With my assignments all wrapped and training declared “offu” (off) for a week or so, I have finally had the chance to enjoy some hard earned R&R. Thus, I arranged to take the bus from my small town in Osaka, to another even smaller town, 3 hours out of Tokyo, to spend a couple of quality days with some quality people…take it from me, don’t bother taking the over-night bus anywhere! The price aint that different to the shinkansen, and 12 hours crammed into a tiny seat in the middle row is a major drain! Lesson learned.
Japan is in the middle of summer, and it appears that the smaller the township, the hotter it gets!
This is a phenomenon that I am struggling with in Japan. As my home town in NZ is little ol’ Christchurch, a beautiful summer day peaks around an average of a dry 28 degrees, and the beach is never that far away…but on a stonking hot, humid in Japan, despite being an island country as well, it is exceptionally difficult to find a nice sandy beach, minus the oil slicks, medical waste and with user friendly waves!
Although, during my short time away from Osaka, I have found something close…and here’s what happened…
The roped off areas of beach, the warning signs stating; “no swimming here, move down the beach 10meters”, and the frail old man posing as a life guard telling us that a typhoon is coming and we best just sit on the sand today, made it a truly Japanese affair.
Nevertheless, water safety has always been at the top of my list of important things to consider, so I followed the directions, filled in the forms and took a number, in order to take a paddle around 4pm that afternoon.
When my number came up, I calmly entered the water avoiding any possibility of splashing anyone and putting out their cigarette.
The picture I have attached is of a beach in Ishihama, Ibaraki prefecture. Notice the shape of the sand before it hits the water…and as I found out first hand, this drop occurs again under the waves, making the surf especially big and rather devastating when it delivers you to the shore. Let me say, the crash landing in the “suddenly shallow” part is hardly worth the body surf in! But, as it had been many moons since my last visit to a beach, I manned up and took the hits on the chin (and backside, and shoulder etc!)
However, as legitimate as all the warnings signs, ropes and red tape turned out to be, I was surprised to see what the life guard was up to, as I put my life on the line for a taste of home and a bit of showing off. Have a look at the photo…I’ll wait…yes, that’s right, she is on her cell phone! I would say there was about 20 others in the water (out of shot), and Sally McCellPhone was the only “Baywatch babe” in sight!
I made a point of saying something, if only to clear my conscience…which seemed to irritate her a little…but que sera!
But I assure you, its not all surf, sand and dodgy life guards for me at this time of year…upon my return to Osaka shortly, I will be straight into the Taidai kendo club’s mid-summer training camp. Just as the infamous kangeiko (winter training camp) is held at the coldest time of year, the summer gasshuku is placed in the middle of August, the hottest time of year, to truly test the staying power of the jelly legs and heavy arms.
Trainings to this point have been increasingly difficult for me of late due to this heat. Kansai region especially, as some of you well know, would likely melt into a pool of gold, silver and bronze temples if it wasn’t for man’s best invention yet; the air-conditioning unit.
Unfortunately, such luxuries are not housed in the Taidai dojo, and despite the copious amounts of water and rice (curry rice that is) I absorb, I still struggle to perform well in the 35 degree temperature and 80% humidity.
With all this in mind, I have endeavored to keep up a routine of 1000 suburi a day during the break…which is certainly easy said than done some days! Especially when they closest thing to a shinai at the place I’m staying is a giant wooden umbrella pole that weighs the same as a suburi-to but handles like a…um…giant umbrella pole…mind you, beggars cant be choosers I guess!
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