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The Beach... of Japan

Avatar reference, the real one (the cartoon The Last Airbender), not M-night's or Cameron's)


This morning we checked out of our hostels and headed to Hyogo prefecture to stay with Mochan!'s friend from Canada.


First stop:

The Sea of Japan



Yeah, thats Bjarke already in the ocean in his boxers. And thats Eelke and I... thinking about it.


Thats Nono, not thinking about it, just stripping down and doing it (the water was really cold!)


Eelke and Elaina singing one of Eelke's favorite songs. I believe it may be a song in Yiddish, but I'm not sure. Elaina learned the melody and the words (even though she doesn't know the language) about 10 min. after this first shot at it. (Yeah, she is really a professional singer.)

Then we left Nono and Joe to hike up to the top of the local mountains so we could see the land bridge we were standing on from a more panoramic view. Mochan! drove us to the trail entrance, then we had about a 20 min stair climb to the top.


Bjarke ran up the stairs, then passed us on his way back down the stairs on his way to run across the land bridge. The rest of us, 3 breaks ladder, finally made it to the top.


Then Mochan! told us that we had to look at the land bridge from between our legs...


I guess he wasn't kidding. And here is the platform you are actually supposed to do it on:


(The cement block behind the bench on the right next to the post.)

And then we would be able to see the swimming dragon.


This rock was cool, all the letters have a silver glint b/c people stuck money inside for good luck:


Then we went back down the stairs and hopped on the Wish Bus to head back to the parking lot to meet up with Nono, Joe, and Bjarke. When we get there about 5 minutes late, none of the boys are there. "Maybe they got confused b/c we weren't here?" Mochan! and I jogged back to the beach to see if we could find them. "I'll run and look at the shoreline, you check the men's restroom." I called to Mochan! as we hit the forest of pine trees right next to the beach. No luck, and then we heard voiced. "I hear Be-ya-ka" (Mochan!'s pronunciation always makes Bjarke laugh, although I don't know why. Its close enough I think. European's are funny that way. Maybe they're just jealous that American names are taught more in English classes so they are easier to pronounce. At least he isn't Ba-ne-sa. Well, I'm not either, b/c everyone can pronounce Re-i-n.") The guys were all eating noodles together at a little shop! "I've been trying to get them to hurry up." Joe said in his own defense. "Ri-ight."

Then we drove to Mochan!'s Canadian friend's place.


We basically came in, said hi, dropped our stuff off, and then Adam ran us all over to his hometown's tourist attraction. He backed out of his driveway (which was a bridge over their little canal) faster than I would recommend going forward, and then he bolted out of his development at a speed that Mochan! couldn't possibly ever catch up with since he also had to turn the bus around before he could head out.

About 2 minutes down there road we got out and followed Adam up a few flights of stairs to these basalt rock formations that first lead scientists to ponder the idea of the Earth's magnetic poles possibly shifting and even flipping from time to time. Japan was created much like Hawaii, from volcanic eruptions, and these basalt formations formed and cracked in a similar fashion to the hexagonal pillars you find in Ireland at Giant's causeway or in Wyoming at Devil's Tower. However, these ones were formed at a time the magnetic poles were shifting and they carried an inherent nature to always form angling towards the north, and here are the results:


And that is only the first location. Moving on down the path, there are even more spectacular displays of Geology:


(Above picture I like to call, "Story of My Life.")

Then we hopped back on the Wish Bus and continued to drive another 20 minutes or so north of Toyooka to Kinosaki which we've been told is a quaint little village known for its many hot springs and Onsen's (baths).


This next pic I took as we crossed over a very long one way bridge. I thought it would have been cheeper to just make one bride wider, but apparently it was better to make multiple bridges very narrow.


And then we hit town, and everyone was out with the cameras! The entire city was walking around in their Kimono's with their little wooden slippers that have the 2 blocks of wood on the bottom. None of us really got any good shots off b/c Mochan! parked the bus too quickly, and we were all ashamed to take pictures of people around this little town, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Or Joe's: "Oh my god! We have to come back here!" Referring to after the trip with Mochan! Joe has already decided one of our stops.


Then Adam's wife Shinobu (Adam had to go to work) explained to us that people staying in the hotels here can get passes to all the Onsen's, and it is popular to walk from Onsen to Onsen wearing your Japanese bathrobes. So that was why all the people in the town had their robes and traditional shoes on. Because, they too, were tourists.

She led us through the town to her favorite Onsen:

Notice the hexagonal rocks lining the fence:

Adam told us that this was one of the reasons that place was recently made into a national park b/c so many people were removing stones from it to use as bricks since they were so abundant and conveniently cut into little building blocks.


We hung out here for about an hour, and then some of us walked around the city while we waited for Joe (in his defense, he missed that we said we would meet a half hour before Mochan! was going to meet us to drive us back so we could walk through town together.) Bjarke came out with a nasty grin on his face. "He is still doing naked Kung Fu by the waterfall. All the little old guys are getting quite the show."


That evening Mochan! drove us to Adam's restaurant The Sticks and we drank and met some more local Japanese friends!


I sat between Mochan and this little girl:


She didn't speak any English, but I think we got along really well.


But some of us couldn't afford to buy the alcohol at the restaurant, so we made frequent stops to the bus to refill on the beer and plum wine we had already gotten from the local convenient store.


All the guys kept wondering, "What are you girls doing out there?" we played it on like it was a big girl secret.

Then, montage of how these two acted on this trip:


And, the last one I refrained from photographing, but it ended in smooches. Bjarke and Elaina were very proper last night when they slept over the Japanese guy's house, but the Vietnamese couple who spent the night there too swears that they are together. Elaina and I were casually talking about it on the bus while drinking and filling up her water bottle. "I say go for it! Your a hottie, he's a hottie, and you have one more night to be hotties together." I am blunt, what can I say. I just warned her not to go and do something that she may feel hurt by the next day when Bjarke acts like nothing happened, not to say that I knew something like that would happen, but just in case. You have to commit to what your getting into, which since she lives in America, and he currently lives in China, and she was leaving tomorrow to say goodbye to Japanese relatives, was going to be a one nighter.

Back in the bar:


These are all the Japanese girls freaking out about Nono's T-shirt:


Girls: "Gundom!"
Nono: "Yeah, maybe, I dunno,"
Girls: "Do you know Japanese Anime?"
Nono: "Yeah, I watch some."
Girls: "Which ones?!"
Nono listed all the ones he could possibly think of, and they were all with English names, so the Japanese girls were loosing their faith in us foreigners, so I did what any anime watcher from America would do. I named the Japanese fav of being the first and most originally Japanese gundom (big robot costume) fighting anime.
The freaked, and everything was cool again. Nono was talking about the movie at the end, and how tripped out it was, and the girls were just eating it up. Call me match maker.


Then we were all getting a bit tired, so Shinobu took the first group of us back to her place. (Mochan! was drunk and therefore sleeping at the restaurant, so we couldn't take the bus back.) Then about 2 hours latter, I was falling fast, and Adam took the second round of us back to his place. We couldn't all fit, so Meri had to sit on Esa's lap, and I crawled into the hatchback's trunk, which would have been fine, if Adam wasn't a crazy driver!


We made it!

Posted by - Rain 00:38

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