The weather forecast for the August Obon holiday was rather unpredictable to say the least. Pretty much everyday was meant to be rainy or stormy if you believe what the apps tell you! I had to basically just wake up and see what it was like each day and then make a decision.
It was baking hot one morning so I decided to head down the line to Izukyu-Shimoda Station. There were a couple of places I wanted to see but as the sun was shining so brightly I thought it would be nice to spend a bit of time at what is often regarded as one of Japan’s most beautiful beaches.
Typically as the bus moved down the coast a few spits of rain appeared on the windows but I wasn’t too worried and it was ok when I disembarked at Shirahama Beach. I walked on to the sand feeling a little out of place wearing my trainers and socks. I found a spot, sat down and removed those items. No word of a lie but within 30 seconds it started raining and got heavier resulting in quite a downpour which made me run off back across the road to shelter at the 7-Eleven store.
When I visited Shirahama a few years ago with my wife and her parents it was completely deserted but not this time! It was packed full of people, most of them with tents (as is the way in Japan) despite there being a sign saying they were prohibited!
The beach was always just a bit of an add-on to my day and not my real priority. I just wanted to see it again but in some ways I wish I hadn’t bothered as my view of it has probably deteriorated a bit due to the crowds and of course the weather! Typically the sun had just started to shine and blue skies had reappeared by the time I left to visit a couple of new places.
Everyone on the bus was going to the station but I needed to get off a stop or two before that. When I pressed the button on the bus the driver didn’t even believe it and asked for reconfirmation that the person wanted to get off there. I pressed again and then had to push my way through a packed bus to get to the front to pay the fare. A short walk up the road from there was the slightly decrepit Shimoda Castle (below).
Don’t be fooled though as this is a completely fake castle that was built in 1965 as an art museum. It’s actually been closed since 2008 but it’s fairly easy to get into the grounds. However, I could hear many voices (not just in my head!) in the forecourt and it seemed like people were living there so I decided to not venture in. I was happy to admire it from afar though and enjoy it’s deteriorated appearance.
Passing the mermaid statues on the walk to the station, I noticed there was a free public foot bath.
I really don’t know if such facilities can remain clean and I probably didn’t do anything to dispel that theory as I dipped my slightly dirty, sandy feet in for some much needed foot therapy. Usually I have a small hand towel with me on such hot and sweaty days but I’d forgotten it so had to use my hat to dry my feet afterwards!
Whenever I’m in Shizuoka I tend to go through the motions of buying some Shizuoka cola (below) just for the sake of it. This time though I noticed in the station souvenir shop that there wasn’t just the usual green one but also a cloudy-white one which I purchased for my very short train journey a few stops back up the line to Kawazu Station.
The bus I thought I could get from there wasn’t operating on the day in question so I had to wait nearly 50 minutes for the next one. There was a beach (below) just down the road so I thought I might as well go and check that out. This one, known as Kawazuhama Beach, was all a far cry (in more ways than one!) from the one at Shirahama earlier in the day!
Yet again on the next bus, the driver didn’t believe I wanted to get off where I said so I had to reassure him that it was the place I desired. Just a few minutes up the road was this interesting structure known as the Kawazu Loop Road (below) is a well-engineered steel bridge. The full experience no doubt comes from driving it though but as I was unable to do that I had to settle for viewing it from nearby.
This award winning construction is 80 metres in diameter and 250 metres per lap. It was built in the aftermath of an earthquake in 1978 as a route to avoid landslides by taking advantage of the lessons learned from road disruptions caused by such disasters.
Bonus: Most of my free time in the August holiday was spent on my bike but there were a couple of days of doing not too much. The day after my trip down the coast I thought it would be an easy relaxing afternoon playing some table tennis with my mother-in-law at her local club! It was good fun but turned out to be a lot more energetic than I thought!
Click here to read ‘Down To The Southern Tip Of The Izu Peninsula’
Click here to read ‘Banana Wani-En Gardens’