Journal 20081011 Japan

We went for the later breakfast time of 8.00am, but it was still an early rise at 7.30am, when they cleared our beds in preparation. I was still groggy while consuming my raw fish. The breakfast was huge and filling, and we knew that we wouldn’t require much for lunch.

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The overcast was clearing during our morning stroll along the beach, en route to the outdoor, public onsen, Sakino-yu. We managed to walk past it, as I expected it to be elevated, on some hill overlooking the sea. Instead, we found the correct narrow road along the sea level. We went into our respective segregated baths. To be honest, the view from my side was alright, but not something I’d write home about. What made up for it was a friendly man, perhaps about 50 years old, who engaged me in some kind conversation. He made me smile, and I regretted my Japanese wasn’t better. Afterwards, I sneaked a photo of the onsen from the outside, and there he was, standing naked on the rocks facing the sea; it suited his personality well.

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I did tell Madame Oui to take her time, and suggested an hour at the onsen. I finished my bathing in about 45 minutes, and 15 minutes later I felt compelled to summon her, if only because the aforementioned naked man was now dressed and must have said to me as he left, “You’re still here?” Madame Oui came out and told me some Japanese lady came up to her in bad English, “Your husband…”. Madame Oui said that she was tempted to wave her off, and to be fair, I would have understood her if she had. Madame Oui said that the women’s onsen had three levels (mine had two), and that the lowest level was practically at the sea, which she enjoyed very much. She said that she could have stayed there all day. Sounded like the women get the better deal at Sakino-yu.

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I persuaded Madame Oui to walk another mile to Senjō-jiki (Thousand Tatmi Mat Point). Our mutual first impression was that this was a Japanese version of Giant’s Causeway, The view was wonderful. I got us an ice cream sandwich, then another, as we sat and simply relaxed and enjoyed the view. We enjoyed this site, and stayed until the increasing number of coaches and visitors told us we were wise getting here sooner rather than later. We didn’t have to wait long at all for the quick bus journey home.

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On a large outdoor map at Senjō-jiki, there was a temple that was translated as Seashell Museum. This could be a good place to find something local and seaside for my mom. Madame Oui was happy to wait for me in the hotel room while I went out to discover. Again, I walked right past my desired location and even past landmark Engetsujima Island before I realised I had gone too far, having walked for 30 minutes. While backtracking, I saw above me a soaring eagle so beautfiul and majestic, flying relatively low with its wings fully spanned, displaying its brown, black and white patterned feathers. Once again, I was so mesmerised I failed to get my camera out in time. Perhaps I’ll remember some of these moments more than the ones I take photos of.

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I found the “seashell museum”, which was simply Honkakuji Temple: a temple with two large shells at its entrance. Poor translation here then. But it gave me an opportunity to take some photos of some Buddist idols, up close. And I took some of the two shells, too.

By the time I got back to our hotel an hour had passed, and I expected Madame Oui to be irate. But instead she was napping and not mad at all. Our plan was to go to the beach, and now that the sun was falling, it wouldn’t be too hot. We changed into our swim gear, which for me meant a dark pair of underwear, but it looked convincing enough! The beach was literally a minute from our hotel (one advantage than Hotel Green Hill), and I promptly dove right in. What did I care that I was the only one of the hundred at the beach, in the water. It felt great, and I enjoyed my 30-minute swim. Madame Oui didn’t want to swim, but she did wade in to feel the Pacific Ocean. We could scarcely believe that we got some sun, sand and swim this year, and in mid-October. We agreed that we like our beach holidays.

We returned to the beach for another sunset and another stroll to the northern point. We sat and again enjoyed the colours of dusk.

Our en suite Japanese dinner was another huge offering. The main course was a 15-inch diameter place of thinly sliced beef, for sukiyaki. I recorded a short video of our hostess demonstrating how to cook the beef. We decided not to dip items into the offered raw eggs, but fried them instead. She returned at one point, and saw what we had done. We were partly embarrassed when she again explained that the eggs were for dipping items into, “Japanese style”; we replied that we like “Irish style”! She laughed with us, but then we later joked she probably went back to the kitchen and told all of our backward manners. We did feel bad, though, that we had no room left to eat the beautifully displayed sasumi, and apologised to our hostess.

She told us about the “special illumination” at the beach this evening, and gave us an advertising flyer. As it finished at 9pm, we promptly went out to investigate. It indeed was another spectacle. There were at about 1,000 paper bags lined up in vertical rows, each with a lit candle inside. The effect was a glitter of orange dots along the entire half-mile long stretch of beach. I did my best to capture this on camera and video. Madame Oui found an isolated bag, and I took some photos of “Madame Oui’s bag”. We sat and admired this presentation until promptly at 9pm volunteers began blowing out the candles.

Back at the hotel, Madame Oui went for her hotel onsen experience while I decided to stay and relax. When she returned, she described how the women had a selection of baths, and she even found a large outdoor, elevated hot tub. Madame Oui said that the photos in the hotel flyer were accurate, and that perhaps we should have spent more time discovering what was on offer. I agreed, but added that at least at Matsumoto, the staff there gave us a tour when we arrived, which helped us learn what was available. Madame Oui said that she enjoyed her onsen.

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