Thursday, May 30, 2013

Good Morning Fukui and Bye

I accidentally drove into the heart of Fukui and it was getting late. I wanted to be by the shore so I could find a parking area to rest my heavy feet and pass out. I turned the car west and randomly drove toward the sea. I really wanted to bathe and out of the corner of my eye I spied a board advertising just that. It was a dark looking onsen hotel that maybe never had better days from the beginning.

The bath was nothing to speak of but I felt good to be clean after my hiking around Amanohashidate. After the bath I was driving yet again to find a resting place for the night when I remembered my camera batteries were all dead. There was no way I could show up to Kenrokuen the following morning with dead batteries. Out went the notion to sleep by the sea. I found a rest area and made sure there was an outlet somewhere outside where I could charge my batteries in the middle of the night. Success. When morning hit I was up and running to Ishikawa but not before revving up my body with a short walk.

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The map had shown me this spot as something of worth. It might have been. Well, yes it was.

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Rocks. Water. Perfect.

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Some other curious travelers greeted me and then gave me a friendly warning "Don't fall off. It's dangerous being alone." I should have pretended I was going to fall off in that moment. I'm too righteous in my split second thinking however.

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My face says it well. I hobbled over the rocks and breathed in the crisp sea air. My favorite was the man who was fishing out on a lonely rock. He was probably just as happy to be there as I was watching him. I often have such moments.

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 In the quiet morning light, before any crowd reared their faces, it felt like a ghost town there.


Old tourism buildings feel so sad even if they are still alive. Testaments to changing time and decay of life.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Matsushima is Left

After a serene morning wandering around Ine I was a bit apprehensive to go to Amanohashidate. I knew I was going to meet vast crowds who would fight me for personal space.

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As the sign boldly proclaims, it's a very famous beauty spot. I don't know who conceived the list in the first place but as someone would later point out to me, Japan likes lists of things. There are best dances, best gardens, best festivals, and so on. Since Amanohashidate was along my way it was a no brainer to stop.

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So what makes it so beautiful? The several kilometer long sandy spit with pine trees that connects both sides of the bay. I was going to walk across to the other side but after walking around all morning in Ine I decided to rent a bike. I don't think I've ever rented a bicycle while traveling. As I pedaled across the first bridge onto the lengthy sand bar and with every crank of the pedals I beamed.

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The shade of the trees blew cool air on my skin. I weaved in and out of people with my black hood snug around my head like a little black riding hood on a bike.

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I made it to the other side and tried to find a park spot for the bike so I could hike up to the viewing platform. No luck. I found an old hiking trail that was steeped in mounds of leaves and fallen branches. I was able to stash the bike at the entrance and hike up. The sweat poured and poured. But at last I found my way to the main view point.

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It's nice. I guess. But you have to look at it upside down and get your picture taken to commemorate the event. Some friendly Japanese man was talking my ear off while another foreigner snapped my wonderful pose.

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In my reflection of such moments I ask myself why I gave heed to doing what was expected. Well, specifically to make sure I didn't let anyone down when they ask if I did. I once had an uncle who scoffed at me for not having a graduation party in high school. That hurt me inside.

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My bike time was nearing the limit so I briskly crossed the sand spit.

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The trusty mama bike served me well. The shop owner tried to make me pay 100 extra yen for coming back late but she was just poor at math. I protested and pulled out my phone to show her the time. I wasn't about to let her tell me I was late and had made others wait. It's just the principle of the matter.

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I was glad to be back on the road again. I ate an ice cream bar as I rolled through Obama. I found myself looking over the bay from some nearby mountains.

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Obama really loved Barrack running for president back in 2008. There is no tell tale sign of that anywhere on the surface however. There were so many mountains and peninsulas I could have explored but the day was wearing thin and I wanted to press toward Ishikawa. I loaded up some Tycho on the DS and traveled into the night. String cheese euphoria washed through my blood and put me to sleep.

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Ine Due Time

After the morning stroll out to the light house I continued along the coast line down to the village of Ine.

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This village wraps around the natural harbor snugly. Even in stormy weather the water level barely rises as indicated by a sign. But it isn't the harbor that makes this village famous.

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The seagulls were scavenging for the early morning fish remains while the workers packed up crates of fish bound for the shops of JR Kyoto.

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Fishing ports and harbors feel like garbage dumps. The refuse of labor you could say.

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I was quite pleased as I strolled the narrow road along the coast. Houses on the left and right. Early morning risers like myself greeted me with cheery smiles. But Ine is known for the garages that are directly connected to the water. I'm not sure these exist hardly any other place in Japan.

