A while ago, there was a trip to a small island off the far west of my prefecture. I’m not exactly sure who set it up, but it saw massive attendance numbers from Japanese people and the the foreigners in the area as well. I had been wanting to get over to that side of the prefecture, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to get there. There are numerous islands between the big island I’m on, and the mainland (also an island of course) and there is no way I can see them all. A lot of them are similar though, in that they played host to a self sufficient society of people. But, that has changed over the last few decades due to urbanization, resulting in small and shrinking communities of the old and aging. Of the few I’ve seen, there were plenty of abandoned buildings, which were actually pretty interesting to look at. The way Japan closes a building is to lock the doors and walk away, so peering inside is much like portal to the past.
Anyway I arrived fashionably late with a few of my friends also participating in the event. McDonald’s breakfast beckoned, and we got a late start stemming from an even later night. We opted to drive, rather than the train to save big on money and also have more flexibility in coming home. Moreover, it finally got me on the Japanese freeway, which I had been getting antsy to try out. I’ll share about that later… As for our tardiness, all we missed was an icebreaker activity, which everyone knows are the worst. In actuality, our modified schedule was much better, and more conducive to enjoying my time with the people I actually wanted to, only.
The first activity was climbing to the highest point on the island. This was actually a decent hike, made entirely more difficult by the nature of the steps we had to climb. They were obnoxiously spaced and sized which made it easy to miss your footing entirely, a fate that befell (heh heh) many. It was also really quite hot that day, so even in a polo and shorts I was sweating a fair bit. Upon reaching the top, we did a group shot for everyone present, which was fine, but the real treat was the view. As I said before, there are a number of small islands scattered about the Seto Sea, and climbing to a good vantage point only affords a wonderful opportunity to see them.
Indeed, just as I said. That isthmus in the center is where the majority of the town lives, and is also the beach we went to later in the day.
After the descent, it was soon lunch time, which looked to be fantastic. Anyone who understands the glory of Korean BBQ (Yakiniku) knows that when enormous platters of every kind of meat are brought out for us to have our way with, life is good. We did some major damage, but the scale of the meat was so immense that there were leftovers. During food time, we just chatted, relaxed on the grass and took in the good atmosphere. Eventually it was over, and time to clean up the area. This obligation was passed to us in the form of the least organized, backwards, and pointless ‘game’ I’ve been ambushed with in some time. I succeeded at making small chat in the vicinity of the chaos, so no one knew I was entirely disengaged from the operation.
The smoke spewing from the grills was a bit prohibitive, but we all still managed our fill.
The last portion of the trip was walking over to the old school, closed as a result of the obvious lack of students. In recent years however, it had been converted into a group of artist’s studio space, and we had the chance to walk through and see the various projects they were working on. As I said earlier, Japanese has this way of picking up and leaving a place as it. Here too were rooms with all the desks and teaching supplies, even school posters and awards still hanging on the wall. A great place to see, and probably an even better place for art. Before making our way back to the ferry, we stopped at that beach to clean it up. Everyone just dispersed and managed to grab a lot of trash in only a few minutes. Before leaving, I did a little stone skipping, and I’m confident I set the world record that day. It was also a very beautiful place in general.
All in all, it was a great day. Every weekend that I can do something different like this is all the better.