Just a few things from my day. 🙂
Things are going quite well here actually…from the Okonomiyaki to the Karoke to the Takoyaki, ’tis a country of deliciousity, most notable in the letter k. I’m loving it here.
For those who don’t know, I will define the above mentioned terms, for those who do, let your mind wander freely as your eyes passively scroll through the written word. Okonomiyaki is deliciousness wrapped up into a healthy pancake and griddle cooked before your eyes…with your own hands. The filling entirely varies, from octopus to cheese to meat to vegetables to some crazy conundrum coexisting cornacopia of all.
ten points for alliteration.
Karaoke: In Japan, the majority of the time it means renting out a room and rocking out with a pretty decent sound system and comfy chairs with your mates.
First weekend of August: Kaiyo-cho.
Forecast said rain. We said screw the forecast.
Wow. This was a slap of Genki right to the adreno glands.
Started late, we booked it down to the beach for an epic beach party of monumental proportions. Crashed at Mark’s cozy Russian Bomb shelter for the night. We woke up to a beautiful morning (Mark, Harry, Mari, Sam, Austin, Bella, Danielle and I)…and the day got progressively better as it progressed.
First, we had a wonderful breakfast compliments to Monsieur Mark that was an authentic Japanese style course: Miso Soup, Rice, Daikon, egg, etc. We packed up, went to a grocery store, but some essentials (Qoo, followed by more copious amounts of Qoo) Then we went to the beach, Harry and I, being as bromantically involved as two ambigously heterosexual men can, raced each other to the waves before anyone had even set their bags down among the sand. Shirts and Jandals trailing behind us.
Safe to say he kicked the crap out of me. He is two parts awkward Ice Cream, 3 parts Goofy British Charm, and 1 part friggin Arabian Racing Stallion. I don’t know what he has been eating, but it must be thoroughbred.
The swells were lovely, the water a dark blue that can only be attained by the largest body of water on Earth, hiding memories and ceaselessly crashing until the end of days. It was a U Shaped inlet beach surrounded by jutting outcroppings of forested mountain range. In the middle was a 800 meter long dusky white stretch of sand. We were at Shirahama Beach and we were like 8 kids who had just discovered talking dinosaurs in the form of lively salt water.
My personal favourite moment of the morning was when Bella, the loveliest of Welsh women believed that she was immune to waves while she was sitting full on in an inner-tube. I’m not sure what logic she was employing, but it was a truly spectacular moment watching her wide smile, hands and toes trailing in the water, completely oblivious as a substantial wave came crashing in. It hooked her perfectly, putting her upside down and shooting the tube into the air.
It was a morning for laughter and light hearted cheer, and the day had only just begun.
Harry, Austin, and I had our hearts set on surfing. Shirahama beach was not the best place for that. So we packed up and went further south a few km to a new beach site, Izumi. This was a long stretch of sand, accessorized by surf shops, a cheery white hotel, and beautiful 8-10 foot swells. The sun was high and we were soaking it in as we tore around, looking for surf boards and rash vests…naturally we had sensitive nipples and had to protect that character flaw.
So began my first surfing experience. Surfing is simultaneously harder and easier than you think it is. For one thing, the parts you think are hard, and the bits you think are easy are pretty much reversed in my opinion. Put your hand down, I’m not taking questions, and let me explain.
Riding the wave is easy. Balancing on a surf board caught in the midst of a foaming and roaring swell as it tears at 30 kmh toward the briny shores is pretty damn easy.
Yes, yes, don’t check your eye sight you read that right, balancing on a flat and smooth piece of flotsam as it tries balancing on a moving body of liquid is the easy part. You pretty much are held in place by inertia, that wonderful physics rule that governs how this Earth operates.
The hard part, is staying on your board long enough to get into position. I spent the majority of the time trying to keep from drowning, looking like a pregnant bassett hound stuck in a kiddy pool.
It was exhausting work, but exhilarating. I had to slowly figure out how to balance on the board as I paddled out to sea, dodging massive monster waves by trying to form over them, tucking and diving(smashing head-long and failing) under them, or holding my board perpendicular to the water and jumping. Then trying to time what time to get on the board, then trying to balance, turn around, and start paddling all in a bout a 10-15 second window between prospective waves is a dicey business, like playing leap frog with a unicorn, more often than not we got caught in the bum.
Then there were the times we succeeded. Every single failed attempt was immediately forgotten. It is so easy to forget the trials we face when we meet with the moment we have longed for. This is no different. The way it works is, if you are lucky enough to get turned around in time, and you are lucky enough to have timed it right, and you are just clever enough to have positioned yourself at the right point for when the wave is gonna break, and you paddle like Jaws is behind you with a submachine gun, something wonderous happens:
It happens in a split second, one second you are hearing an ageless beast growl seconds behind you, and the next, you are on its back, and you are timeless in its moment. Then you just have to stand up and meet whatever expectation you think you deserve. Because when it comes down to it, it never really matters about circumstance, we really make or break on our attitudes toward our situations, do we not?
