Kumomi on the west coast - magnificant landscape and the view of Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji seen from the Kumomi beach in the morning dawn.
The two rocks in the foreground are called "Ushitsuki-jima" (islands where cows were cast ashore).
The name came from a heavy flood which occurred in 1816. The flood badly damaged the village and after the disaster two cows were found on the rocks. Therefore, this name was given to the rocks. Now there is a shrine on the bigger rock and a straw rope (shimenawa) is stretched between the two rocks.
An example of minshuku in Kumomi
Senganmon seen from the path to the village (right) and its arch (below).
Eboshi-yama (top left), Sengen-jinja and the sea below (above left) and the steps leading to the shrine (right).
Restaurant Wakasa-shokudo. Their cooked fishes are delicious!
Kumomi is on the South-Eastern coast of the Izu Peninsula and a popular tourists' destination because of the good view of Mt. Fuji.
Kumomi is located about three hours drive from my summer house; therefore it is easy to make a day trip to Kumomi. However, I decided to stay overnight in Kumomi to enjoy "ryokan" or "minshuku" (*)
and the atmosphere of remote villages without a hectic schedule. This idea did not fail. When I arrived in Kumomi, I could not see Mt. Fuji, though the weather was fine. That was because of the humid air. Abundant sunshine caused diffused reflection due to rich vapor in the air and everything looked hazy. However, when I got up the following morning at 5:20, Fuji appeared clearly in the morning dawn.
- "Ryokan" is a Japanese-style inn. "Minshuku" originally meant a private house providing bed and meals. Generally speaking minshukus are more affordable than ryokans, but the demarcation between ryokan and minshuku is nowadays unclear and rather up to the private taste or marketing policy of their owners. In Kumomi there are only four ryokans, while there are many minshukus.
Kumomi is a small village but apparently richer than its neighboring villages, and I think it is because of its success in tourism. Of course, the largest contributor to its success is the excellent view of Mt. Fuji from Kumomi. Howevere, I think people should pay more attention to the beauty of the surrounding nature and the charm of village life. But, villagers do not seem to care much about these points. They probably think that the success of their village rests on Mt. Fuji on the one hand and the diving possibility on the other.
A lady at the village tourist office told me, in answering my question about tourists attractions in Kumomi, that there is nothing worth seeing in the village except for the Whale House, which stores the skeleton of a right whale that strayed into the Kumomi port and died despite the efforts of villagers to let it back into the high sea. Now, its skeleton is exhibit as one of the rare specimens of this rare species. I did not find the skeleton much interesting. On the other hand, I could find wonderful places in Kumomi.
"Senganmon" is, for example, a giant natural stone arch. A tunnel - 15m high and 10m wide - cuts through a huge rock island. This was seen as the gate for the Sengen-Jinja on top of the Eboshi-yama and called "Sengen-mon". Later, people came to think that viewing this magnificent gate was worth one thousand-kan(**)
and the gate came to be called "Sengan-mon". From the village center it takes about 15 minutes on foot to reach Sengan-mon. We have to climb some 50 m high steep path. But, the effort is richly rewarded, when we come to the highest point of the path and see the majestic ocean landscape on the west coast of Kumomi.
|(**) ||"Kan" is the old currency unit. One-kan is one thousand coins in the feudal time.|
Another Eboshi-yama (***)
is only 163m high. But, it sheers up from the sea and its hut-like shape. Sengen-jinja, which exists on its summit, enshrines Iwanaga-hime (****)
(Princess Iwanaga). Kojiki, the oldest chronicle in Japan, tells an interesting legend on Iwanaga-hime. When Ninigi-no-mikoto, son of the sun goddess Amaterasu, decended from the heaven, he fell in love with the beautiful Konohana-sakuya-hime (****)
. The father of Konohana-sakuya-hime, Ooyamatsumi-no-kami was pleased and offered him Konohana-sakuya-hime together with her senior sister Iwanaga-hime. However, Iwanaga-hime, was an extremely ugly princess, therefore Ninigi-no-mikoto sent him back to her father and sent a night with Konohaya-sakuya-hime. Knowing this, Ooyamatsumi-no-kami said, the children of Ninigi-no-mikoto would flourish as blooming blossoms, but would not live long, because he refused Iwanaga-hime.
|(***)||"Eboshi" is a traditional hut in Japan.|
|(****)||"Konohana-sakuya" means beautiful as blooming blossoms. "Iwanaga" means long lasting as rock.|
According to another legend, Iwanaga-hime felt ashamed at the refusal of Ninigi-no-mikoto and fled to a small rocky mountain Eboshi-yama, while Konoyaha-sakuya-hime, resident on Mt. Fuji, tried to find out her sister and stretched herself to see more distant places. As a result Mt. Fuji became higher.
There are more than 500 stone steps, which lead to the main shrine on top of the mountain. It is really thrilling to go up the steep steps. In particular the last three hundred steps are suitable for rock climbers than for usual shrine goers.
Another attraction is the open-air thermal bath on Akaihama beach. It is free of charge. But, the water temperature is too low for me and the spa is not much enjoyable.
When we stand on the beach of Kumomi, a pair of rocks in front of Mt. Fuji attract our attention. They are called Ushitsuki-iwa and its surrounding sea is the popular diving spot.
Kumomi used to be an agricultural village and did not engage with fishery till the beginning of the 20th century. Then Kumomi started to harvest Japanese agar and founded the basis of its wealth before it shifted to tourism. Isoya, the ryokan where I stayed overnight, maintains an interesting internet site and describes there the life of Kumomi several decades ago. Compared with those photos and stories, Kumomi still retains many traditional characteristics, I believe. Its eateries, for example, offer foods based on their daily cuisine. I wish that Kumomi will retain its traditional charms and further increase its allure in the future.
Snapshots from Kumomi - Drying salted plums (left) and Ohta-river, which flows through Kumomi village (right).