purifying ourselves.

I imagined that the ships were tied to this stone in the old days when delegation was sent to China.
From the left: Maeda, Kimura, Egashira, Kajiyama.
The Shrine

 We climbed the well- swept path for 30 minutes to the Shrine.

Underneath the rock was the original praying site of old days.

  Around this place, numerous relics from the old age were found.They were moved to the Munakata Taisha and reserved. More than 80,000 items were designated as National treasures.

 Our yacht in the bay of Okinoshima

The mast is 12 meters above the sea.

  The next morning, we left this Island of Goddess, and dropping in Ashibe, Iki Island, we enjoyed hot spring.

Me with the Torii Gate.

 Mr. Ryuta Tominaga, the owner of Misato-go, is 80 years old. He IS younger than me, who is 70. Other members are almost same. We are Youngs-at Heart.
Captain Ryuta Tominaga (80)
Crew Kuniomi Maeda (68)
Yoshiteru Egashira (70)

Captain Hisashi Morooka(68)
Crew Tokuji Kajiyama(68)
Toshiyuki Eguchi(66)
Shinichiro Kimura(68)

                                                 Thank you for your company on the journey to the Goddess.

Thank you, Yoshiteru-san. When is your next sailing? Why don't you take me with you as the Figurehead of your sailboat?
Well, generous readers, let's give big hands to this 'Young Old man of the Sea'.

Thank you very much for joining me.
I hope you will visit us again next month.

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