The map of Wakayama Prefecture shows that it accounts for most of Kii Peninsula
sticking out into the Pacific Ocean. The upper area surrounded by Osaka,
Nara and Mie Prefectures is largely occupied by deep-green mountains, so-called
the Kii Mountains.
The southern end of this peninsula and also of Honshu Island facing the
Pacific Ocean is Cape Shio-no-misaki. It is right under the town Kushimoto
known well by the old folk song Kushimoto-bushi. It lies on the coordinate
axis inevitable for the news during the typhoon season together with Cape
Ashizuri and Cape Muroto in Shikoku. Around there it is mild throughout
the seasons with an atmosphere of the south. The grassland, Bohro-no-shiba,
is peaceful toward the sheer cliff, which, on the contrary, makes you feel
weak at the knees for fear.
Near the signboard "The Southernmost Point of Honshu Island, the marble
monument speaks the following to the sea.
We admire the previous generations who were from Kushimoto town and the
surrounding areas, and worked for collecting pearls and pearl oysters with
the people in the islands, around the Australian waters from 1878 to 1941.
Accordingly we build this monument honoring their outstanding achievement
to have contributed to the promotion and development of the pearl industry
in this sea area, and will hand down their contribution forever. (the end
Lucky day of September, 1998
of Building the Honor Monument
Australia in the Southern Hemisphere, then under the name of the principle
of White Supremacism, was strongly persecuting and removing the native
inhabitants, and also excluding immigrants of non-white people from Asia.
During those days, from the beginning of Meiji Era (about 1870s) until
the outbreak of Pacific War (1941), fishermen around Nanki-kumano of southern
Wakayama Prefecture went far down to the Arafura Sea, the coastal waters
of northern Australia.
It was rare for them to land on the continent, but they were anchored at
Thursday Island, a small island near there and were taken care of by local
people staying at a simple lodge. They got the supply of food and fuel
mostly there. Ryotaro Shiba, a famous writer, refers to it in the novel
"Evening Party at Thursday Island."
- - - - - - - - -
While the sea area west of Cape Shio-no-misaki is known as "the Sea
of Kareki", the east side is called "the Sea of Kumano",
worth watching both the views with Kuroshio or the Black Stream swelling
and the scenery along the seashore.
From JR Kushimoto Station, the starting point of the bus route to the Cape,
heading for the east along the Sea of Kumano by a local train, Hashiguiiwa
Rocks immediately come into your view with the Island of Kii-oshima behind
Then the nearest stations to the sight spots line up, like Taiji of whales,
Yukawa of a spa, Katsuura of a tuna fishing port, Nachi of Nachi Falls,
Nachi Grand shrine and Seigantoji Temple. Beyond Nachi after 2 stops, the
local train stops at Miwasaki Station, unmanned, before Shingu Station,
totally about in one hour.
Miwasaki in Shingu City. This town is the hometown of Kyozo Wozumi, a seaman.
It was Miwasaki village of Higashi-muro District, Wakayama Prefecture at
that time, which is the main stage of this story.
Is this village nameless? Rather, its name appears, tracing the ancient
In the old poem collection, Manyoshu, edited 1300 years ago in Nara Period
(8th century), the following waka poem can be seen.
|苦しくも 降りくる雨か 神が崎
|It is raining very hard here around Miwasaki.
There seem no houses anywhere as far as
my eye can see over Sano Village.
Miwasaki, then a poor village, near the southernmost of Kii Peninsula just
between mountains and the Sea of Kumano. It was still a remote village
like those old days, when Kyozo Wozumi was born.
Kyozo was born in autumn of Meiji 33 (1900) as the oldest son of a fisher
family. Though his father was sickly, seven children followed him one after
He went to an elementary school only a little, and began working on a small
boat in the sea under his father's direction. He was eager to be helpful
even as a child.
He went to the Arafura Sea north of Australia in Taisho 5 (1916) at the
age of 16, on a small steamboat less than 100 tons. Since then, around
this sea area, he devoted himself to collecting pearls and pearl oysters
staying on a steamboat as his home.
After 17 years' work there, in Showa 8 (1933), at the age of 33, luckily
lived on, he could return to his hometown Miwasaki on a small cargo steamboat
crossing the equator.
This is the story of such a seaman.
The year 1900 of Kyozo Wozumi's birth was the point to the new century,
when the 5th World Expo was held in Paris, France.
According to the yearbook, Japanese Government built the Japanese Hall similar to the Golden Hall of Horyuji Temple there and exhibited antiques including the belongings of the Imperial Family. Otojiro Kawakami with his wife Sadayakko came there over to give their performance during their play schedule overseas, as well as Soseki Natsume visited there on the way to study in London.
The Russo-Japanese War began after 4 years.
Now our sight is set on a local town Miwasaki at that time.
Miwasaki facing the Sea of Kumano was a poor fishing village with the sphere
of life isolated from the town Shingu over the mountain pass which was
well-off as a lumber distribution center.
Every fishing family was half making a living by farming because fishing
only was not enough for living.
Miwasaki with Sano and Kinokawa, western neighboring villages, was lumped
together under the name of "Miwasaki area", which was totally
populated by 4 thousand people with one elementary school.
As soon as the national isolation was over because of the government system
change from Edo to Meiji, many people began to emigrate or to go abroad
to work from various parts of Japan.
From Wakayama Prefecture, quite a number of people emigrated to Brazil,
Los Angeles and Hawaii. But from Nanki-Kumano, the southern part of the
prefecture, especially from the towns and villages along the Sea of Kumano
from Kushimoto to Miwasaki, many fishermen went to work around Arafura
Sea beyond the equator.
For the purpose of lessening food expense and making money, a couple of
young men of the relatives of Wozumi were working there. On the other hand,
Wozumi family was in the depths of poverty without such a way.
Matsuzo Wozumi, father, was liable to be sick, so he could not work for
the fishery well enough. Though Fuku, mother, worked hard in the poor field,
it was only little help.
When Kyozo, son, entered the elementary school, Matsuzo made his appendicitis
worse, and it occured with peritonitis.
The family did certainly not have enough money for him to see a doctor,
so he opened his stomach for himself with a knife fastened on his right
Young son Kyozo fervishly wiped pus out of the internal organs by cloth,
and squeezed the affected part under the direction of his father clenching
his teeth. Then he disinfected the wound and put the remaining cloth on
it. The father did not groan, and the son followed his father 's weak hoarse
voice forgetting himself.
Kyozo did not go to elementary school even for a year, because it became
his daily routine to help his father go to the sea with him.
Matsuzo, father, died just before the age of 50, leaving 6 sons and 2 daughters
to his wife. He lived long considering his illness.
Fuku, his wife, lived another several years.