Since autumn is here and I’m just about to start teaching again, I thought I would revisit the glories of summer. Sometime in July, Yo-chan and I took the train to Takeno Hama, which is on the Nihonkai (Japan Sea) side of the island. It was a pretty long train ride — three hours each way — and we had to get the train at around 6:00 in the morning to make sure that we made all the proper connections.
Riding on older trains is one of the great pleasures of touring to more out of the way destinations in Japan. This — the train that took us all the way to the beach — was the second train that we rode.
Yo-chan looks sleepily out at the morning light.
Of course, there were lots of families taking the train to the beach, and lots of sleepy people on the warm train. This kid was relaxing with his Ultraman.
This is a shot of the covered passage that leads from one platform to the other at Takeno station. I love these kinds of older public constructions and the textures of light and decay that so often go with them.
Takeno is really popular with families — probably because the water is clear, shallow, and there’s a protected swimming area. I enjoyed walking up and down the beach watching kids dig in the sand.
The beach itself is protected from the ocean proper by a seawall made of giant concrete Jumbo Jacks. I swam out to the wall, where people an inner tubes relaxed until jumping into the deeper water on the other side. This was actually a pretty tiring prospect since I’m terribly out of shape. I didn’t realize until later that there was a strip of water leading from the beach that was shallow enough that I could have walked it. While I was resting on the concrete pilings I met a truck driver — who called himself “J-Boy” — and his friends. They were diving for urchins and fish. He offered me a fresh sea urchin, but unfortunately it got knocked into the water and disappeared before I could take a bite. Zanen.
Boating, and tubing, and snorkeling were all very popular activities at Takeno. My favorite were the girls with perfectly coiffed hair and precision makeup who spent the day tubing in the water while making damn sure not to get anything above their necks wet. I spent a little time with Yo-chan’s diving mask, looking at the fish and the ocean vegetation. Since the mask didn’t fit me quite right, however, I kept having to surface to dump out the water, which became tiring.
Here’s a late afternoon view of the mountain that defines the curvature of Takeno’s small bay.
Although this looks like a tire, it’s actually an inner tube that’s cleverly painted to look like a tire. This shot was taken from inside one of the several beach houses where, for a fee, you can take a shower, change your clothes, and store valuables. There are also beachside restaurants where you can buy kaki-goori, which is a kind of shaved ice with syrup (and sometimes condensed milk). The ice comes in blocks (like giant cubes) and it is then shaved on a kind of rotisserie machine as you watch. It’s kind of like an ice lathe. And the flavor is really delicious. The SnoCone is definitely outshined and melts into pathetic obscurity.
Takeno isn’t just a beach town, it’s also a fishing town. Yo-chan and I decided to take the back way back to the station so we could check out the fishing boats.
Here’s a view of the part of Takeno that most resembles the phrase “fishing village.”
A fishing boat heads out to sea as dusk begins to fall. They’re fishing for squid, which is why they go out at night — the lights attract the squid, which are then netted. One of my students who is from somewhere in this area has described the yearly phenomenon of squid fluorescence to me. Apparently for a couple of weeks every year you can go out on boats, where you eat and drink and relax, and drift amid schools of glowing squid.
Here’s a closer view of the lights that are used to bring the squid in. These bulbs are really enormous — kind of about the same size as a milk jug. Milk light for milk squid.
Filed under: culture, daily life, eating, Japan, personal, society, travel | 4 Comments
Tags: かき氷, ホタルイカ, beach, coast, 竹浜, digging in the sand, 蛍イカ, fishing, inner tubes, Japan Sea, kakigoori, luminescence, Nihonkai, ocean, Sea of Japan, seashore, squid, summer, Takeno Beach, Takenohama, tetrapods, the glow, trains, 日本海, 池