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map of Himezaki Lighthouse

Himezaki Lighthouse

How to get

Get off #3 bus (Higashi-Kaigan-sen) at "Nojyou" bus stop. Turn left form the bus route. You will see a closed hotel that looks scary on left hand side. Then you get to the lighthouse. Photo.87.1 is the view from the Sado-Kisen Ferry Boat.

Photo.87.1 Himezaki Lighthouse viewed from Sado-Kisen

Himezaki Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse that was made of steel. Its completion was in 1895. Its cross section is hexagonal as shown in Photo.87.21). The lighthouse is chosen as one of "One Hundred Lighthouses in the World" 2). Small Museum of the Lighthouse shown in Photo.87.2 is on the slightly lower place than the lighthouse. A camping site is next to the museum. From the edge of the site, you can see a small island of rock on the sea, which is ‘Ryu-oh-iwa’ shown in Photo.87.3. There is an old tale about the Ryuoh-rock and Juntoku-Joko, but this page skips to telling that story.

Photo.87.2 Small Museum of Himezaki Lighthouse

When you go to the Himezaki Lighthouse, you will see a ship is sliding on the sea. The 1895-made lighthouse has seen many ships' go-and-back between Sado Island and Niigata. Let us look at a little history of marine transportation between Sado and Niigata. The Ryotsu Port is the name that was given in 1918 by the merger of two towns of Ebisu-cho and Minato-cho in 1901. But the following uses Ryotsu Port even if it was before 1918.

On Nobember 1867, Ryotsu Port was opened as a supplementary port of Niigata Port3). Niigata Port was one of five ports that were opened to foreign ships under the treaties in 1858 with five countries; U.S., Britain, France, Netherland, and Russia. On June 1871, Japan's first steel steam boat "Niigata-Maru" was completed and started service between Ryotsu Port and Niigata Port. In the decade of Meiji Era 10s (1877-1887), private companies started services. The ship route of Ryotsu and Niigara had become the major connection between Sado and the main land Honshu when a company, Essa-Kisen, was established and started regular service in18854).

Then the competitions among private companies got so intensified that people worried that safety might be degraded. Therefore a semi-governmental company "Sado Kisen Company" was established in 1932 with 50% investment from the Niigara prefectural government and with consignment to a commercial company for operation5). Car Ferries service started in 1967, and high speed boat "Jet-foil" in 19776).

Photo.87.3 Ryu Oh Iwa near Himezaki Lighthouse

Jet Foil is a high speed boat, or hydrofoil craft that takes only 65 minutes between Ryotsu and Niigata. There are some episodes about its introduction; the most impressive one is that the Boeing-made Jet Foil got a problem on the very first day of the service on May 1, 19777). Another interesting episode is the interest rate that Boeing suggested to Sado Kisen for the loan. It was 12%. Sado-Kisen asked the Japanese government for import permission with this interest rate. Then a manager of the financial ministry said that conditions needed to be reconsidered because 12% interest rate was so high. It would be even higher than loans for a developing country. Sado-Kisen asked Boeing to reduce the percentage to 11.5. Boeing refused at first, but the company compromised8) . Japan's GDP (at the time, GNP) had already been world's No.2 since 1968. Therefore Japan's reliability should not have been as bad as developing countries.
However, this episode would not indicate that Boeing thought Sado-Kisen business lightly because the vice president of Boeing came to Niigata for signing on November 17, 19769). It is quite amazing that such a high-ranking person of the big company came to a northern tiny town of the Far East, Niigata.

Photo.87.4 Jet Foil, Hydrofoil Craft

This website is always paying attention to how the war had influenced on anything. On August 10, 1945, Sado-Kisen's ship "Okesa-Maru" was attacked in Niigata Port by carrier based fighter planes. At around 11:45 before noon, 40 or some fighter planes came from the direction of Fukushima Prefecture to Niigata City. They raided the port facilities and factories by machine-gun fire and bombs. The ship Okesa-Maru was also targeted. Death toll was 15; one sailor and 14 passengers. Of them 8 were instant deaths. 23 were wounded; 4 sailors and 19 passengers. The ship got several damages that needed repairs10). It seemed that machine-gun fire was targeting the stern deck of Okesa-Maru, resulted in many deaths and wounds of passengers11). Including attacks against other ships and facilities, total death was 47; 29 citizens and 18 military persons12).

Photo.87.5 Himezaki Lighthouse