A concrete structure believed to have served as an observation deck is seen on the site of Sea Fort #2 in November. (Japan News-Yomiuri)
In the middle of Tokyo Bay lies a harmless man-made island shaped like a boomerang. It is a former gun battery base built more than a century ago by the Meiji government to protect the capital city of Tokyo and named “No. 2 Sea Fortress.”
In recent years, tours of the island have begun for the general public, drawn by the history of the valuable military remains.
The no. 2 Sea Fort is located about four kilometers west of Cape Futtsu in Chiba Prefecture and has a total area of about 41,000 square meters. Its construction is said to have been “the largest and most difficult civil engineering project of the Meiji era [1868-1912]’, began in 1889 and took 25 years to complete.
Tour guide Takeo Tomizawa explains the weapons installed on the island during World War II. (Japan News-Yomiuri)
The sea at this point is about 12 meters deep and the island was built by transporting rocks by ship and tipping them onto the seabed to form a foundation, and then pouring earth and sand on top. Upon completion, a turret base was built, and throughout the war its operators kept a keen eye on foreign ships entering Tokyo Bay.
After the Second World War, the fortress became obsolete. As it began to deteriorate, the island was closed to the general public.
It remained inaccessible for decades until 2018 when the Tokyo Bay Tourism Organization created Sea Fortress No. 2, jointly established by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the cities of Futtsu and Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, and others with the aim of to use the historic island as a tourist resource.
In 2019, tours to the island began in cooperation with private travel agencies, including one with a return trip to Tokyo Station.
On a November day, about 40 people were seen on a tour of Yokosuka Port, following a guide who described the history of the gun base, its observation deck and other aspects of the island.
A ferry with tourists arrives at Sea Fort #2. (Japan News-Yomiuri)
“This facility was built using the leading civil engineering technologies of the time,” said tour guide Takeo Tomizawa, 70. “Visitors who come to this island and see the area around it will surely understand why a fort needed space like.” this.”
The visitors were impressed. “Having such a massive fortress in the middle of the bay is amazing,” said a 49-year-old woman from Saitama Prefecture.