I’ve not been able to get my laptop online for the past two days, so I’m going to have to stack the blog entries to catch you all up. And to confuse matters, I’m going to do it non-sequentially.
Shirahama stinks. No, really. After spending my first day thinking there was something unpleasant going on with the sewerage system that might put one off swimming in the sea, it occurred to me that the place is full of natural hot springs. The intense smell of rotten eggs I’d been picking up all over town would appear to be due to the sulphur content of the volcanically heated water. My realisation made me slightly chirpier about the beach, but still not that enthused about the town.
Of course we didn’t get off to the best start, my train being delayed half an hour (I thought this didn’t happen in Japan?) and taking over three hours to get to Shirahama. I’d been planning to visit the market in Kyoto with the navy guy Troy before I left, and had gone to the train station to stash my bags, but got lost on the way. By the time I found the station (much further from the market than I had been led to believe), it was nearly time for my train, and I didn’t much fancy the walk back to the market. Sadly this meant standing Troy up, but I was eager to get to the beach!
I called my minshuku (a type of low budget guesthouse in Japan) when I arrived, and the owner very kindly came and picked me up, pointing out some of the necessities in town on the drive back. Inside the minshuku was a little tired and dated, and I couldn’t help comparing it with the awesome youth hostel in Kyoto and the lovely ryokan in Nagoya, but it was minutes from the beach and the first bit of privacy I’d had in about a week. I took a nap and headed out to check out the beach and some dinner.
I arrived on the beach in time for sunset over the water and watched young Japanese families playing in the surf. As it got darker I went off in search of something to eat. I found a place called Nomo Nomo that I badly wanted to go into, but the menu was all in Japanese and the door pretty much slammed in my face when they saw me outside. Instead I went into a little cafe with plastic models of ramen dishes in the window. After explaining I didn’t eat meat, I got a bowl of udon noodle soup, topped with a raw egg and chopped spring onions. The noodles were badly overcooked, breaking off and splashing back into the soup to splatter me. But for 500 yen I guess you can’t expect much better.