You can cross the strait in two minutes for free of charge.
“When the weather is good, I can feel as if I were on a voyage. That’s just wonderful,” said a regular user of the boat, who crosses the strait three times a week for playing ground golf.
When it is hot or cold, on fine days or rainy days, even on New Year’s Eve or New Year holidays, the boat continuously provides transportation service to people in Konaruto Strait, playing an important part in their daily life. I here report one-day activities of the boat.
It was early in the morning in the beginning of October at Takashima Pier of Kurosaki Tosen ferry boat service. The sun rose behind a small hill situated in the south and the shining sunlight illumined the strait. The silhouetted rafts for culturing Wakame seaweed and actively working fishermen were impressive. Then, at 6:40 AM, the first departure was from the Kurosaki Pier, which was on the other side of the strait, as scheduled. While I was thinking, “Oh, now the boat is coming,” it reached the pier of this side. On the boat, there were not so many people, and they hurried to their respective destinations. A long day for the boat started like this.
Rush hour for the boat
The boat departed every twenty minutes during morning commuter rush hour. A high school student, who arrived at the pier first for the ride at 7:20, stopped her bicycle just at the end of the pier. She looked shy, saying, “I will attend an extra morning class to study mathematics. I am not good at mathematics, so I feel a little bit blue now.” Following her, other high school students had arrived at the pier one after another, coming from Takashima area in Naruto City, a new residential area made by landfilling salt fields. Many families of younger generations live there and many of their children use this boat to go to high schools situated in the urban area of Naruto City. A line of people waiting for the boat appeared before I was aware of it.
Passengers are so familiar
After the rush hour, the pier became quiet again. “I can meet the same people almost every day. So, when I noticed a person who I knew hadn’t come for several days, actually, later I found that he had had a cold or been hospitalized during the period,” said Mr. Tada, an operator of the boat. In break time, he enjoyed small talks with passengers he was familiar with in the waiting room. Then, another man came to us who were strangers wandering the pier with a camera in hand and told us about good places to visit in Naruto.
As a “daily transportation tool”
Although there are four bridges over the Konaruto Strait, as the bridges are so high that it is difficult for walkers and bicyclers to cross them. There are two other ferry boat services than Kurosaki Tosen for free of charge because they are used as “a municipal road,” As an elder lady says, “These boats are very helpful for us,” the boats are an essential part of their living, especially for people who don’t have a car or a car license.
Very relaxing afternoon
The boat departed every one hour or one and half hours from a little before noon till late afternoon. The passengers were mainly elderly people who regularly went to hospital and housewives and university students who went for shopping by bicycle. They finished their shopping or errands before the next departure. Since the Naruto University of Education is located on the Takashima side, some passengers were foreign students, which could create an international atmosphere.
Students coming out of school in the evening
At around four o’clock in the evening, high school students were coming one after another to Kurosaki Pier to go home. Their faces were much more relaxed than in the morning as they had finished their study at school then. Some student couples enjoyed the time on the boat. Such a scene made other people smile. Ryoma, a Labrador dog, came to the waiting room with a smile waving his tail to get some snack from an operator of the boat, which had been a daily routine for about ten years.