A lava plateau island floating in the Hibikinada offing, Mutsure Island is located around 5km to the northwest of the Kanmon Straits.
This is Mutsure Island as seen from Oinoyama Park in Shimonoseki.
Built in the early Meiji era and admired by lighthouse lovers, the lighthouse on the tip of the island is one of Japan’s oldest western style versions.
To get to Mutsure Island, I board the “Mutsuremaru”, a regular ferry that leaves from Takezaki wharf at Shimonoseki fishing port. The journey takes around 20 minutes. I enjoy the cruise with the cozy sea breezes, and before I realize it we’ve reached Mutsure Island!
As soon as we arrive, I head straight to the lighthouse. It’s around 15-minutes walk from the port.
A historically invaluable building, Mutsure Island lighthouse is located on a podium. It’s one of five that were constructed based on the Osaka treaty that the Shogunate made with Great Britain in order to ensure the safety of foreign vessels related to the opening of Hyogo (Kobe) port at the end of Edo period.
The new Meiji government took over operations and with the design of Richard Henry Brunton, also known as the “Father of Japanese lighthouses”, construction finished and its light was turned on in 1872.
Seen from closeup, the rustyness of the lighthouse stands out quite clearly. However, it just adds to its character!
Though its outer appearance remains the same, in 1963 the facilities were modernized when electricity finally reached the island via undersea cable.
After checking out the lighthouse, I had some time to kill before taking the ferry back, so I took a walk around the island!
It’s dotted with the plastic greenhouses typical of calm, rural scenery.
Designated as a natural monument by the Japanese government, this stone is called Unmogenbugan.
It was born when lava erupting from the sea floor came into contact with sea water and suddenly cooled. Making it an extremely rare stone, this process created innumerable tiny holes in the stone and biotite and amphibole crystals inside. These kinds of stones exist only in three locations in the whole world (this is the only location in Japan).
Further on, greenhouse cultivation of chrysanthemums, carnations, gerberas and other flowering plants prospers thanks to the island’s warm climate. Visitors can take a tour of the inside the greenhouses. Actually, Mutsure Island is also known as the island of flowers!
After touring the Mutsure Island lighthouse, seeing Unmogenbugan on the hill, and the flower greenhouse, I walk around the island down to the port.
Allowing visitors to enjoy walking around the island’s sights within about two hours, the observation course has a suitable number of ups and downs.
I board the Mutsuremaru ferry again, and say my goodbyes to the island! In August 2015, the ferry rate was an affordable JPY710 (return ticket) for adults.
Mutsure is a fun island where you can tour the island’s three main sights – one of Japan’s oldest western style lighthouses, Unmogenbugan, and the flower greenhouses – on foot!
Location: 117 Mutsure island, Shimonoseki city. Yamaguchi prefecture
Mutsurenmaru (from Takezaki wharf)
Location: 3-15-5 Takezaki-cho, Shimonoseki city, Yamaguchi prefecture
Fare: Adults’ return ticket JPY710
Parking: Available (coin parking)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Hironobu Matsuoka
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