Takamori Lighthouse and the Grandma who Built it

A Small Star on a Small Island

As hard as it is to believe a grandmother built a lighthouse. The lighthouse in question is the pint-sized 3-metre-high Takamori Lighthouse on Shikinejima one of the smaller islands that make up the Izu Seven Islands group. The story goes that an elderly resident by the name of Tan Miyagawa was so concerned about the spate of shipwrecks she decided to take the matter into her own hands and build a lighthouse to create a safe passage. The warm Kuroshio current which surrounds the island had long been good fishing ground though at night local fishermen and passing ships often found themselves run aground. Mustering assistance from some of the villagers (incredibly there was also opposition to building it) they went about the task of meticulously chiselling the island’s natural koga stone needed for its construction.

The fabrication was just the beginning as at the time of its completion around 1935 some five years after the mission began the advent of electricity had yet to reach the remote island’s shores. This meant our spritely 75-year-old Miyagawa san had to tread wearily each evening up the 200 odd steps with a lantern in one hand and a bottle of oil in the other to thwart those maritime calamities. And did she perform her duties with gusto. Records have it that Miyagawa san continued to soldier on illuminating the lighthouse every day until 88 years of age. In fact, the story was so inspiring that its’s depicted in a children’s book entitled chisana shima no chisina hoshi  “a small star on a small island”.

  Close up of the lantern.

  Access cover into the lantern.

  The 83 year old pint-sized Takamori Lighthouse.

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  Access: 15-minute walk from Nobushi Port.

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