Saturday, October 1, 2011

Shin-Hato Battery

When I first started out on my walk out to Gion no Su, and the stone bridge park, I went down from the Sakura-jima ferry port to the Aquarium. I circled the aquarium, looking for anything out of the ordinary to photograph before continuing on to the Amami ferry port. The only thing at all unusual was a red brick walkway of sorts, with a curved top. I just thought it was an attempt at an art project made at the time of the aquarium construction. There is a memorial marker near the aquarium entrance, but it's really faded out. There are some pictures of the wharf area where the building was put up, but what little discernible text there is, is all in Japanese.

That evening, I was sorting through my papers to clean up my desk space and I found two other tourist maps. One of them had an indication of a cannon battery next to the aquarium site. So, the next Friday, when I was already halfway to the docks at the Citizen's Exchange Center for a group English lesson, I went back to the aquarium. I couldn't find a dedicated historical marker in English, but I kicked myself when I realized that the "rounded-top walkway" was actually the remains of the 157-year old cannon battery walls. There were three batteries in all, at Tenpozan, Gion no Su, and here at what had been called Shin-Hato.

Description from the tourist map:
"This battery site was installed by the lord Shimadzu Nariakira in 1854 to strengthen protection of the domain against the external pressures of Western countries. It is designated as an important cultural property. 11 cannons were set here during the Anglo-Satsuma battle."

None of the other historical markers give numbers for the cannons at the other two batteries, and the tourist map only has a description of the Shin-Hato site.

Shin-Hato has what is probably the longest intact stretch of wall of the three sites, running about a block long.

Oddly enough, at the end of the walkway along the wall, someone had set up some chairs and tables. No idea why. They are facing Sakura-jima, so they could either be for a beer hall, or for watching the nightly fireworks in the bay.

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