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After exchanging another good morning with a local she directed me to a couple cutting up fish.

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What was more surprising, the foreigner or the fact he came from Kochi by car?

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I stood on what looked the top of castle wall and watched this man peering into the shallows with a large viewing piece. It's easy to lose yourself in the mind of the locals for a moment. Just that moment.

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It's the biggest charm of the village.

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Take my word for it. If you don't keep your bamboo mats dry you will regret it. However, what is the point of airing futons all the time in the sun? To kill mold? To freshen with UV?

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Ine was truly a little treat I didn't plan to visit when I had conceived my trip. It's those things that awaken the smile in my heart. But it was time to push on for my view of the floating world. So we leave Ine here.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Shoot the Birds Down!

After leaving Kinosaki and rambling over roads unknown in the dark I arrived at my resting spot for the night. I kept thinking one road after another was the road that would spit me out at a beach parking lot. I hit a few dead ends and gave the late night farmers bewilderment on their faces when I pulled a u-turn in the most unlikely of spots. I eventually found a path and rolled onto a short dune near the shore of the Japanese sea. It got cold but the waves lulled me to sleep.

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The early morning light woke me. There was no sense in trying to sleep more. The peninsula in the distance was beckoning me near. Sleeping there on that beach was freeing. So often with traveling the question of lodging is wearisome. But with my trusty car, anywhere was my bed.

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Red in morning sailors take warning. That old saying was no foreshadowing for the day however. The morning never found the strength to brew a storm.

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A pair of monkeys was up to no good but pleasantly posed for a photo.

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I found a walking path to an old light house. Once again it was quite the climb. My sweat profusely climbed out my pores.

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Seeing these light houses make me feel a little nostalgic. I want to see the beautiful ones of the great lakes. I can't say I ever saw many but they have a style all their own. Was it Reading Rainbow where Levar visited one? The man living inside built ships in bottles. It seemed the perfect life.

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I was half expecting these bird watchers to kill the birds with their massive lenses. I don't think I've ever seen such serious bird watchers/photographers before.

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And remember, this is Japan. HI GUYZ WAZZUP!?

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Quick Glimpse of Kinosaki

After the wonderful day at the dunes and perusing the coastline I rolled into Kinosaki. Kinosaki is famous for its several onsens (hot springs). If I had been staying at a ryokan there I might have done what everyone else does. That is they wear yukata and sample all the onsens. Click clacking away in their geta. I felt a bit out of place by myself there. Maybe a bit lonely.

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For the holiday it wasn't very busy. I was expecting many more people. My biggest problem was finding a place to eat. Most people eat at their inn. I felt a bit on the outside of it all.

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Also a bit tired to take pictures. I had fired my camera like a machine gun for the better part of the day leaving me uninspired. I did eat something and I did enter an onsen. I was unimpressed however with the bath.

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If I was with someone I wouldn't mind visiting again someday. It has a quaint charm to it. Then I remind myself I would rather be looking out over a valley in a rotenburo somewhere in the Japanese alps. I'm drawn to isolation but my heart says give me someone. What a contradiction I am.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Uradome Kaigan

After feeling giddy from the splendid weather and stroll around the sand dunes, I got in the car to follow the coast line all the way to Kinosaki. I had no idea what it would look like and figured I would be pleasant surprised along the way.

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I rolled up to a pretty little spot and noticed from the nearby map that there was a Geo Park running a long length of the coast line. I ALMOST kept driving, reminding myself there was always so much to see. I crushed that thought to pieces the next instant. I hadn't come all the way from the land of four kingdoms to not see all that I could.

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The rocks had lovely shades of brown and orange tinges. The sky was a deep blue. The water a emerald swirl of whites and complimenting hues.

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One regret of mine from the trip is that I didn't try to capture more candid moments of the environment and people. I have been contemplating that relation a lot recently.

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The Geo Park in Kochi is quite flat and easily winds amongst the craggy sea rocks. There was no telling from the map what kind of ups and downs I would have to commit to.

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You have to give to receive. You have to give your body to the malevolent gods of nature.

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That sounds a bit heretic.

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I was breathing hard and the sweat had soaked through my back. I couldn't have been grinning wider.

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The trail kept going on past the light house to another point of interest. I descended the path a few yards and scoffed. I wasn't going to let those malevolent beings get the best of me. With a gulp of water I turned back to enjoy the views some more.

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It was nice to get back to the car and move forward.

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Lots of sunlight was left but it would soon fade.

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It gently put the weary fishing villages to sleep.

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I guess Korea doesn't feel so far away now.

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