Back from Ito

Next to a somewhat abstract statue of William Adams, master mariner, tradesman and samurai, on the shore of Ito city on the Izu peninsula.  There is also a curious sculpture supposedly in tribute to the San Buena Ventura, one of the two galleons built in Ito under Adams’ supervision.  The plaque was discreet enough to refer to them as the first “Western-style sailing ships” in Japan rather than the name they were known by at the time: Southern Barbarian Ships.

Perhaps the choice of abstract sculpture was chosen as no sailing plan exists today for either craft.  The San Buena Ventura sailed for Mexico to repatriate distressed Spanish mariners and on arrival she was confiscated by the Spanish Empire.  Another galleon was built in the north of Japan around the same time by Spanish shipwrights, called the Date-maru.  She seemed to fare much better, making the trans-Pacific passage twice; a replica of her exists today in Ishinomaki harbour which even survived the March tsunami.

After the wonderful weather on Saturday, it turned foul today with rain and a strong easterly wind blowing right onto shore, right into the teeth of the numerous anglers on the beach and breakwater.  I recited Mr. Mowett’s poem  (“Then might I, with unrivalled strains, deplore, Th’impervious horrors of a lee shore”) but it was lost on my travelling companion.  In the right-hand side of the photo, partly obscured by the lighthouse, you can see just make out the island Hatsushima.  I would like to come to Ito again and jump on one of the aji or squid boats that sail from the harbour (I spotted at least three); fish the day and then spend the night in an onsen by the seaside!  Sadly I couldn’t do it this time round.

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