Jul 30, 2018
Have you ever been in the middle of nowhere in Japan? I feel like most people consider Tokyo the image of Japan, but when I go to inaka, I feel like it's the real Japan. I guess because we can see the real culture of Japan and not only modern and imported ideas. Nature is also a big part of it, but it's mostly the people that seem more real to me. The elderly rice farmers are the heart of Japan more than the salaryman of Tokyo.
We got a chance to go to this kind of place when we tried to go to Tawarajima in Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture. This place is literally off the beaten path. Nagato City isn't a big city to begin with, but then getting to the beach where this island (sometimes peninsula?) is accessed was not easy. GPS had us go down very narrow old roads through a town of damaged and abandoned beach houses. When it instructed us to go down a steep narrow road, we asked a local if that was the best way to go about getting to the beach. The 80+ year resident of the neighborhood told us to park the car and walk, and it's a good thing we asked. The road got narrower and more broken up until it was only wide enough as a foot path. We went through the stepped rice farms where she worked.
The beach was covered in black smooth rocks instead of sand, so the waves made a nice sound. There were piles of uni that had been farmed and tons of seaweed on the narrow shore.
Unfortunately, we didn't know that Tawarajima can only be accessed in low tides. The path to the island wasn't very close to the path to the beach and even walking along the shore without getting wet was impossible. We quickly had to forget about getting on the island that day. It was disappointing, but the experience of getting off the beaten path was nice anyway.
The local also told us to go the other way around to get back into town because the road was better. She said she's got two rice farms and a garden where wild boar and tanuki come to eat sometimes. She said it's okay because they look skinny so they must be hungry. It sounds exactly like something from an old Japanese fairy tale!