Lighthouse named after M. Shpamberg was built in 1938-43 on Southern Kuril Islands. Its height is 18m. The Japanese used to move along the island on horses, sometimes on foot, and rather seldom by cars. In winter the lighthouse could be reached only on skis.
This lighthouse is almost the last Japanese construction remained on the island. The similar one is only in Sakhalin.
He is 53 and he has a widespread Russian surname – Sidorov. He’s been living here on the island since 1978. His main profession is a bulldozer operator. In the hard times of perestroika the government didn’t care much about this region and people survived how they could. Sidorov dug out what he had buried in the past times – nonferrous metal. It saved him. Many others went poaching, there were neither order no money on the island.
Victor has been serving in the lighthouse for 6 years. The reasons he chose this job – an opportunity to be alone and far from bosses. No romance at all. He says it’s not the right place to seek for romance. 15 days nonstop – voluntary watch at the world’s end.
The lighthouse itself is located on the cape called Crab. It takes 5 minutes afoot to get to the real end of the world – the cape that really has such a name: “The end of the world”.
It’s not calm in Shikotan and many people are afraid of various prophecies. They still remember the earthquake in 1994 when the island sank for 1,5 m according to the dwellers. Many of them left the place forever. But there were a lot who came back… Victor was one of them. The habit to live on the Kurils is in their blood. Besides there were other reasons he came back: his age (he couldn’t find a job on the mainland), the climate he didn’t used to, and loneliness he seeked for.
October-November is the period of severe storms and bad weather on the island.
People often tell that lighthouses are favorite places for ghosts but Victor says he’s never seen any.
Except rare Russian tourists no other people are allowed to enter the tower of the lighthouse. Japanese tourists do not come to the cape. The territory of the naval forces is guarded.
Voctor tells that in the time of the Japanese being here the lighthouse constructions looked in the different way – one could move from one room to another without coming outside. The system of the concrete constructions resembled a bunker, life in the lighthouse was kind of autonomous.
In winter light-keepers bring fresh water from streams on the coast, in winter they melt snow.
Victor has a hobby, he likes to dig out old Japanese stuff. He’s got a modest collection: some broken plates, a tea cup with some poems inside, a couple of clay jugs… He has a dream to dig out a Samurai sword.
People catch crabs in Shikotan. 5 traps and 10 crabs is a norm for each citizen here.
Only one road leads to the lighthouse, when it rains the road is impassable.
In two years Victor is going to retire, he thinks it will be the time of some changes, time to make his life easier.