Wednesday, August 5 – Friday, August 14, 2015
How to get there:
You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.
Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.
- Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan. Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
- International ATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cash and call your bank to ask what ATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
- ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
- The Post Office bank seems to work with the most international cards.
- You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan; I’ve never been a tourist here.)
How to get there:
- Coordinates 35°13’39.9″N 132°29’59.9″E
- There is a free outdoor shower for rinsing off, a bathroom, and changing rooms.
How to get there:
- Coordinates 35°16’24.6″N 132°35’06.8″E
- Camping – free
- July 18 – August 23
- 9:00 – 19:00
- 3 minutes
- 200 yen
- There is free, but limited parking.
- This beach is more for fishing than for swimming. But, people still try to swim here. Personally, I think there are so many nicer beaches nearby that are great for swimming that you shouldn’t come here unless you wanted free camping or to go fishing.
- Grilling is not allowed here, though people seem to do it all the time.
- Kirara is a nearby rest area with restaurants and an information desk. The nice beaches are near Kirara.
The Next Beach
We spent the day at Kute Beach. It was part a beach day, part a reconnaissance mission. It’s sometimes hard to find information about Japanese campsites online, so we had to look around the area in person for some camping spots for later.
Kute Beach is okay, nothing special. It’s a fine beach that’s free with free parking. Most of the people who go to this beach live nearby and walk to it.
our future camping neighbors
After swimming we drove along the coast until we saw some tents at a park. We got out the car and asked the campers there about the campsite. They spoke no English but we were able to communicate with my limited Japanese. They told us that camping there was completely free and year round. We thanked them for the information and told them that we would return in a few days.
It’s dead Mark!
Before we drove back home we went to a roadside rest stop for some ramen. After dinner, our car wouldn’t start. We had no idea what to do.
We don’t belong to any roadside assistance clubs like AAA or JAF. We left the hood of the car open hoping that someone would come by and offer to give us a jump-start. No one did.
After about 20 minutes I went inside one of the shops at the rest stop. I asked an employee for advice. I told a lady that my car “sleeps and can’t wake up.” She seemed to understand what I was saying. Then I asked her if she had “jumper cables”. I couldn’t think of a way to describe jumper cables with my limited vocabulary. So I mimed connecting to cars, then turning one on so that the other will start. “Oh, I see,” she exclaimed in Japanese.
She went in a back room to explain everything to her manager. He came out and told me something in rapid-fire Japanese, before heading out the door. The lady looked at me, “Everything will be fine. Just wait a moment.” She motioned me to sit by a window.
Ten minutes later the manager came back. “Which car is yours?” “The white Wagon R from Okayama.” Mark and I led him to our car. He took out his cables and jump started our car. We were very grateful. We thanked and bowed to the manager.
Instead of driving home, we went to the nearest Auto Bacs. We keep a stash of cash with us when we go on trips. It’s called the “car fund”. We put aside about $400 each month to pay for any car related surprises. We took that money out and bought a new car battery and jumper cables at Auto Bacs.
The people at Auto Bacs were very nice. We showed up about 10 minutes before closing time. But, they still greeted us like we weren’t making them stay late. They put in the new battery and cleaned our windshield and windows. They waved goodbye to us as we pulled out of their parking lot.
That will do!
A few days later
We came back a few days later. We put up our tent next to the guys who gave us the camping information at Tagi Beach. They were two men who were there the whole time. Sometimes other men would join them camping, other times a group of 5 or 6 boys would join them. There were women who would come by and they would cook for the ladies. But the women never spent the night like the men or boys did. We just referred to them as “the boys”.
After we said hello to “the boys” and set up our tent, we drove up the coast for a better beach. Tagi Beach had free camping, but the beach itself was no good at all for swimming.
It wasn’t long before we found a lovely and lonely spot. We parked our car nearby and got in the water. It was a lazy swimming day.
Mark went off snorkeling and floated around very contentedly. After about an hour of this I felt something. It was like a cross between a bite and an electric shock. But it was so faint, I almost thought I had imagined it. Then I felt another one. This time it was worse.
Damn you sea creatures!
I put on my snorkel mask and put my head under water. Jellyfish! Jellyfish everywhere! Now they were all coming after me. I got out of the water and sat on the shore.
It was a hot day. Too hot to sit on the beach out of the water. So, I went back in. The jellyfish attacked again. I got out of the water. I called Mark. “Lets get lunch!”
“The Boys” Give Cooking Advice
We got up one morning to find a new beach for the day’s swimming. As we were leaving we passed “the boys” and gave them the usually “Ohiyogoziemasu” and small talk. They were grilling something that smelt really good.
“Oh, did you go shopping already?” I was just teasing. “The boys” were great fishermen and were basically living off stuff they caught. The only thing they seemed to buy was beer, coke, and whiskey.
“No, we got that from the sea. Try some!” Mark was hesitant, but I really wanted to try it. One of “the boys” handed me a shelled sea-snail. “It’s delicious!” I was shocked. It smelt good, but I didn’t think it would actually taste good too.
“I grilled it, then fried it in butter.” Then he handed one to Mark. Mark liked it too.
We decided that Mark and I would gather some sea snails and try to cook them. We went to the rest stop to use their free internet. We looked at some YouTube videos on how to cook fresh sea-snail.
