Traditional Japanese house with stone wall and pine trees in the background © 2011 Jordan Harper. All rights reserved.

Fear and loathing in Toyooka

Day 7 — 4 August 2010

Another Japanese breakfast. The tea was (once again) fantastic, but at this point I’d pretty much had my fill of even the things that I’d almost gotten used to. Maybe I’m remembering it particularly harshly because this morning I was feeling ill with a capital Immodium (which, incidentally, it’s impossible to buy without a prescription in Japan, so if you ever visit, forget to take some at your peril).

Great day to be feeling terrible, when there’s a 350km journey ahead on three separate trains — although at least being on trains meant there was air conditioning.

After our wonderful hosts at Hangetsuan — I’ll always be sorry I wasn’t in better spirits for our stay there — called us a taxi and waved us off, we took a quick Shinkansen to Hiroshima, where we changed onto another Shinkansen to Himeji (famous for it’s 400 year-old hilltop castle) where we caught a local train heading due north to the town of Toyooka (豊岡市). The best reason to be in Toyooka is its proximity to the beautiful Takenohama (Takeno beach) — just a thirty minute train ride. So Toyooka (and Takeno) was where we’d come to have our ‘chill out’ part of the holiday. Very little to do apart from lie around on the beach and relax.

As was becoming customary at this point, our welcome at the small hotel we stayed at in Toyooka was exceedingly warm. The receptionist had prepared us (unasked) a pile of paperwork with train-times to the beach highlighted, maps of local interest with English translations written on in biro and a few notes about the hotel and Toyooka hand-written. While I was trying to thank her for the effort she’d gone to, I was interrupted by a wave of nausea that caused me to run to the reception toilet and promptly pass out. I awoke a few seconds later in a cold sweat, white as a sheet and in a state of complete ruin.

I managed to get myself — or should I say that Liz managed to get me — to our room where I collapsed in a heap on the bed. After making sure I hadn’t completely blown a gasket she went out to buy some supplies from the local Lawson (a chain of stores that has as weird a history as you’re ever likely to read). I didn’t eat much.

Now given the fact that Liz was still feeling pretty ill herself at this point, I can’t possibly overstate how awesome she was that evening. I’m a lucky man.

The photo I’ve ‘chosen’ is a Hipstamatic iPhone shot I took on the train from Himeji to Toyooka. It’s pretty much all I have from this disaster of a day. I feel ill just thinking about it. See you tomorrow.

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