A byte of life from the Land of Sumos and Sushi

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Last weekend, I made the two hour journey to the town of Obama in the southern end of the Fukui. If living in Ono makes me a man of the mountains, the Obamans are the beach bums of Fukui. My friends Ryan and Amber live in what are basically beach huts, a mere minute walk away from the ocean in an area that has a laid back, chilled out, slow pace feel to it.

The bay of Obama is a very beautiful place, with lush forested mountains curling round the water, sheltering a massive bay area leaving the waters calm – an ideal place for a paddle in the new kayak.

So, following an eventful night, involving sneaking into an elementary school swimming pool, water polo and birthday suits (once again the formula: “boys + girls + booze + water = nakedness”, proves to be mathematically sound), we arose late and headed for the ocean.

As we had three people who wanted a piece of the action, the original plan had been to tow one person on a surf board behind the kayak. However, that idea was abandoned when we discovered that we could fit three in the boat – admittedly it was a little cosy, but hey, we’re all friends here, especially after the previous night’s fun and games in the pool.

So, the Sea Eagle 330 was to face its biggest challenge to date; three people in moderate seas. Yet again, I was impressed with the kayak’s performance, and despite the extra weight, the boat handled well. As we cruised the warm clear waters, we saw several large jelly fish, their long tentacles streaming in their wake.

Sarah, (who incidentally features in the very first story ever to appear on thefunkydrummer as one of the record breaking trio on the Mount Fuji Trip) and I have already borne the wrath of such creatures almost one year ago last August at a beach reggae festival in Takasu. Diving too deep into the dark waters of the ocean that night, we were stung, leaving Sarah’s leg, and my back and chest looking like they’d been lashed with a bull whip. So, with good reason, we weren’t so keen to dive into the jelly fish infested waters a second time.

Ryan on the other hand was happy to don a face mask and snorkel, and was soon bringing up various shell fish for our perusal. Everything was going well as we bobbed up and down on the high seas, when disaster struck; Sarah began to feel seasick, and decided that she wanted off. With Ryan back on board, we paddled on in search of a place to land, and deposit her for some recovery time but the rocky cliffs offered us no refuge, only the guarantee of shredded skin and a punctured boat.

When Sarah announced she would rather jump over board, swim to the shoreline, slice herself up on the treachous rocks, scale the 100 meter vertical cliffs with overhangs, and then make the five hour hike back to the car, rather than stay on the boat, we knew it was serious.

However luck was on our side – we stumbled upon a small inlet, with a couple of ancient caves in, which had obviously been used for the storage of some unknown cargo in years gone by. We landed, and whilst Sarah had a lie down to regain her land lubbin’ legs, Ryan and I explored the caves, which bore signs of recent human activity; we saw a fire and a frying pan as well as some bats in the cave.

Ryan, the adventurous Tennessean, last featured on thefunkydrummer in February 2005, when we were riding powder tree runs at Katsuyama Ski Jam and he had a close encounter with a pine, which saw him being stretchered off the mountain, and brought a harsh early end to his snowboarding season. Now fully healed, he tried his luck at fishing, and managed to catch a tiddler.

We chilled on this small enclave for a couple of hours, but as the sun began to sink, we decided it was time to head home. I had a little accident whilst trying to get back in to the boat, resulting in man over board, and lacerating seven of my fingers on the sharp rocks. With blood flowing out on to the boat and into the sea leaving a trail for the sharks, the crew paddled back inland, flowing the rocky coastline, as the sun set behind us.

Out in the open water, we had a job keeping the boat straight, what with the wind, and currents buffeting us around, but once inside the safety of the bay, it was easy going again.

As we neared our final destination, for some reason we simultaneously paused paddling and the boat swung slowly round to face the setting sun glimmering on the calm surface of the bay. As we sat there, the magic of the scene shunned us all into the silence. We simply sat motionless, gazed in awe, and breathed in the beauty of a perfect end to what had been a near perfect day.

NB: Unfortunately I have no pictures of this trip, as I didn’t want to risk the destruction of yet another camera. Yes – that’s right – I’m now on Camera No.3. No. 1 was lost whilst snowboarding last winter, and No. 2 came to an untimely death last week, when it got left on the roof of my car, fell off, and then I reversed over it.

Another one bites the dust.


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