1. Hometown & Childhood 8. Complete Recovery
2. Arafura Sea 9. Catch a Big Carp
3. Round-trip to Hometown 10. Yasukera Dance
4. Newly-married Life 11. Fathers Came
5. Stormy Day 12. Two Family Scenes
6. The Year 2600 of Kigen 13. Later Years
7. Work in a Coal Mine (Reference)
Miwasaki, Now & Then
1. Hometown & Childhood
1. Hometown

The map of Kinki Region shows most of Kii Peninsula due south sticks out into the Pacific Ocean. Wakayama prefecture spreads south-west of the peninsula. Its 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 Region. 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 from Kushimoto town and the surrounding areas, who worked for collecting pearls and pearl oysters with the people of 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 of quote)

Lucky day of September, 1998
Proposers Association
of Building the Honor Monument

The country of 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 from Asia.

During those days, from the beginning of Meiji Era (about 1870s) until the outbreak of Pacific War (1941), fishermen around Nanki-kumano district of southern Wakayama prefecture went far down to 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 residents staying at a simple lodge. They got the supply of food and fuel mostly there. Ryotaro Shiba, a famous writer, refers to it in his 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 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 it.
Then the nearest stations to the sight spots are lined 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 and after 2 stations, the local train stops at Miwasaki Station, unmanned, just 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 times.

In the old poetry collection, Manyoshu, edited about 1300 years ago in Nara Period (8th century), the following tanka poem can be seen.

苦しくも 降りくる雨か 神が崎(みわがさき)
狭野(さの)の渡りに 家もあらなくに
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 the fall of Meiji 33 (1900) as the first child of a fisher family. Though his father was sickly, seven children followed him one after the other.
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 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 in the southern hemisphere, 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.

2. Childhood

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 London to study.
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 over a mountain pass from the town Shingu 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 about 4,000 people with one elementary school.

As soon as the national isolation was over because of the government system change from Edo to Meiji Period, 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 over 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 fingers.
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.

Reading 16'30"
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 >
Email Close