A group of schoolchildren walking down a road surrounded by mountains covered in trees © 2011 Jordan Harper. All rights reserved.

A taste of Japan

Day 8 — 5 August 2010

You may remember from yesterday’s post that I went to bed not feeling overly well. Unwilling to let that daunt our ambitions of heading to the beach we rose early (ish) and headed for the train station (stopping to pick up supplies on the way). A very short train journey later we joined hordes of children leaving the train at Takeno to walk the kilometre or so to the beach itself.

Despite our time in Miyajima and Iwakuni, this felt like our first trip to genuine provincial Japan: Miyajima was very much a tourist destination and, while remote, it was unashamedly geared towards wooing casual visitors (of which there were many); Iwakuni was a lot less tourist-oriented but felt more urban than I’d expected. We feared that one of the ‘100 most beautiful beaches in Japan’ would be a mixture of the two.

Stepping off the train in Takeno we once again demonstrated our inability to pay attention to the weather and time things correctly: clear blue skies and the midday sun had us worrying about where we’d buy hats and hire umbrellas when we got to the beach. The scenery was absolutely stunning, verdant volcanic mountains surrounded us on all sides and low-rise wooden houses lined the road. The siren call of the sea in the distance made us forget about the sun burning us to a crisp.

We arrived at the stunning beach and managed to hire a couple of umbrellas that the seller buried deep into the sand to guard against the hurricane-force wind. It didn’t take long for us to run for the shallow and lip-puckeringly salty sea — it was almost impossible to sink to the sea-floor — and while it definitely helped to cool us down we spent most of our time under our umbrellas and trying to make ourselves comfortable.

The japanese word for ‘hot’ is atsui (暑) and we amused ourselves for some time watching kids running across the sand jumping from foot to foot like geckos exclaiming: Atsui! Atsu.! Atsu.! Atsu.! Ats..! Ats..! Ats..!

Amused ourselves right up until the point we had to run the gauntlet, anyway.

Pining for air-conditioning, we made our way back to Toyooka and did something I’m not proud of. Up until this point I think we’d generally been quite adventurous with our food, but we weren’t well and really didn’t feel like eating out, so we headed to a large supermarket close to our hotel and spent nearly £40 on fruit, vegetables, cereal, ritz biscuits, chocolate and crisps and went back to our hotel room to veg out.

Yes, dear reader: this is the night I shaved a carrot with a hotel razor.

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