A Travellerspoint blog

Saunas and the Sand

This morning we slept in late with both Adam and Shinobu, then made plans to see the Tottori Dunes! This was their main suggestion to see when we were last in Toyooka, but we couldn't since we were on schedule with the Wish Bus. But before the sand dunes they told us that we simply had to see the best onsen in Hyogo Prefecture. But first, first, first, we went to breakfast where we would get the very famous potato soba noodles (this, just after the fame of Genbudo Park, the geologic site made of hexagonal basalt pillars).

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That guy is apparently a Japanese spirit animal who has vastly large balls which give restaurants good fortune. Don't ask me why or how, because Adam didn't really seem to know, and if Shinobu knew, she wasn't telling.

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Our breakfasts that consisted of cold soba noodles all folded properly on a plate with a raised wooden drying rack, a bowl of hot soup, and several small trays of sauces and garnishes. We also had small iron cups filled with green tea.

After breakfast we drove over to the next city north, parked in the hot sun, excitedly chatted about getting inside and basking in the glow of indoor relaxation under waterfalls (with swimsuits! Joe and my first onsen we could actually spend time together at! Yay for no nudity!) Then, climbing the stairs to the front doors that should open automatically... maybe they are broke. Adam tries the old fashioned way... then Shinobu explains the sign. He and Shinobu start arguing in Japanese, mostly about it being closed today, but also about how he can read Japanese. (I could read it too) When Adam gets mad, there isn't really much you can do but stay quiet and let him talk it out of himself. So we went back to the car as he explained the irregularity of this particular onsen's operation, and how it was particularly un-Japanese because of its western tourist appeal... and then Shinobu turned everything almost around by suggesting we spend some time in the hot river for free just down the road where we could buy eggs to boil with our feet (the hot river only had a place for your feet, not full bathing).

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The picture above is of the racks where we hung the baskets with our eggs in it.

Then here are the hot and cold water foot baths you could use for free while you waited for your eggs to boil.

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And the storks come here to get lunch too, apparently the coy fish love the hot volcanic rivers.

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After our feet were so red we could barley walk, we headed out to the dunes! Adam, as usual, was driving crazy fast, and, not so uncommon, there was a police speed trap we got caught in! Basically an old man (1. old people are more expendable, you'll see why that is relevant in a second, and 2. old people need work, so they keep their same job all their life, just changing from being promoted to more responsibility, to sitting around appearing as helpful as their age allows) stands on the side of the road in his police uniform, then he casually walks out into speeding traffic, hopefully forcing them to stop, and then he directs them into the parking lot set up specifically just for the police van. Yes, the police are so efficient in this country that they have a traveling camper van set up where you sit down, discuss the ticket, and then move to the next desk and pay the ticket, wham bam, and your done. Efficient to say the very least. Joe and I waited in the car while Adam and Shinobu went into the van for about 10 minutes sorting out the paperwork. The cool thing, Adam brought up, was now he got to show a couple of couchsurfers how the Japanese police system works! He also let us see his stamp. Everyone in Japan who is a resident will have a stamp with their name on it. This is their signature. They don't sign the bottom of documents with a pen and paper, they have this little tube that looks like lipstick that they must keep on them at all times that acts as their personalized signature that nobody can forge. Of course, this form of identity theft is forgeable just like a hand written signature, only the stamp needs a bit more preplanning.

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But finally, we made it to the little town with the dunes! And... we were hungry again. Come on! We only had noodles and eggs so far today! So we went to a cafe and split a couple of pizzas (very Japanese... yeah, I love Japan, they have all sorts of different foods here). Then we crossed under the chair lift (like a ski lift, but for beach bums), and we hiked our way to the beach.

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Adam teaching us how to go down a sand dune:

The day was moving from ridiculously hot to being a bit brisk as the wind off the ocean was chilly and it brought with it these ominous clouds, so Shinobu and I opted to tan on the beach while the boys went wild ripping off their shirts and jumping vigorously into the bitter cold water of the Sea of Japan.

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We hung out here for a few hours while Joe and Adam splashed around, Shinobu tanned, and I went hunting for shells (and yes, I still have those shells to this day! Customes takes everything from Joe, but me, naah)

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On the ride home, I'm not sure how Adam saw this with the pace he was driving, but he somehow spotted this amazing little nook with these jagged rocks and crazy beautiful colored water, so we took a little detour trip to explore (I love Japan!).

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Then back on the road, Adam took us the scenic rout through some fishing villages so we could see as much of Japan as possible while we stayed with him (really an amazing person, I can't stress that point enough).

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Posted by - Rain 01:01

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Comments

I'm glad you're posting again! I've been missing these entries! Those were some nice dune shots. What kind of camera are you using now?

by laurr

Do you remember how pissed that old policeman was? Adam was driving so fast he almost ran him over. I was like WTF when he jumped out in the road with his hand out. You remember how later me and adam went over and talked to him and he went from stern and angry to cool and smiling?

by Joe Witkin

Same camera, I'm just posting the pictures full size b/c I found out people aren't really looking through the picture albums. So I'm posting more of the pictures on the blog, and posting them full sized.

by - Rain

beautiful pics! i love the egg cooking!

by georgir

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