Day 4 of my camping trip with Anthony to Kotobikihama beach (northern Kyoto Prefecture, Japan) was a day full of sun and sand, marred only by a few minutes of wind-driven terror (or, at least, wide-eyed surprise, as my tent almost got blown away).
The night was pleasantly warm, as opposed to the freeze-your-toes-off cold that it had been on previous nights, so that was welcome. Unfortunately, along with the warmth came a howling wind that buffeted the tent in loud gusts that were jarring both mentally and physically. I spent from about 1:30am to 3:00am trying to make sure my tent and Arthur's sunshade didn't get blown away, but the sunshade eventually succumbed. Arthur and I just balled it up and put it out of the wind.
Anthony slept through it all.
It was mostly calm in the morning, but we heard that it might rain in the evening. A little rain can really spoil things, especially making it more difficult to put away the tents (you have to ensure they're completely dry before you store them). Even at 8am, the sky didn't look all that inviting, so we decided to hedge our bets and make a contingency plan, with Arthur's wife checking around to the more experienced campers to see what they would do were it to rain.
She came back with great info about an inn that was near, had availability, and was reasonably priced. The timing was perfect, because just as she was telling us, we felt a few drops of rain. It was still only 10am, but that decided it, and she made the reservation.
We had four hours before we could check in, but we'd felt only a few drops, and it didn't “feel” like it would really rain for quite a while. So, we slowly started packing up.
At one point a man came over to present us with a tiny octopus he'd just caught....
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 35 mm — 1/100 sec, f/8, ISO 320 — map & image data — nearby photos
Yesterday, the same man had unexpectedly caught a big octopus – its head was the size of a volleyball, and it took two grown men to carry – that he had shared with everyone. It was tasty.
We continued packing, with a few sprinkles coming and going, but it eventually really did start to rain, and everything became a complete mess. As I mentioned earlier in this story, there was a staggering amount of yellow pollen everywhere, and now with the rain, it became a soppy mess. It didn't seem to be water soluble, so didn't just run off with the water; you had to actually wipe it off.
Here's a the top of my car, sporting little puddles of pollen-filled water...
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 200 mm — 1/50 sec, f/8, ISO 400 — map & image data — nearby photos
Toward the end, a storm arrived in full force. The wind became so continuously strong that I could actually pack away the three poles on one side of Arthur's sunshade, leaving it supported by only the three poles on the other side. The wind did the rest and kept the tarp well and completely over us the whole time, offering some protection from the rain as we finished packing. The wind was that strong.
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 65 mm — 1/80 sec, f/5, ISO 400 — map & image data — nearby photos
Supported on one side by three poles, on the other by the wind.
By the time we got the last things and ourselves into our cars, it was a full downpour, and we were soaked. At least we'd made the reservation for the inn.
I had no idea where the inn was, so followed Arthur as his wife navigated. I was quite surprised when 30 seconds later – I kid you not – we arrived. It was a third of a mile away, just outside the entrance to the beach.
At a time when a dry area under an overpass would have been a welcome luxury, this place was heaven. The New Marutasou is a clean, neat, ryokan-style inn with three huge hotspring-fed baths. We took advantage of the hot baths right away, and Life was Good. Very Good.
After our baths we relaxed for a while, and I snapped this picture of Arthur's wife sitting in the window of their room as the wind and rain roared outside....
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 27 mm — 1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 640 — map & image data — nearby photos
( image processed to create a “Dave Hill Look,” sort of )
Toward the evening, the rain had stopped and we could see a nice sunset brewing, so I went out with the camera...
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 48 mm — 1/1250 sec, f/4.5, ISO 640 — map & image data — nearby photos
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 200 mm — 1/100 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250 — map & image data — nearby photos
into the dark night
( uh, or something like that )
The sunset ended up being fairly lackluster (a photo of it appeared on this post on the day I returned).
The rain had stopped, but the wind was still blasting away powerfully, as were the wind-whipped waves. The area where we'd played yesterday was now all different, as both the storm-driven river and waves resculpted the sand.
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 44 mm — 1/60 sec, f/4.5, ISO 640 — map & image data — nearby photos
When I returned, they were all playing Go Fish...
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 22 mm — 1/45 sec, f/3.8, ISO 1000 — map & image data — nearby photos
This inn is apparently known for its meals, but we got the non-meal plan, so ended up having what turned out to be wholly uninspiring bentos from a shop in town. But let me tell you, a shampoo and a hot bath makes everything okay, and we all slept wonderfully that evening.