Well, we tried it that evening. But it didn’t taste like what the boys made. Ours tasted like sea poison.
“The Boys” get Mark into Spear Fishing
Another day as we were heading off to another beach, we stop by “the boys” camp for our “Ohayo” and small talk. In the course of the conversation, (“The boys” speak no English.) they recommended that Mark get a spear to catch fish. They noticed that he had been having no luck with his fishing pole.
They told us where we could buy a spear, how much it cost, and even gave Mark a short lesson in using one with one of their’s. They advised getting the bamboo one, because it floats. But we didn’t understand that part of the conversation until Mark lost a metal spear.
So, for the next couple of days we stayed at Tagi Beach. Mark spent the whole time spear fishing. He caught many fish, but they weren’t big enough to make a decent meal. He said, “All the bigger fish are too smart and fast for me to catch. All I can get are the slow dumb ones.”
We ate slow dumb fish more as side dishes to accompany the chicken and pork we brought to grill. We did not try sea snails again.
It’s going to rain all day.
A Day Indoors
One night it rained a lot. In the morning it was still raining, so instead of heading out to another beach, we went to a mall. First we had breakfast at a Joyfull. The plan was to stay indoors until the rain stopped. We got gas, found some internet, and checked the forecast. It would stop raining around three in the afternoon.
We spent the next morning laying our things out to dry before we went out swimming. We were still having a great time.
Happy Camper’s Cove
The Day “the Boys” got Weird
We mostly only talked to “the boys” in the mornings. In the evenings they were usually entertaining guests or fishing. For the most part, other than our morning “ohiyo’s” and small talk, they pretty much kept to themselves. So it was a little odd when one of them came over to us while Mark and I where talking on the beach.
We had not seen this particular guy before. He was about the same age as the two main guys who stayed at the camp the whole time. I think he was about 45 or 50ish. He claimed to speak more English than the others, but it was hard to tell; he was kind of drunk.
He asked us where we were from. “We’re from America.” “America!? I like America!” We asked why he liked America and he told us that he liked “FreedOOOMMM!”
“Someone’s been buying into the propaganda.” But, that’s not what he meant. We would soon find out when the conversation took a bizarre turn.
He asked us if we were from Colorado. He really wanted to visit Colorado. “Do you like skiing?” “No, not ski.” He seemed very confused as to why the topic of skiing was brought up.
“Then why do you want to go to Colorado?” “Freedoooooommmmmm!” Then he started to smoke an imaginary joint. “Do you know magic mushroooooooms?”
Mark and I just looked at each other. “It’s magic season.” Then he name some town where there are plenty of magic mushrooms growing in the forest. In a combination of English and Japanese he told us where to go to get them and how to prepare them. But, it took a while for him to give us all this unsolicited information. He kept slurring his words and starting over.
“So you like smoking, drinking, and magic mushrooms?” Mark confirmed.
“I don’t drink!” He seemed offended. “But I love cocaaaaaaine. Do you have cocaaaaine?”
“I looooooove cocaaaaaine!” Then he rolled over on his side and just stopped moving. He made no sounds. He just lay there with a big silly grin on his face dreaming about his beloved cocaine. I thought that this would be a good time to back away and leave him there.
I started to get up. “If I had cocaaaaine I would share it you. OOHHHHH!” He started moaning loudly. Some other guys, none we had seen before, came to get Mr. Cocaaaine. They picked him up off the ground and dragged him to their tent.
That night, there were screams all night long coming from “the boys'” tent along with some randomly shouted, “Fuck you’s,” “Fuck me’s,” “Fuck baby’s,” and other various things to fuck. They sang songs, or rather shouted songs. But, most of the night was spend screaming; it wasn’t the “I’m being chased by an ax-murderer” type of screams. It was more like the “I’m at a fabulous rock concert and I’m stoned out of my mind” type of screaming.
“The Boys'” tents, days before the Weird Night
The next morning, “the boys” were nowhere to be seen. Mark and I were looking up at the sky, which was threatening to rain again, and wondering if we should just pack up and go home. Then we saw some official-looking people. They didn’t have uniforms, but they did have badges.
They asked if they could talk to us. It seemed ominous. They spoke no English, so I took out my pocket dictionary. It seemed like the conversation we were about to have would be the type where one would want as little misunderstanding as possible.
“Did you hear any noise last night?”
We both nodded our heads. We pointed to the other camp. “Drunk maybe,” I said. “Normally quiet, but last night party I think.” They asked us where they were.
“I don’t know. I speak only a little Japanese. They don’t speak English. They went to the store maybe. Their car is not here.” The officials seemed satisfied with that. They walked over to “the boys” camp and left a letter on their camping table.
“Mark, I don’t know what is going to happen next, but I think we should be far, far from here when it happens.” So we packed up our stuff and headed back home.
Japan has strict drug laws. You can get in trouble by just being friends with someone who has drugs, especially if you’re a foreigner. The officials never asked us our names or where we lived. I didn’t want to give them an opportunity to come back and do so. At that moment, all they knew was that some people were very loud. If they found drugs in their tent or something, I didn’t want to be dragged into that.
I heard that Japanese prison is no fun.