Snapshot 13: Sea Rough, Sea Calm

The Japan Sea coastline has hazards of all kinds.
Sea Rough, Sea Calm
The sea is never far away on the Noto Peninsula.  Inland, of course, the steep tree covered mountains divided by narrow valleys and wider areas of flat farmland are the dominant components of the natural identity of the peninsula.  The character of the sea on either side, however, has a significant influence on the overall demeanour of the peninsula, too.

Along the Japan Sea coastline there are often rocky shallows, which extend out some twenty to fifty meters from the shore.  Seen at low tide these rough, jagged obstacles reveal themselves as the reason for the angry waves, which seem to be constantly breaking along the shore when the tide comes in.  In places there are narrow channels in this barrier of submerged rock.  Historically small boats used them to ferry goods ashore from larger sailing ships, which would anchor in deep water, for fear of the hull-ripping rock close to the shore.  The wind, too, contributes to the rough unpredictable character of the Sotoura coast of the Japan Sea, especially during the winter, when the sea takes on a most violent and threatening countenance.

Dwellings too find some shelter in one of the coves of Nanao Bay.

The sea along the eastern shore is, on the other hand, mostly calm and benign, especially that part of the coast around Nanao Bay.  It is divided into three expanses of water—North Bay, West Bay and South Bay with the large island of Notojima situated roughly in the middle.  The broader areas of Toyama Bay along the coast here, however, can be rough.  The northern reaches of the Uchiura part of the coast of the peninsula facing Toyama Bay are, nevertheless, lucky to have a number of sheltered bays.  There is no denying the fact that the impression of the sea here manifests tranquility and calm.  There are oyster beds and in some places no deep water shoreline to speak of, so the relationship of the people with the sea here is very different.  The sea is respected but its placid nature seems to bear no malice.

The environment of the peninsula is simple in construction but rich in content.  The character of the sea on either side of the Noto Peninsula introduces a component of contrast to the overall impression.  Male and female, rough and smooth, violent and peaceful—how do such attributes affect the people living there?  I would have to be living there for much more than a month to be able to answer that question with any authority.

Bill Tingey Photo © Copyright

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