Kushimoto is a small coastal town which can be found on the most southern point of Japan’s Kii Peninsula, the largest peninsula on Japan’s Honshu island. Kushimoto is rich with history and is surrounded by magnificent scenery which definitely makes this town worth a visit. Kushimoto may be best known for its Turkish Memorial Museum which is dedicated to the tragic events of September 1890 where the Turkish ship Ertuğrul was shipwrecked during a typhoon after returning from a goodwill voyage to Japan. The people of Oshima (a small island connected to Kushimoto by bridge) tried to save as many of the shipwrecked crew as possible and shared their very limited food supplies with the Turks knowing there wasn’t enough supplies to feed their own people. These tragic events at Kushimoto became the foundation of the friendship between Turkey and Japan which is solidified even to this day.
When you first arrive in Kushimoto, you may notice Turkish writing over the ticket machines and several ‘Nazar’ (Turkish Evil eye) out and around the station. This is because Kushimoto has since become a sister city of both Yakakent and Mersin in Turkey. Outside the station there is a tourist information centre where we were greeted by a friendly team who were wearing a polo top with both the Turkish and Japanese flags side by side. Outside the tourist information centre there is a shuttle bus service that stops off at all of the main attractions at Kushimoto. The journey was approximately 45 minutes to the most southern point of Oshima, where the Turkish Memorial Museum is based.
When we arrived at the museum we were greeted by a very friendly lady who gave us a companion guide for the exhibit. From inside and on the balcony of the museum you can see the rocks which the Ertuğrul crashed onto during the stormy evening on 16th September 1890. Alongside the museum is a memorial to those that had lost their lives aboard Ertuğrul and an Mustafa Kemal Ataturk statue who was the founder and first president of the republic of Turkey. You will also find a Turkish giftshop where you will find goods that you would expect to find in a ‘bazaar’ in Turkey. Next to the giftshop is a traditional Turkish ‘Dondurma’ shop which serves real Turkish Ice Cream!
The Shionomisaki Lighthouse can also be found just after the Turkish Memorial which was designed by an Englishman known as Richard Henry Brunton. Today you can still climb to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy the magnificent coastal view of Kushimoto. Nearby is the Japan-US Friendship Museum which is considered to be the first occurrence of a ‘friendly’ relationship between the US and Japan. Surrounding the coast of Kushimoto is ‘Umikongo’ which are the big rocks which line up in the Kashinozaki sea. There are many different viewpoints in the area to see the wave break against these spectacular rocks. It is definitely a sight to behold.