Sunday, 22 April 2012

Jodogahama Beach

Saturday 21st April 2012

Weather: A beautiful bright sunny day, with a strong breeze.

MP3 track of the day: Pure shores – All Saints

I found myself, within my apartment, with little to do; this was quite a surprise as I've been living within Miyako for over two weeks and, within that time, I've been very busy setting up my apartment, visiting my places of work and generally keeping myself busy with 'non-tourist stuff'. Looking outside the window, the skies were blue and the sun was beating down; even the weather was wishing for me to become a tourist once more. With my camera, coat and car keys in hand I ventured out.

Venturing out, just after midday, meant that I didn't want to travel far; luckily for me, one of Japan's most beautiful coastlines lay within a ten minute drive of my apartment. However, to get to the coast I had to drive through an area which reminded me of how destructive water could be; before making it to the coast I drove through a large area of rubble, foundations and bent traffic signs. Last March, a huge tsunami hit this coastline destroying everything within it's path. A year on, and most of the land has been cleared; however, with Japan having a shortage of flat land, and being located on one of the most violent tectonic areas within the world, there are still debates on what to do with this wasteland. As I drove further a couple of houses had been re-built; I saw an old woman – who had probably been living within this area all her life – tend to her potted plants; however her, fully functioning house was a rarity.

Eventually I left the lower flat land and found myself driving up hill to the main car park. Being such a beautiful day, and a weekend, I expected the car park to be busier than it was. I parked with ease and hurried to a nearby viewing platform.

The view was sensational; down below me I could see small waves breaking upon a small harbour. The water was so clear that I could see straight through it's blue-green colours. Looking up from the harbour, small rock formations were dotted within the sea and, to both my left and right, huge cliff faces, covered in trees, stood proud overlooking the scene. It was very beautiful.

As I stood on the platform, taking photos and gazing into the sea, I was interrupted by a Japanese lady who spoke English very well. She explained that this was a nice view, but the place to be was a fifteen minute walk north from here; the place was called Jodogahama Beach. She said I could take a free shuttle bus however, with it being such a lovely day, she recommend the walk along the road, which would provide observation points. I thanked her but, before leaving, I saw a tourist boat pull into the harbour; 'when I get paid, I'll have a trip on that', I thought to myself.

The walk was okay; huge trees provided shelter from the sun, but they also blocked a lot of good photo opportunities. As I walked further and further Jodogahama could be seen through the tree branches; this made me walk faster. Once at the beach I looked around; the beach it's self was a pebble beach. It was made up of a white stone that matched the surrounding hill faces and rocks. The water was crystal clear and beautiful rock formations were scatted within the water, creating a small protective pool (which you can swim in). On top of the rocks were dark, and light, green trees. As I stood there the bombardment of colour was incredible; the light blue skies, the dark and light green trees, the bright white rocks and the blue-green clear waters. I swung my tri-pod off my back, got my camera out and went to work.

After a good hour I stopped taking photos and just lay, on the beach, in the sun. I pictured myself coming down here after school. I would bring a bottle and either work, or read a book; it sounded like bliss.

The sun was going down and the other tourists were heading back to the free shuttle; I decided to walk back to the car park. Once there I put my camera and tri-pod within my car; I then headed into the tourist office where I met a very happy Japanese member of staff. Once he'd seen me he bolted upright, said 'hello how are you', in an 'over the top voice', and disappeared from the service window in which he had appeared. Thirty seconds later a door opened and out he came; in his hand was a small booklet, which he passed to me. He, once again, disappeared and I was left scanning the booklet which I had in my hand. After a brief look I noticed two things; firstly it was a booklet about this coast and secondly it was all in English, even the map (which is a rarity here). I decided to sit down and take a longer look at the booklet.

After another twenty minutes or so I discovered that this little book was an excellent find; it listed loads of places to see and had English directions. Once I get paid I shall be going to visit these attractions one by one. I left the tourist office, but not before saying thank you to the gentleman; once again he popped his head out of his service window and, with a big smile on his face, he said 'Thankyou. You have a good day!'. I bowed back and left.

Not feeling ready to leave the area just yet, I found a map detailing two observation points, close by to the tourist office. I followed the trials, only meeting a handful of people. The first observation point consisted of a concrete tower with stairs leading to the roof. The view was okay, but the trees blocked any decent chance of a good photo. The second observation point looked away from the coast and towards the city of Miyako; the view wasn't great, however it was quite a sheltered area and there were stone tables and chairs. This, I felt, would make a great place to read a book, or come up with friends to play games and have a chat.

After this the sun was going down and it was starting to get cold. Once back at the car I decided that the day had been a good day; however with this new guidebook, Jodogahama was just the tip of the iceberg. I am now looking forward, more than ever, to my stay within the Iwate prefecture.

Toodle Pip

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