Kashinozaki Lighthouse and the Friendship of Japan and Turkey

Some of Japan’s best known and closest international relationships are with China, Korea, and America among others. But one of Japan’s longest international allies, is Turkey. Their relationship goes back to 1890 when a ship from the Ottoman Empire, the Ertuğrul, sank around the tip of Kii Peninsula in Kushimoto. The Kashinozaki Lighthouse served a beacon of hope for the survivors of the Ertuğrul and eventually came to symbolize the friendship between Turkey and Japan.

Ottoman Frigate Ertuğrul

In 1889, a Turkish ship led by Osman Pascha headed to Japan on a diplomatic voyage of good will, as the Japanese Imperial family had visited Istanbul. Pascha had a warm welcome and were embraced as official foreign guests. He was even able to have an audience with Emperor Meiji.  After three months, Pascha and his crew made ready  to leave the county. However, they could not have known that a typhoon was brewing at sea. As their ship neared the Kashinozaki Lighthouse, the typhoon hit the Ertuğrul forcing it to run aground, utterly destroying it. A few of the crew scaled the cliffs near the lighthouse and begged the locals for help. Despite the immediate response of the  people in Kii Oshima Island, only 69 people were saved while 589 people died.

Kashinozaki Lighthouse on the tip of the island (on right). Crew from the Ertuğrul climbed these cliffs and ran to the lighthouse.

After the incident, the people of Kii Oshima earnestly cared for the Turkish survivors and retrieved all the dead bodies from the ocean. Far away in Tokyo Yamada Torajiro caught wind of what had transpired and began to collect donations for the victims and went to Turkey himself offer it to Abdul Hamid II.

In return for all this kindness, Turkey aided Japan during the Iran-Iraq War over a hundred of year later. When Iraq announced they were going to shoot down all Iranian airplanes within 24 hours. Countries scrambled to get their citizens out of Iran, but Japan could not get any planes to save their own people. At the last moment, it was Turkey who willingly offered planes to evacuate the Japanese people stuck in Iran.

Kushimoto Station

Kashinozaki Cape

Kashinozaki is on the tip of Kii Oshima Island. The closest station to Kashinozaki is Kushimoto Station. From the station, Kashinozaki is 30 minutes away by bus. However, most people just take a car to get there, as there is only a handful of bus service a day.

Around Kashinozaki is beautiful free park a few Turkish shops. 

walking down the Ertuğrul Strett

On Ertuğrul Street, you will see there is a Turkish Museum. While it is a quite small museum, it exhibits some of the wreckage of the Ertuğrul excavated from the nearby ocean. From the museum, you can see the rock that tore the Ertuğrul to pieces.  

Turkish Museum. Sadly no English!
Site where the Ertuğrul sank…

Moreover, near the museum is a monument to the Ertuğrul. Surprisingly, the town holds a commemoration ceremony every five years with a representative from the embassy of Turkey!!

Monument to the Ertuğrul

Kashinozaki Lighthouse

The Kashinozaki Lighthouse that played such an important role in the sad story of the Ertuğrul was built by the English architect, Richard Henly Brandon, who is known as the “Father of the Lighthouse” in Japan. He built many lighthouses throughout the country and the Kashinozaki Lighthouse is the first lighthouse with rotating lens built in Japan.

Statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk outside the Kashinozaki Lighthouse
Statue of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Unfortunately you cannot go into the lighthouse as it is still in use, but you can walk around the outside of the lighthouse for free! From the top of the lighthouse, you can see the beautiful Pacific Ocean!!

Kashinozaki Lighthouse
Kashinozaki Lighthouse
Catwalk of the Kashinozaki Lighthouse
Rotating lens
View of the Pacific from the Kashinozaki Lighthouse
If you set sail from here, you will reach New Guinea, and then Australia!

An uncanny symbol of a bond between two nations, the Kashinozaki Lighthouse even today continues to remind us that human kindness can influence people’s actions, years after. 

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