13_Kujukushima Islands

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13. Kujukushima Islands

location:  Kisakata, Nikaho City

After Mount Chokai erupted in 466 BC, lava flowed down into the shallow waters of the Japan Sea, thereby forming many small islands along the coast from this clash of hot molten rocks with sea water.
Over time sedimentation caused the shallow sea to divide into sand dunes, with the result that the coastal landscape was transformed into many lagoons around the group of islands.
Each of these small islands was thickly covered with pine trees, and this picturesque scene of many pine-clad islands became a feature of the Kisakata coastline.
The celebrated haiku poet Matsuo Basho visited the area and introduced these islands in “Oku-no-Hosomichi” (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) in the Edo Period.
However, in 1804, a dramatic change occured when a series of earthquakes caused the seabed to rise up and the water around the islands was pushed out to sea.  As a result, the 99 islands became landlocked, and have remained that way since then.
In spring and early summer, during the rice planting season, you can imagine the pre-earthquake scene of the ninety-nine islands because the surrounding rice fields are then filled with water.
Please visit the Michi-no-Eki Kisakata (Kisakata Roadside Station) and climb the observatory in Nemu-no-Oka so that you can enjoy the panoramic view of where the original islands stood.

keywords: nature, crustal movement
features:  islands in the countryside, geological activity, haiku poems

written by A. Wakabayashi

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