Myth & Folklore

Ichiri Island/一里島

This article can be read in about 7 minutes.

Ichiri Island near Sasebo port (Red-circle)

Long long ago, there were one hundred offshore islands near Sasebo port (Nagasaki prefecture). 
There is a big leader island with a loud voice called “Matsura” island. 
There is also a sub leader island with long white beard called “Katsura” island. 
Next is a Madonna island called “Kanashige” island. 
Last is this story’s lead role, a young “Wakato” island that has a one-sided love to the Madonna island. 

Believe it or not, these islands were chatting with each other and taking a walk after local people have fell asleep. 
But they had to stay quiet during daytime. 
They were jealous at the people enjoyed drinking alcohol and having a great time every day. 

One day, they decided to go to a town and have a drinking party. 
After the people fell asleep, they reached the town. 
The Madonna island had a lot of sea weeds with her. 
They negotiated with a bar owner to exchange all sake rice wine that he had for sea weeds.  

It’s a deal! 

They got a lot of sake, and they started a drinking party. 
Some started a drinking game, while others started singing a song.

Speaking of “Wakato” island, he would like to show off to Madonna island. 
So, he poured sake repeatedly into a ship and finished it up many times. Finally, he passed out. 

When morning came, they found the eastern sky brighter and it’s their time to return to the original places. 
But there is one condition. 
They must return before the sun rises. 
Otherwise they would not be able to move anymore.

So, the other islands tried to wake “Wakato” island up. 
But he was so drunk that no matter what the others did, he did not wake up.
Finally, they gave up. 
Because they can already see the sun’s rays, they returned to their right places as fast as they could while leaving “Wakato” Island behind.
Sensing that the sun is about to rise, he suddenly woke up and immediately ran after them.

But it was too late for him.

The sun has risen. 
“Wakato” Island was frozen on the spot, 1.8 kilometers off the shore of the town. 
Since then, this island has been called  “Ichiri” island. 
Ichiri literally means one sea mile. 

And they ended up to ninety-nine islands. 

Since the Ichiri island is located near the Sasebo port with a lighthouse, you may visit Sasebo city to see the island.



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  1. AvatarRatnakant, India. says:

    Hi Miki
    Glad to read very amusing story. The unique positioning of the tiny island gave birth to such folklore. Interesting to find similarities in our country too like giving human faces and feelings to places, objects and generating stories which is heard with keen intetest by folks in the generations. Nice to know how everywhere the same we are.

    • MikiMiki says:

      Thank you for leaving your comment, Ratnakant san^^/
      It’s interesting that your country and my country have similarities.
      Yes! We are the same.
      We wonder why we fought with each other across the world.