Heda seen from Goze-observatory. Heda Bay is protected by a narrow sandbank from wild weather. Two museums and a shrine are located on the bank.

Heda on the west coast- Deep-sea fish and Russian connection

Heda is a small fishing village on the west coast of Izu Peninsula. As its adjacent Suruga Bay is the deepest bay in Japan, lots of deep-sea fishes are among the catches of Heda's fishers. Heda appears to have succeeded in making deep-sea fishes, among others Takaashi-gani (Japanese spider crab), to their culinary specialties to attract tourists. There are many Takaashi-gani or deep-sea fish restaurants in Heda. However, I hear the meat of Takaashi-gani is not so delicious, though it might be an experience to eat a giant crab. Takaashi-gani is indeed a special crab species, because it is the largest arthropod in the world and a sort of living fossil; their catch is strictly controlled and their price is very expensive accordingly.

Takaashi-gani in the glass tank of a restaurant

A restaurant in the main streeto of Heda

A mask using Tkaashi-gani shell

There is a museum in Heda displaying the deep-sea fishes of Suruga Bay and we can see there exotic and weird fishes from the depth of the Bay. Next to it there is another small museum: Museum of Shipbuilding Materials Collected from Local Areas. The lengthy name unfortunately does not tell us much about its exhibits. The main part of its collection consists of the materials related to the Russian ship Diana and the building of the first European style ship in Japan.

Diana was the ship used by Russian Rear Admiral Yevfimy Putjatin when he came to Japan with a view to conclude a treaty. He arrived in Japan in 1953, only a month later than the American Commodore Perry. After the first contact with the Shogun government, he changed his ship for a newly built Diana. While Putjatin was negotiating with the Japanese side in 1854 in Shimoda (a town on the south coast of Izu) Diana was severely damaged at its bottom and rudder by the tsunami caused by a heavy earthquake.

The original anchor of Diana
Heda was chosen as a shipyard to repair Diana because of its favorable natural settings. Diana headed for Heda with the help of local barges. However, due to heavy wind Diana finally sank into Suruga Bay. Putjatin then decided to build a new ship in Heda to bring him back to Russia. Using a plan which was taken out from the sinking Diana a schooner was built by Japanese ship carpenters within three months. Putjatin named it Heda and after successful negotiations with Japan he returned back to Russia on board of Heda.

Putjatin and his aid depicted by a Japanese painter

A 1/10 model of Heda displayed in the museum. There are some materials from Diana and the original plan of Heda in the showcase.

Russian sailors and Japanese onlookers
Heda was the first European style ship built in Japan and another six ships of the same design were built in Heda by the Shogun government. Carpenters who participated in building Heda gathered experiences in building European style ships and later contributed to the development of Japanese shipbuilding industry.

Japan - Soviet Union friendship monument erected in 1965
The American Commodore Perry demonstrated his strength with four black steam gunboats and pressed Japan to open its ports to supply American whaling ships with water and fuels. On the other hand Admiral Putjatin patiently and peacefully negotiated with Japan to fix the national border and open trade relations. This difference of attitude between two gentlemen is somewhat ironical if we consider the later developments of relations of Japan with these two superpowers.

Heda seen through the torii of Morokuchi-Shrine next to the museums
By the way, Putjatin agreed with the Japanese side on the border between the islands Urup and Iturup. Unfortunately the islands south of Iturup are occupied by the Russians after WWII and Japan has been trying to recover them in vain.

The friendship between the family Putjatin and Russia on the one hand and Heda on the other lasts till today. In 1887 Putjatin's daughter Oliga Putyatina visited Heda and donated on her death 100 Ruble to Heda. A stone monument was built by the donation. Later in 1965 when this museum was built, five million yen was donated by the then Soviet Government and a model of Diana, which was displayed at the Osaka Expo in 1970, was also donated to the museum after the exhibition.