A weekend on the coast

Feeling a little sleepy–the only other person in the staffroom is the secretary because there’s a meeting for all full-time teachers right now, so there’s a sleepy atmosphere in here right now. This is very much a pure-and-simple recap.

I left Saturday in the late morning to drive down to Mugi, 4 hours away on the southeastern side of Tokushima. I stopped for lunch in Kamojima and then got a message from Bessie, the Mugi ALT, asking if I wanted Indian curry for dinner, because Rory and Tracy were catching a train down. I got to Hiwasa, the town north of Mugi, about 20-30 minutes before everybody, which let me walk around and stretch after such a long drive. I then met up with Bessie and we waited for Rory and Tracy to arrive a few minutes later, and we had what I would deem to be hippie Indian curry (but preferable to the Japanese-style Indian curry at Masala) at Anand. Stephane came in while we were there, too, so the five of us hung out for a while. We then dropped my car off at Bessie’s and gave Tracy and Rory a ride down to Kainan, where they were staying at Randy’s house, and then went back to her place and talked past 1 AM.

On Sunday we got a lazy start and then went down to Ikumi Beach just across the Tokushima-Kochi border, where we met up with Bessie’s friend Louisa, an Aussie who’s married to a Japanese man. The three of us hung out and chatted for a bit, and then I went to dig my toes into the sand and wade around in the water a little bit. It was my first time on a beach since probably 2002-03, whenever I went to Jacksonville with Laura over spring break. The weather was gorgeous and the water was a really good temperature, and the sand just felt awesome. We then got a snack and Louisa left to go with her husband and their friends to change into their wetsuits to go surfing, and the two of us walked the length of the beach, picking up shells and pointing out jellyfish and snapping photos. We climbed onto a jetty formed from old coral and rocks and watched Louisa and her friends surf for a bit. Afterwards, we went to Shirahama Beach for a little bit and tossed around my frisbee, but we didn’t stay for long because the sand was pretty cluttered with rocks and shells and sharp things, and there was a yakuza car there.

We then went to a local cafe that’s like the Paparagi of the south and ate a lot of food and lounged around there, as she messaged Noam in Hanoura and Jim in Hiwasa to see if they’d be up for karaoke that night. After a day in the sun and our tummies full of good food, we went to have a brief siesta at her apartment, which turned into a 2-hour nap, which was only interrupted by my JTE calling and then Noam messaging Bessie back. We got up, freshened up, and headed to Hanoura to meet Noam and a friend of his whose name I can’t remember–a Japanese girl, really sweet, with a wonderful singing voice. The karaoke place we went to was right next to a Mos Burger, and you could even order Mos Burger food from inside the karaoke booths, so we got a booth and ordered dinner and started singing by the time Noam and his friend arrived. I think we spent 3 hours there in all, but it was a really good and fun session. Noam and Bessie are great people to do karaoke with.

On Monday, I got an early start and left Bessie’s apartment by 9:30. After stopping by a bank and gas station, I started what would end up being a 6-hour drive along the southeastern coast of Shikoku. From Mugi I went south, across the Kochi border, with the ocean almost constantly at my left, and before long I was driving on a road with a completely unobstructed view of the ocean directly to my left. The mountains rose directly from the sea and the road was built into them, so less than 100 feet to my left was the Pacific Ocean for the better part of 2 hours. I also saw this really amazing sight, something I’d never seen before–it was like a rainbow reflected in a cloud hanging over the sea, but it was just the spectrum of colors, and not an actual arc. I couldn’t stop staring at it. There were plenty of temple pilgrims walking down to temple 24 on the point of Shikoku that day as well, and I saw one look to his left, see the rainbow-cloud, and stop dead in his tracks.

I arrived at Muroto a bit shy of noon, and went to visit Hotsumisaki-ji, the temple situated right on the southeastern point of Shikoku. It was surprising to see how many temple pilgrims were out that day–there was a line leading out the door of the henro center. After that, I checked out the view from the lighthouse actually on the physical point. A bit of it was obscured, but you could definitely see a panorama of nothing but ocean. I snapped a bunch of photos with the hopes of piecing them together into a panoramic image. Before long, I was on my way again, heading west along Kochi’s south coast. There were towns clustered along the south, with many ports and shipping and fishing facilities, so the drive wasn’t nearly as beautiful, but it was still nice. I made it to Nangoku, just east of Kochi, by a little after two, and turned onto Route 32 (which eventually runs up through Iya and Yamashiro into Ikeda and on up to Takamatsu) and caught the expressway from there to Ikawa-Ikeda, arriving home around 3:30.

In all, I drove 10 hours this weekend, and close to 400km. It was so absolutely worth it for that view off the eastern coast of Kochi Prefecture, though, and for the relaxing time I was able to spend with Bessie lounging around and taking in some sun on the beach. I would love to go back again before I leave, but I’m definitely feeling fortunate that I made it down there once.

Yesterday classes started up again, and today I had one more shougakkou lesson (in which I taught my kids to haggle in a joking manner in English–thank you, GenkiEnglish!) before classes adjourned all over the west at noon for the aforementioned meeting. Tonight I’m hoping to meet up with some of the Awa crowd to watch Spiderman 3 (and have them fill me on Spiderman 2 over dinner, since I haven’t seen it yet), and I may be traveling somewhere “local” (in or near Tokushima) with some people over the break–a low-key trip, most likely a day-trip but possibly overnight, but something that definitely needs to be decided soon. I also have several phone calls to make while I have daytime hours at my disposal to contact friends back in the US at night–one about a design commission I’ll be starting on shortly, one to Laura, and one to Terry, who’s dead-set on coming to Japan in July with Ryan.

So…yeah. Busy times. This break should be a lot of fun, though, and for those of you who are about to kick off Golden Week where you are, have fun and happy travels!

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