Sunday, July 16, 2006

Our Wonderful, Bittersweet, Last, Full Day

We had an absolutely packed, but absolutely amazing last full day. We started by driving the 40 minutes to Shirahama. We wanted to start the day at this oceanside onsen resort town, enjoying a dip in the hot springs and a stroll along the white sand beach. The onsen is amazing. Jeff's and Joanne's favourite the whole trip. As you can see, (don't look too closely!) it's right on the ocean. If it's a windy enough day, the waves splash into the onsen. This one is strictly an outdoor bath, as usual segregated by sex. Even though we were there in the morning, it was still quite crowded. But the ocean view is breathtaking! There are a number of small pools, and if you get too hot, you can climb onto the rocks to cool down. (However, I think only the men do this!)

Here's Joanne and I lounging on the rocks by the ocean right after our bath.

And then we went to the beach. WOW! Can you believe this is in Japan?? Suddenly, we felt like we were walking around on some tropical island! The sand was so white, and the water was this perfect turquoise. Funny thing is, the current strip of white sand was imported from Australia after the original bit was washed away! I guess they just couldn't part with such a good thing...

After checking out Shirahama, we started on our last coastal drive. Our goal for the day was to drive along the coast from Shirahama to Shinguu. Then we planned to head back inland to Hongu for our last night. The LP listed a number of places to stop and admire the rugged scenery, and we spent our day doing just that. It's amazing how you can never tire of looking at jutting rocks and swirling sea. As Joanne put it, "Today rocks! We're rockin'!" Well said, my friend. ;)

This picture and the one above are of a set of rocks in Kushimoto known as "Hashi-kui-iwa." The Japanese say that the pillars look like hooded monks walking in line to a nearby island. To be honest, we saw the resemblance this time. Maybe all the travelling and imagining finally got to our brains!

After a tonkatsu dinner in Shinguu, we drove back to camp, making it in time for a soak in the Watarase rotemburo. This was one of my personal favourites of the trip. There is something completely breathtaking about quietly bathing in an outdoor bath at night. The baths were HUGE, more like small pools, really. At one point, I was alone in one, and I actually did swim! The night was peaceful, the stars were out. I found myself not wanting my time there to end. It was a very sentimental night for me, as I knew we were heading back to Ota and then soon to Canada.

After returning to the camp, each of us with one large can of beer in hand, we went and sat by the river to enjoy our last night. Jeff made a little fire for us to enjoy, and we bundled up to keep bugs at bay. I remember wanting so badly to remember each and every sensation from that night. I had completely fallen in love with the Wakayama area, with its perfect blend of ocean, onsens, mountains, rivers, and camping. I spent a few minutes focussing in turn on each of my five senses. I watched the ripple of moonlight in the river, the glowing of the fire, I tasted the bitter fuzziness of the beer, listened to the crackling, to the hushed voices, I smelled the smoke and the dampness, and felt the warmth of my hood and the flame.

I'd like to have that night back.


Joanne said...

I'd like to have you guys back in Japan!

Can't wait to see you guys in August.

Joanne said...

Come on girl. I wanna hear about the last night - by far the most wait am I really thinking it tops the love hotel? What do you think?