Mr Postman, do you have a letter for me?
A letter for me
From my own true love
Lost at sea
-The Decemberists – “From My Own True Love (Lost at Sea)”
I wrote about Tôjinbô (東尋坊) once in 2009, when I went on a road trip to Fukui. (It seems like a million years ago.) I only posted one photo(!), so today I’ll share some from my return trip in March 2012.
The thing about living or traveling in Hokuriku is how moody the landscape seems, particularly in autumn and winter. The constant precipitation and thundersnow, the rugged coasts, the harsh winters, the isolation of some of the areas (Suzu, Shirakawa-go) historically cut off from travel by snow or mountains…. The areas near the sea always remind me of The Decemberists’ “From My Own True Love (Lost at Sea),” a short, evocative song about waiting for a letter that will never come.
The area around Tojinbo has a fascinating topography. According to the Fukui prefecture website, Tojinbo, a Designated Place of Beauty,” is the only place in Japan where one can see such a gigantic columnar joint of pyroxene andesite.”
Tôjinbô has a sad reputation as “suicide cliffs” thanks to the 30-m drop and pointy rocks below. Along the 1-kim stretch of cliffs, there are signs with messages like “Think of your family and friends” and pay phones to try to deter jumpers. [If you are in Japan and need counseling in English, go to http://www.telljp.com/ or phone the TELL Lifeline 03-5774-0992)
The island of Oshima in the background is connected to the mainland with a bridge. There’s an old lighthouse there, an abandoned (?) shrine, and a hell of a lot of hawks.
Tide pools at low tide.
To return to the subjects of the rocks, pyroxene andesite is a geographically rare phenomenon featuring pillars of pentagonal or hexagonal stone (JNTO). I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
The area is popular with tour groups, so it’s not as creepy as being near the shore alone as I have been in other travels in the area. Yet, the cliffs in winter are always sort of foreboding, and when the weather turns to sunshine, there’s still something mocking about it. The area may not be as poetic as the gleaming coast of Shirasaki, but there’s a mysterious beauty to the place.
Lost at sea