Local Japanese Cantina Style grub, more surfing and sun burns, laughs, games, smiles, and memories, and the day was hitting a high note.
Then it started getting even higher.
Everything that had occurred so far was all pre-game. The whole point of coming to Kaiyo in the first place was the Annual JET beach party.
So at 4, we packed up again, and went back to Shimayama beach, where everyone else had begun to arrive. What an assortment it was. We terrified all Japanese passerby with our genki gaijin-ness and sheer numbers.
We cooked out, we swam some more, everyone drank copious amounts of alcohol (myself excluded, not really my favorite back of cookies) and we had a rip roaring good time. It is so entertaining to fight waves with new friends. Night fell, meeting Harry and I with two man sized steak sandwiches chased with Qoo. Did you even have to ask?
Night fell, and after a few hours, it started to rain. Which you think would dampen our spirits, instead, about 15 of us tore off back toward the ocean while everyone else huddled under the gazebo which was our party central local of choice. There is something so majestic and magical about standing in the ocean during a rainstorm. Yes yes, type A’s, I could have been “Struck by lightening” but in that moment I would have been at peace to go out of this world.
My arms were held wide, I raised my face to the sky as a constant pattering of rivulets streamed down over my face and chest. The constant yin and yang pull of the waves around me quickened its pace, excited by its streaming freshwater rendezvous. I felt foam on my stomach as water embraced all around me, washing my thoughts and body clean. The tops of the mountains were shrouded in silent mist, silent sentinels capped in mystery. The faint swirling glow of a distant lighthouse kept in time with the rhythm of the sea. Night’s mystery rang keen and beautiful, obscuring in comforting benevolence. The slow thrum of thunder rang its verse while the never ending chorus flowed to the timbre of the everlasting harmony of the Pacific. The power of that moment rang clarity and peace.
The rain soon ended but that moment was never forgotten. The party resumed, not that a 20 minute session of rain could dampen anything but physicality. 5 minutes later it was all but forgotten. The people around me were so joyous and so entertaining, I could only hope that I could provide them with just a fraction of the enjoyment they were giving me.
Then it was time for the Midnight Skinny dip. Why yes. I did hoist a “flag flies free” in a dark and unknowable abyss filled with all manner of creature. No regrets. It was epic. Why?
When you willingly stand in the largest body on earth looming its monstrous wonder with nothing between you and it except your own two bits o’ skin, it’s as close as you can get to a higher power without dying.
It is something you just have to experience. Stop being prudish and childish and just give it a try. As I said before, if you worry about the could haves you miss out on the would haves. Are you going to lead a safe life doing what you know is safe and secure and familiar, or are you willing to push the limits, to not just open the envelope but tear it to pieces? I would rather die at 28 having done everything I possibly wanted to than live to 85 playing it smart and secure.
I spent the rest of the evening riding an incredible high from being in a new country, with new, absolutely amazing friends, on my favourite possible venues on earth (the beach).
I spent the late night and early morning with a party who I am not privy to divulge. Safe to say it was wonderful, fanciful, and fun as all get out. Star gazing, cursing waves, dancing in the ocean to our own singing, and holding hands in the swells. It was remarkable. And while the future me can safely and comfortably say that it didn’t last past the morning, it still made quite the outstanding cap on an absolutely perfect day. No regrets.
I fell asleep for 20 minutes in the sand, on an inner tube. It was a horrendous bit of sleep. It was cold, and I almost got attacked by a beach bat. and I wouldn’t have changed a moment of it for all the lost Nazi Gold in Switzerland.
That is what happens when you spend a full 24 hours in the sun, having hands down the best day of your life.
I have a feeling that moments like this one have only just begun for me. I wish you all the luck and courage in the world to take that step into whatever direction will make you as happy as I am with where I am in life, able to share these moments with you. Take that step, just stop talking and do it.
Random and Fun Quote to consider while Traveling:
“I always say pick a country, pick a place at either end (intro & exit) and find
out what the filling is.”
Now for a bit of sobering knowledge:
Every second, every silent step of reflection I see and drink in with every particle of my being has led me to one inescapable and quite obvious truth:
America, I am truly sorry. It is clear to me now. I don’t think I will ever come back in any true capacity.
Those who truly know me won’t in the least bit be surprised.
Know that I am happy, and that those of you who miss me, know that I miss you more than you can ever realize but know that I am set and smiling.
“If there is one true American past-time, it is baseball….baseball.” -Ghandi-