"A former guard house and 'god of marine safety'."

“A former guard house and ‘god of marine safety’.”

There are harbors and beaches named “Tomari” throughout Japan. Tomari means a wharf, i.e., a good natural harbor. The Utatsu district also has places named Tomarihama and Tomarizaki.

In the Edo Period (1603-1867), a guard house for foreign ships existed at the site of the small white Utatsuzaki Lighthouse. When Japan was closed to foreigners in the seventeenth century, the guard house was established as a post for the Coast Guard.

In Edo Period, a merchant named Yoheiji Takahashi achieved great success in the Utatsu area. He shipped marine products, etc. from Utatsu to Edo (present Tokyo), and he also frequented the pleasure quarters of Yoshiwara and introduced the latest trends in Edo to the Utatsu area. They say that Yoheiji introduced “Furudamai,” a dance to pray for rain. The dance imitates a toad (“furuda” means toad in the local dialect) and is from one scene of a popular kabuki play of the time.

The Osaki Shrine is located toward the tip of the Tomarizaki Peninsula. The approach to the shrine is covered with evergreens, such as pine trees and sakaki trees, conveying an atmosphere of a warmer climate. Its main shrine has a beautiful red-tiled, hipped roof, giving the shrine an exotic quality. The shrine deifies the god of marine safety. When fishermen and merchants on trading ships sailed out to sea, they worshipped the shrine from the sea by joining their hands in prayer.

From the tip of the peninsula, you can distinctly see Kinkasan Island and Enoshima Island. The sea glitters against a background of the mountains such as Mt. Horowa located across Shizugawa Bay. The contrast of green pines and whitecaps that wash the rocks is picture-perfect.

At a corner of Minamisanriku, there is a place where you can feel the history of the townspeople’s strong connection to the sea.