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  • Nigel W. Ruddock

There is something odd about this valley....

Friday 金曜日 5th April

My host serves me breakfast at my table overlooking the wide ocean horizon. I am about 200 km south west of Tokyo, but it feels like another planet. There's no buffet here in this guesthouse - my host simply serves me with a smile and without delay. I sit patiently, like a victim of some unknown ritual, as the following dishes arrive at my table. Miso soup and salad (go on Nigel, it will not kill you!), bacon & eggs (that must be the western part), a glass of cold water, ham and cold sweet melon…and toast! I can’t touch the salad, but I turn eagerly to the coffee (fine china cup….. how civilised)…


How civilised....

which is accompanied by a little sachet of liquid sugar (well, why not?). Then a caramel dessert arrives…this is really confusing, but I eat it all the same. I notice a piano in the corner, but don’t dare try it out…well not at breakfast- time at any rate. But the tranquillity of my breakfast reverie does not last long.

The door swings abruptly open, and in marches a tourist with a phone glued to her ear. She talks to the host in English, and lets all know (that’s me) that she is “waiting for a call from my airline” How crass can you get. Do these people have no manners? She does say sorry, but in English of course. It is quite obvious to me that behind her smiles, the host doesn’t understand a word, and what she is thinking is another matter….

I escape outside and ask to use the bicycle reserved for guests. Off comes the dust sheet, up goes the saddle, and off I pedal down the road. I love cycling in Japan. You are free from the constraints of a car, or a bus, or a train. You just stop whenever you want to and explore.

First stop is a little harbour up the road. Fishing boats gently tug at their moorings and the area is littered with all the paraphernalia of fishing….


Author with bike and boat in fair weather....




There are views of the town of Dogashima...see map.....(for those who like orientation)...




The main reason I was here was to explore the caves and beaches.


Dogashima

This little bay was quiet. The volcanic rocks here have been shaped into fantastic forms by the wind and rain...


volcanic rocks....

but further out the sea was far too rough for any sight-seeing boats.


Early flowers graced the hedgerows....


and the now unpopular Showa Emperor gets a mention at a beauty spot....

At least it wasn't Goethe!

Dogashima


Fresh spring colours....



old style post box...


I head for a coffee shop and get a snack.

There is some terrible music playing here, so I wander uphill away from the cafe and away from the coast. I find myself going up a rough road, which, I presume, must go somewhere (an assumption bred by an education with British Ordnance Survey maps). The sun shines and it is warm. But there is something odd about this small valley. There is an air of dereliction here. I pass an overgrown pay booth for a long disused car park....


Red canisters peep out from amongst the undergrowth......


Further on I see the remains of a car under the trees. Weird......





This is not the Japan I know. The bits have been here a long time. Then further on a building looms through the trees – a rusting iron fire escape and broken windows reveal a deserted hotel......


But this is really strange: The front door yields to the touch and I am in a lobby. Decay is everywhere, but not vandalism.


A fully equipped first aid box is on the counter. It has not been touched for, I would say, at least twenty years.


The story continues on the upper floors. The doors to the rooms are locked, their numbers still partly visible....


But the landing railings have sort of disintegrated into thin air.


Just how long does it take for an iron railing to rust like this? In Europe this would long ago been vandalised and covered by graffiti, but here the whole place has been left to natural decay. Perhaps it was an investment in the boom year which went bust?



I feel that I am not really meant to see this somehow. It doesn’t fit the public image of this country. Leaving this rather forlorn site I venture further up the valley. It eventually peters out near a sign,


Why this is temporary is a puzzle,,,

and there is a lonely cherry tree blooming.....


Time to return to civilisation. It must be about 24°c, so I keep to the shade on the way back, passing the spooky hotel....

and eventually reach my bicycle. I get back to normal with a soft ice cream, and set off further down the main coast road to the next village. To get to this I have to plunge down a very steep minor road, eventually reaching the water. Here there are no boats, but a wild beach and some rather strange rock formations - volcanic "plugs" rising out of the sea.

The Futo coast

This is the famous Futo coast - which has merited the accolade of "Geo Park" under Unesco.




The edge of the Pacific...

A steep hiking trail, the "Tomyogasaki Trail", led up from the beach. I ventured up, meeting a group of midde-aged ladies, all correctly attired with sun hats and walking sticks, coming the opposite direction. It was a bit early in the year for most flowers..... however....

Up on the headland the view was fantastic...



....Detritus littered the beach. Cedar wood washed into sculpture.....

...and volcanic rock, in its form, showing how it had been pushed up and up.....

realising that this was my last day on the Izu peninsular before heading back to Tokyo, I idled in the late afternoon sun.......



End of post. Did you enjoy reading this? I would like some feedback...thanks!

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