the Degree Confluence Project

Japan : Kyūshū

9.8 km (6.1 miles) NE of Kuchino-shima (Island), Toshima-mura, Kagoshima-ken, Kyūshū, Japan
Approx. altitude: 0 m (0 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreetMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 30°S 50°W

Accuracy: 20 m (65 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Leaving N30 E130 - A view from the ouest #3: Higo-san #4: Confluence location #5: A view from the northern part of the island #6: Kuchino shima with Mt Maedake in the background #7: Wild Japanese beef #8: Tamoto lily #9: Unpaved mountain road #10: Age of the Gods

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  30°N 130°E  

#1: A view of the confluence N30 E130

(visited by Fabrice Blocteur)

Japanese version


29-Apr-2003 -- According to the DCP website, N30 E130 is 8.0 km (5.0 miles) ENE of Kuchino-shima Volcano, Kuchino-shima Island, Toshima-mura, Kagoshima-gun, Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan. Directions: in the ocean, but the 627m volcano will dominate the horizon.

The best way to get there would have required having my own sailing boat. As a kid I had one and probably could have made the journey like so many journeys I made in those days. I pretended that my ship was a Spanish galleon and with my vivid imagination I often sailed the high seas looking for treasures and new lands. As Christopher Columbus I discovered America a few times on the shore of the bathtub, as Vasco da Gama I opened the sea route to the East Indies across a small pound near my home, and as Magellan I kept going around the world in the fountain of the botanical garden. One day one of my friends decided he was Nelson at Trafalgar and sank my galleon by crushing it with his plastic saber. It was the end of my career as an admiral.

A more practical and safer way to get to the closest island near the confluence is to do what most people do and that is first to go to Kagoshima, on Kyushu island, and from there board a ferry to Kuchino shima. That island is the gateway of the Tokara Islands consisting of 7 populated and 5 deserted islands. Among the 1000 Japanese islands, they are Japan's last mysterious region. The southernmost island, Takarajima (literally Treasure island) is believed to be the island on which Stevenson's novel ‘Treasure island’ was based. Less than 800 people live on those islands. Gaja-jima had been a settled island but was abandoned in 1970 because of its inaccessibility and depopulation. Kuchino shima, like all but one island, has no airfield and the ferry, which runs twice a week between Kagoshima and Amami Oshima, is the only link with the rest of Japan and the world.

I boarded the ferry on Monday April 28th at 11 pm and just before 6 am the next morning I set foot on Kuchino. I had made arrangements with a minshuku (Japanese style B & B) prior to my arrival and the owner was waiting for me at the pier. Higo-san was not only the owner of a minshuku; he was also the captain of a small fishing boat and plans had already been made to go to the confluence right after my arrival. Straight after dropping my luggage and parking my motorbike at the minshuku we were on his boat heading for N30 E130.

A few days before a small typhoon had passed through the area and a strong wind had picked up. The sea was rough, but no match for the small boat. We crested the waves and spray coming onto the deck forced me to take refuge in the small cabin as the island behind me got smaller. Fifty minutes later, as we were approaching N30 E130 on the Tokyo datum marine GPS, we switched to my GPS set on WGS84 and shortly after got to the confluence. I came out of the cabin and, holding onto the boat with one hand and the camera with the other, I quickly snapped a few photos. The ride back was hampered by some engine trouble, but Higo-san can wear many hats and, as a good mechanic, was able to fix the engine. Within a few minutes the engine was roaring again and by 8 am we were back at the harbor.

The 30 hours which were left until the ferry came back to pick me up were spent exploring Kuchino shima. The island is around 13 km by 2.5 km, much smaller than Manhattan, which is 21km by 3.5 km, and the population is just 170 people compared to 1,500,000 in Manhattan. All the inhabitants are concentrated in the small village of Kuchino on the northeastern part of the island. The village contains a small post office with one employee, two small general stores, a school with 6 elementary students, 6 junior high school students and… 10 teachers. It has no doctor, no police and no bank. Most people live from the products of their land and the sea. Like all the Tokara Islands, Kuchino is blessed by an abundant nature and a special culture influenced by North Japan (Yamato) and South Japan (Ryukyu).

Mt. Moedake dominates the uninhabited southern part of the island surrounded by thick vegetation of Banyan and Ako trees, Chinese fan palms, laurels and other subtropical plants. This is the only place in the world where pureblooded Japanese wagyu beef cattle exist in the wild. The air is nicely perfumed with wild Tamoto lily. According to a legend, the seeds of this flower were carried to this island in the kimono sleeves (tamoto) of a fugitive samurai of the defeated Heike clan following their war against the Genji.

