being from torrance, i always took going to the beach for granted. i mean, torrance beach was about 15 minutes from my house, and redondo/hermosa/manhattan were only about 20 minutes away each. then, when i went to ucsd, la jolla shores was a 15 minute walk/5 minute drive from campus. even living in torrance and wanting to go to huntington beach is only a 40 minute drive. i went to the beach with some friends in august, and it took, wait for it…..3 HOURS!
miki drove her daughter, mariya, me, emiko, and takayo all the way to a beach on the coast of chiba prefecture. steve overslept so he took the train/bus and met us there.
aside from the long drive, i was really looking forward to my first experience at a japanese beach. upon arrival, i thought, “man, the beach is empty.”
that was until i realized that japanese beaches revolved around ‘umi no ie’ or ‘beach houses’ which are makeshift beach restaurants/campout areas.
all the crowds congregate to these areas, meaning certain parts of the beach will be deserted while other parts are like a sardine can.
as per my usual custom, i took a nap on the sand to warm up before entering the water.
it being a pretty hot day, we rented an umbrella/parasol for the afternoon. the guy even came and dug the hole to plant it in for us.
a lot of the day was dedicated to just relaxing in the sun/shade, and entertaining 4-year-old mariya. she’s a cute kid that i’ve featured before. she’s so well-behaved and a kid that i don’t mind being around at all. i just wish i could understand what she’s saying cuz apparently she likes me but we can’t communicate.
one special thing that japanese people associate with summer and the beach is suika-wari. suika means watermelon and wari means to split. people put the watermelon on a towel and then give one person a stick and a blindfold. you spin the person around and then they have one swing to try and hit the watermelon. essentially, if you replace the watermelon with a donkey-shaped candy box, you have a birthday pinata.
i’ve always wanted to try it but we didn’t have an ice chest big enough to hold a watermelon. maybe next time. instead, i chose to wear a half watermelon on my head.
something i noticed at the beach was that a LOT of japanese people have tattoos. or another more likely explanation for their concentration at the beach is that almost all places in the city restrict people with tattoos from showing them. the beach is one of the few places where people can show them off and just be relaxed. in fact, i saw some yakuza (or at least some guys with full back tattoos resembling yakuza tattoos) playing dodgeball.
at one point during the day, we all got hungry and decided to try out the umi no ie restaurant.
they had quite a variety of foods but i decided to have 2 dishes:
overall, the beach was a fun experience that i hope i can do again before i go back to the states, but i’m not sure that i will because it’s such a trek. either way, this trip was a lot of fun.
okay, last random thing. i made friends with a lifeguard. japanese lifeguards wear funny outfits. that is all.