Miracle of Hashigui Iwa! – Legendary Stones Lined Up in a Straight Line
One day I read about Hashigui Iwa, stones making a strange scene in the ocean of Kushimoto-cho, Wakayama Prefecture. It was about 40 stones lined up straight along about 850 meters from north to south. The name “Hashigui,” literally meaning “bridge pier,” had obviously come from their appearance. While there are also some other famous strange stone sceneries in the coastal areas of Wakayama, this spot is especially renowned for not only the strangeness but also the scenic beauty. For the extraordinary beauty especially at the time of sunrise, the spot is listed in Japan’s 100 best sunrise spots and also designated as a national natural monument. After reading all this, I decided to head straight away to the spot.
As I approached the spot, I could smell the ocean and my expectation started to build. The stones were located near route 42 and the nearby area was spotted with souvenir shops. The “Usukawa Manju (bun with sweet filling)” I found at one of those shops is especially famous and did look very delicious. Right in front of Hashigui Iwa stones was a resting spot called “Kushimoto Hashigui Iwa.” It had an observatory, fast food shop, parking space and they were selling souvenirs here as well.
Right beside the parking space was an embankment, which provides a great photo spot. Early in the morning even before the sunrise, there were already some people holding cameras.
The photo on the top is the one I took there. The red colored sky and the surface of the ocean, cut across by the straight line of stones. I was mesmerized by the beautiful scenery and almost lost my sense of time. I also pleasantly recall the kids I saw there were all excited in joy.
I could point my camera in any direction and take beautiful photos. Even a piece of log floating in the ocean gave me an inspiration for photographing.
Sometimes I could see glimpse of ships coming and going near the stones. There are many ports nearby and I bet there are also many places where you can enjoy fresh fish. Dried fish and seafood I tried were very delicious.
The scenery changes as the time progresses. The height of the sun, the angle of the sunlight, the shape and contrast of the stones’ shadows and many other factors will determine the scenery at every moment. You have to come here to best enjoy the beauty and the dynamic scenic changes. You can also walk between the stones at the time of low tide, so you can get very close to these miraculous stones as you enjoy walking along the coast.
I soon found myself left among a very few people remaining there and knew I had been watching the changing expressions of those stones for about 2 hours. What I was watching was mere stones. But surrounded with a very mystic atmosphere, they miraculously become part of the wonderful natural scenery which will surely make you fall into self-oblivion.
If you ever have a chance to visit Wakayama, make sure to check out this spot. In the vicinity is also Shio Misaki, Honshu’s southernmost cape, where you can enjoy the view of the wide open sky and ocean with an amazingly expansive horizon. A little side trip of about a 10 minute drive to the cape will never disappoint you.
A little Episode about the Origin of the Stones
Why are these stones lined up in such a strange way? There is actually a legend about Hashigui Iwa stones. A long time ago, a priest, who is today known by the name of Kobo Taishi, made a bet with a small devil. The bet was on whether or not the priest would be able to build a bridge from the land to an island offshore overnight. While they are placing the bet, the devil already saw bridge piers miraculously appearing one after another. The devil was afraid he was going to lose the bet and decided to imitate the cry of a rooster. Hearing the cry, the priest was deceived into believing it was morning already, gave up on building the bridge and left in disappointment. Only the bridge piers remained and became what we know today as “Hashigui Iwa.” Information: Map
The stones will give you a different impression if you imagine this legendary episode as you look at the stones.