[personal profile] cycleboy1957
Our hosts, Adam and Kaoru in Kochi, both work and were gone before we emerged from our room. We had breakfast, washed up (theirs as well as ours) then headed out towards our next stop: Otsuki. It is located on the next south-pointing peninsula, which I'm assuming also gets the full brunt of Pacific storms. However, the view from our hotel bedroom window, even on a dull day, is still pretty special. There are steep sided, wooded slopes plunging into the water, making it look like a mini Norway. Our first idea was to arrive early enough to have va bit of an exploration of the area. Unfortunately, early starts are a rarity and the speed limits on all but the toll roads are such that it was 4pm when we arrived. And it was raining.

I've often commented on differences I see between UK and Japan. Visiting the toilets in a supermarket today, I spotted something that exemplifies some of those differences. In the cubicle there was a shelf, on which were neatly stacked 4 spare toilet rolls. In the UK spare rolls are locked away inside steel reinforced containers. Just imagine, for a second, how long they would remain neatly stacked in a UK toilet? 10 minutes? Five? They would be tossed about the cubicle, torn to shreds, dumped into the toilet and attempted to be flushed away or simply nicked.

Tomorrow, we head down to the tip of the Ashizuri Peninsula and, depending on the mood of the weather, we will either explore it a bit or visit the Manjiro museum.

Manjiro, otherwise known as John Mung to his rescuers, has a quite remarkable story. He was born in the early 1800s and was a fisherman from this area who was hundreds of kms south of Tokyo when he and his comrades were shipwrecked on a tiny island. There they survived for 4 months before being rescued by an American ship that happened ot be passing. This was, at a time Japan was still cut off from the outside world. Rather like in the USSR, attempting to leave the country could be punishable by death and even moving to another province needed permission. Manjiro and his comrades ended up in Boston, where they stayed for many years. Manjiro himself learned navigation and other skills, along with fluent English, of course, and appears to have been well received by his hosts. Some years later they were given the chance to return home. Fearing the consequences, some of the party remained in the US, but a few, Manjiro included, dediced to risk the return. Fortunately, although arrested on their return, they were not punished and Manjiro became an advisor to the Shogun on naval matters. When, some years later, Commander Perry arrived with 4 war ships and demanded thast Japan open at least her ports to passing ships for trade and re-supplying, Manjiro found himself in the essential role of chief interpreter; presumably both for his language and also behaviour. For the isolated Japanese, dress, manners and even global references would be quite uncomprehensible, so Manjiro's time in the US must have been essential.

The view from our hotel (Bellreef, Otsuki) looks out on a mini-fiord, with wooded slopes plunging into the crystal waters of the bay. Quite superb. We've not yet been able to discover whether there are any navigable paths through the woods, but it would be lovely to find out.

We drove towards Ashizurimisaki, but got diverted by some lovely spots on the way. One in particular was Tatsukushi. The rocks of this peninsula are a conglomerate of soft sandstone with harder stones embedded. Over the years, the sandstone has been eroded making quite unearthly shapes and occasionally exposing the embedded rocks and stones. One formations has been called "Big and Small Bamboo" and I can see the resemblance. However, for my money it looks more like the fossilised spine of some huge creature. I think it should be renamed "Nessie's Ancestor".

Another diversion was Ashizuri Kaiteikan Underwater Observatory. Looking rather like some odd spaceship stranded on the shoreline, it's a tower built on the sea bed with portholes and a spiral staircase access. Though not quite a tropical reef, there are still plenty of interesting and curious fish to watch, as well as some lovely corals. We also saw a few of the famous 'fugu' fish; those that are edible, but will kill if not prepared correctly. Sadly, most of the photos are a little disappointing, but I'll load the one of the fugu to Facebook.

In some places I commented that it sweemed a nice sort of place to live. "But it regularly gets hit by typhoons." Junko countered, "I wouldn't want to live here." Finally, we got to the tip of the peninsula and parked the car. The walk back to the tourist centre took us along a cliff path under a canopy of camleia trees. Sadly, most of the flowers had fallen, making a crimson carpet in places while catching an occasional glimpse of one still thriving on the bough. Looking down onto the boiling see I confess I was thankful for the barriers the Japanese are so keen on. A steep descent to the beach and we stood in front of Hakusan rock arch. Rather like Dorset's 'Durdle Door' this one is topped by lush venetation. Back up on the road, we found a hot foot bath, where we were able to sooth our weary feet in warm water overlooking Hakusan while nibbling on snacks; at least until we spotted the sign forbidding eating near the water.

Some photos here:



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