June 01, 2012

Japan's edge

Waves gently breaking against the shore, leaves rustling in the wind, birds singing and an occassional fisher's boat cruising past (and a very very occasional Self-Defence Force jet going past): all the sounds that are around me on a day spent along the Wakinosawa coast of the Shimokita Peninsula. After four days of travelling and spending lots of time on buses and trains (yesterday I counted a record 7 hours), I'm taking it easy today. And what better way to spend a holiday then by sitting in the sun, reading a book, walking along the coast to take in the views and exploring tiny little fishing vilages. It also feels like I'm on the edge of Japan. Far away from the big cities, in areas which feel quite far off the grid. Life here seems pretty simple. You fish, you clean your nets, you put your shell fish to dry. But the area also seems to be emptying. At most settlements half of the houses stand closed up and empty. I haven't seen anyone under the age of 50 today. On the bus here yesterday we did pass a few schools so there are kids and families in the general area but I think Wakinosawa and beyond is pretty much the end of the peninsula and families live closer to larger areas such as Kawauchi, Ominato or Mutsu. For the past four days I've had the sea in sight. First, it was the Pacific Ocean starting from Miyako and now I'm staring out at the Mutsu Bay. So in a way I really have been travelling Japan's edge. It has also made me rethink my travel plans and instead of heading into the mountains inland - where I probably won't be able to do the intended hiking trail anyway - I'm moving on to the other coast, the Japan Sea. Heading South on some local trains should be good with plenty of new discoveries.

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