The Beach

Yesterday the Studio Kura founder Hiro-san took me and Charlotte to a little ride around Itoshima. I'd been talking about swimming for days, so we stopped at a really lovely, tropical beach so I could take a swim. As usual, the beach was totally empty, but I decided to bite the bullet and swim alone anyway. I was doing fine for a while until I suddenly got a sting, from a jellyfish maybe. It wasn't serious or big, I never saw the jellyfish, but it did hurt quite a bit for a while, so I got out of the water, afraid I'd get stung worse. So my swimming adventures have been a bit of bust. There was also a small incident involving my bikini but I better not get into it. Oh and we saw a really big cat! I'm not completely sure if it was a cat or some other wild feline, I couldn't get close enough. But it was huge! I would have wanted to pet it but it ran away.

In fact, looking at it from that bad, zoomed photo, it probably wasn't a regular cat or even a house cat gone wild, so to say. Maybe it was some kind of an wild animal. I'm so excited! I've never seen a wild feline in nature before! I also spied another cat, a smaller house cat this time:

There was also an abandoned hotel at the beach. I kid you not, I found an abandoned Japanese hotel! For an urban exploration geek, that's pretty much the jackpot. It must have been abandoned for decades, what with Beavis & Butthead graffitis and weird lounge chairs with built in loudspeakers. It was pretty torn up, but it had gloomy hallways, broken windows with trees reaching their branches inside and huge balconies overlooking the ocean view. 

It was pretty wild. Also creepy, though; the abandoned buildings here have this very distinct moist, stale smell that has something really ominous about it. I just always feel very uneasy in them, even if I'm usually fine with most Finnish abandoned houses, happy with them even. Inside abandoned Japanese houses, the heat transforms into something a bit sickly and maybe even dangerous. Maybe it makes me think of the world ending with the Earth overheating, or maybe a zombie apocalypse, you know? Broken, messy and abandoned buildings with a stuffy smell and foggy windows, the nature taking back what the humankind tried to take away from it.

After exploring the hotel we headed off to a salt factory of sorts. I don't really know how to call it, I never before thought how salt is "made" or extracted. I'm sure there are many ways to do it, but the Mataichi Salt Works extract it from the ocean through bamboos and diffusing and many ways I don't actually quite understand but it was really fascinating. Here is a short article about it, if you're curious. The place is situated right near the beach, on this rock ledge, looking to the open sea, bathing in the hot sun. They sell all kinds of salt products, including a salt pudding that sounds really weird but it's actually quite good. It has a burnt caramel / very cheesy cheesecake kind of a feeling, I'd say. Reminds me a bit of the famous Finnish treat leipäjuusto. Or juustoleipä, I know guys, let's not get into that! In Finland it's a huge bone of contention, the order in which you put those two words.

The whole building reminded me of Finland. At first it was hard to tell why, it's on the beach, with crystal green water, but there was this certain smell of smoked wood and all the furniture was made of wood, so it actually looked quite a lot like a traditional Finnish cabin. I really recommend the place, the atmosphere was really cool. The beach is so present but at the same time, there's a small factory thing happening there, with all of these relaxed, artist-type people working hard, getting their hands dirty. It felt a bit like Finland, but then again a bit like some little shop in California or something, but with a distinct Japanese flavour. It was fun.

The day was really hot, again, though I'm starting to get a bit used to it. Maybe not used to it, but resigned to it. I'm not even trying to hide my sweating anymore. I know it's running down my face and I can't even remember a time when my back has been dry under my backpack. But there's nothing I can do. I'm perhaps 9% human and 91% sweat at this point. Whatever.

In the evening, I went to another beach, this one very close to us. I took some photos and then I met Rai-chan the doggy again! Did I tell you about Rai-chan the doggy? Me and Preema met him already earlier this week, we were collecting seashells when suddenly this rambunctious, wild little red fox runs to us and starts yapping and jumping on us. We got a little shock, we'd been so involved looking down, searching for seashells that we didn't see him coming. But I realized he was just a puppy and just being really playful and not mean, so I tried to control him. He scratched me quite a lot, I even got a few bloody wounds because the poor doggy was so excited! But I knew he didn't mean any harm. His owner, a lovely elder lady was trying to control him, Rai-chan had just accidentally run away from him.

Anyway, I met Rai-chan (named after the God of thunder in Japan) and his owner again, the little shiba was super "genki" again (that's the only Japanese word describing him I could think of) and his owner, Noriko-san invited me in for tea. I felt a bit weird at first, I didn't know her and I knew so little Japanese that conversation might be hard, but then I thought: I'm in Japan, just do it! Don't let insecurities stop you! So I followed her to her absolutely lovely house, with an astonishing beach view and we had green tea and few local fruits I don't actually even know the names of. One was kaki, I think? The other might have been called something like nishi? Kaki was very nut-like and nishi quite like a pear, I think. So I sat with her for a while and also saw her little cat. In the end we managed to communicate pretty well with some kind of a combination between Japanese and English. It was really sweet and quite a nice ending to my Japan trip, even if I still have a little bit time left.


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