Takamijima, one of Shiwaku archipelago islands in the Seto Inland sea, is unobtrusively situated in the middle of these waters, just off the Tadotsu-cho shore, and has been key to maritime traffic since ancient times. In fact, it is believed there was a Yahoo period (roughly 400 BC to 250 CE) highland settlement on the summit of Mount Ryuo. There are also claims that members of the Heike clan who fled regime change in the 12th century may have settled here.
Today, houses supported by walls of natural stone still cling to the 25-degree slopes. A view of these rooftops with the backdrop of Islands scattered across the Seto inland Sea alone, is worth a visit. This Island was the location for the movie, Tora-san’s Matchmaker(Otoko wa Tsurai yo : Torajiro no Endan), in 1993; and in 2004, Kikansha Sensei (litrally, “Locomotive Teacher,”English title: Silent Big Man) was filmed here, too.
Fishing and shipping were the main staples of the economy until the end of the 1800’s when cultivation of the pyrethrum chrysanthemum took off. A natural insecticide made from the dried flower heads of this species was used in the production of mosquito coils. At the peak (around 1935) of this boom, the entire Island was said to have been covered with the white flowers. After the decline in the demand for chrysanthemums; pot marigolds, Narcissus and sea-lavender were cultivated. Narcissus now grow wild and bloom all over the Island in spring, evoking the time when chrysanthemum production was at its height.
(Photo taken around 1957)
Photo taken around 1957. People were growing pyrethrum.