I didn’t see any samurai but wouldn’t be surprised if some were still hiding somewhere on the island. Things don’t seem to have changed since then. Time is suspended as in the Iya Valley on Shikoku, romanticized by Alex Kerr’s book ‘Lost Japan’: “Coming along the bend of an unpaved mountain road, I would suddenly have the illusion that I had traveled back hundred of millions of years. (…) In Shinto, there is a tradition of Kami no Yo, the ‘Age of the Gods’, when man was pure and the gods dwelled in hills and trees”. On Kuchino shima, the gods are still dwelling in the hills and trees.

Japanese Narrative

29-Apr-2003 -- DCPホームページによると、北緯30度東経130度(経緯度交差地点)は、口之島火山の東北東8キロメートル(5マイル)の日本の九州地方鹿児島県鹿児島郡十島村口之島にある。指針:海上であるが、海抜627mの火山は、この地点をその地平線内に納めることができる。

この地へ行く最良の方法には、自分の手こぎのボートが必要だ。子供の頃、私は、小船をもっていて、多くの冒険旅行をしたように、いまあんな船があれば、そんな旅ができただろう。あのころ、私は、自分の小船をスペインのガレオン船に見立てて、いきいきと想像をめぐらせて、宝物や新しい島を捜して、外洋へと漕ぎ出したものだ。クリストファーコロンブスのように、湯船のような狭い海の砂浜で、幾度と無くアメリカを発見したり、わが家の近くの小さな池を横切って、バスコ ダ ガマのように、東インドにいたる海上ルートを見つけたりもした。そして植物園の泉水では、マゼランのように世界一周の航海をした。ある日、一人の友人がトラファルガー海戦のネルソン提督になることを決心して、私のガレオン船めがけてプラスチックのサーベルを振りかざしててぶつかってきて船を沈めてしまった。このときが私の海軍大将歴の終わりだった。



つい数日前、小さな台風がこのあたりを通過したこともあって、強風が勢いを増していた。海は荒れ模様だったが、船には難敵ではなかった。我々は波のうねりを乗り越え、デッキにかかる波しぶきを避けるため、小さな船室に逃げ込むうち、背後の島陰は小さくなっていた。50分後、東京データム マリンGPSの北緯30度東経130度地点に接近した。私は自分のGPSをWGS84にセットし、まもなく交差地点に到達した。私は、船室から出て、片手で船に掴まり、片手にカメラを構えて素早く何枚かの写真を撮った。帰路エンジントラブルのために難儀させらたが、経験豊かな肥後さんは、すぐれた修理技術者でもあり、難無くエンジンを直すことができた。何分かしてエンジンは再び唸りをあげ、午前8時には船着き場にもどった。

フェリーが迎えにくるまでの30時間、私は口之島を探検して回った。島は直径2.5キロ 周囲13キロで、直径3.5キロ 周囲21キロあるマンハッタン島よりもかなり小さい。人口は、150万人のマンハッタンに対し、170人。ほとんどの住民は、島の北側にある口之村に住んでいる。島には、職員1人の小さな郵便局、二つの小さななんでも屋の店、児童6人の小学校、生徒6人先生10人の中学校がある。医者はなく、警察も銀行もない。たいていの人は島の土地と海の産物で生活している。ほかのトカラの島々と同様、口之島もまた、豊富な自然の恵を受け、北のヤマトと南の琉球の文化的影響を受けている。

前岳は無人地帯の島の南側を占め、密生するバンヤン樹とアコ樹、チャイニーズファン パーム、月桂樹、その他の亜熱帯植物に囲まれている。そして、ここには、世界で唯一、野性の純血肉用和牛が棲息している。空気は、野性のタモト百合の薫りがして好ましい。伝説によると、この花の種子が、源氏との戦いに破れた平家の落人の着物の袖の中に入って、この島に運ばれてきたのだという。

私は、サムライの姿は目にすることはなかった。しかし、この島のどこかに今なおサムライが身を潜めているとしても、私は驚かない。その時代から、この島ではものごとはなにも変わっていないかのように見える。アレックス カー著作「美しき日本の残像」(原著 「Lost Japan」)で

「曲がりくねった山道を辿っていると、私は突然、一億年も昔に還って旅しているかのような幻影にとらわれた。神道では神の世と称する伝統的世界観がある。そこでは人々は純粋で、 神々は山々や木々に宿っている。」


Translated by Yukio Takahashi

 All pictures
#1: A view of the confluence N30 E130
#2: Leaving N30 E130 - A view from the ouest
#3: Higo-san
#4: Confluence location
#5: A view from the northern part of the island
#6: Kuchino shima with Mt Maedake in the background
#7: Wild Japanese beef
#8: Tamoto lily
#9: Unpaved mountain road
#10: Age of the Gods
ALL: All pictures on one page
In the ocean, but the island's 627 m volcano will dominate the horizon.