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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sailing the Japan Sea

Tagi harbour For the first time in more than a year I went out sailing along the Shimane coast.

We started out at noon in my friend's 20ft yacht from Tagi Harbor, between Oda and Izumo City. Like most of the small harbors that dot the coast, it comprises a massive amount of concrete poured using public money for the benefit of a handful of part-time fishermen.

On each trip we have taken up and down the Shimane coast, we have yet to see another single pleasure boat. I know that down on the Inland Sea there are plenty of yachts, but around here there are only fishing boats.

Iwami Ginzan
Shimane has some fine coastline, but most of it is only visible from the sea. There was a strong and steady onshore wind, so we made good time heading south of west down the coast. The Iwami Ginzan mountains make a distinctive landmark (Photo above). My friend's son was somewhat green around the gills, so we decided to stop for the night in Yunotsu, rather than plow on through the night.

Yunotsu harbour Yunotsu has a fine harbor that is easy to enter. Most of the small harbors have very rocky entrances, which is not a problem for the flat-bottomed plastic rafts that pass for fishing boats in this part of the world, but our boat has a keel, so it can be a little tricky.

Yunotsu Yunotsu became prominent once the silver mines opened up nearby. It became the main supply port for bringing in materials for the mine, and in its heyday had many whorehouses and drinking establishments.
It exists now as a sedate Onsen town, and the only nod to its old character, a Filipina Show Pub, has recently closed down, perhaps due to the governments recent crackdown on Entertainment Visas for Filipinas.
After sunset we spent a couple of hours slowly wandering the narrow streets enjoying the diversity of architectural styles and features in the old buildings of the town while sipping cans of coffee topped up with kahlua.

Pirate Cove
Next morning was overcast and the wind was erratic so we turned on the engine and motored back up the coast staying close to shore to see what could be seen.

Just east of Yunotsu is a stetch of white cliffs with caves, arches, and hidden coves. This area was the hangout of Wako, Japanese pirates.

A little further and we pass by Ou, where a small island in front of the harbor is , according to local legend, the stone boat used by Susano to travel from the Korean peninsular to found the Izumo Culture. The currents along this coast come directly from Korea, and the people in Shimane acknowledge that Korea is where they originated from.

Buy Beautiful hand-made Obi bags.

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