The beach at Hane station.
After sweating through all of my clothes on my way to and from Yunotsu Onsen a nice swim was in order. Consulting the Railway Mapple (recommended for any train trip) I figured that little Hane station was the closest to a beach. The little village, abandoned by any tourist traffic that might have been there merely a month ago, looked totally shut down. Little beach-side hotels, restaurants, and bars were all shut down for the season or under repair. Abandoned while the weather was hot and the swimming was great. Why the lack of beach goers? Typically the first half of August is taken up by Obon where you visit your relatives houses and pray at your ancestors graves leaving no time--or money--for going to the beach. Also, August is the month where all of the Kami, the various Shinto gods, gather in Izumo Taisha, a grand Shinto shrine located ironically a few train stops north of this beach. During this time it is thought to be unsafe to enter the water.
|Housing along the road in front of Hane station|
Either way there were no stores open along the beach, and only a few people bathing. I ducked around one of the giant concrete tetrapods to exchange my sweaty clothing for my bathing suit and dashed into the water. Swimming in the calm waters of the Japan Sea never cease to be one of the most amazingly blissful experiences I can have in Japan. Never too cold or too hot and always great for just floating and staring up into the massive blue sky above you. Such a peaceful and transcendent moment can scrape off many months of built up stress like plaque being taken from tooth. Just writing this, I'm thinking of how can I get back to the Japan Sea one more time before the weather changes.
|The shadows offered little relief from the afternoon sun, not that I wanted any.|
In the water, I chatted with some jr. high school girls who came in about the same time that I did. Shimane doesn't get many foreign tourists, and out here in the middle of no where even less. Sadly, their English comprehension and typical bashfulness did not let them go beyond a simple, yet giggly, "Hello!" Floating there in the water I talked to them in Japanese for a while. They thought it very cool that I lived in Nishinoimya to which I replied that I wished I could live in Shimane. I tried to teach them to say good afternoon, said good bye, and swam back to the shore. I was getting hungry and needed to search for a shower of water faucet of some kind to rinse my self off before returning to the trains.
|A closed storefront, or just a house? Abandoned or not? I could not tell.|
Leaving my damp swimsuit on and putting on my boots only, I took off along the shore. I stuck my dry, yet stinking of sun baked sweat, clothing in a bag to carry with me. My body soaked up the sun. I didn't care if I got a burn. A sign of total relaxation in the Japan Sea it would be. I thought to myself. Walking down the beach and back up the main street, I couldn't find a public shower or water faucet anywhere. Hoping there might be at the station I returned there to find nothing. Some stations have water taps on the platform for riders to use, this one, the one that I really needed it, didn't. Returning to the beach I saw a family using one of the outdoor showers mounted on the wall of a hotel. I asked if I could use the water too, but they replied that they weren't sure if they could use it either. Another person at the beach told them that the showers worked and that it *should* be OK to use. I jumped into the ocean once more as I waited for the family to finish and quickly, as I didn't want to abuse the hotel's unknowing kindness, washed the salt and sand from my skin.
Now my thoughts turned to my grumbling stomach. People say there are convenience stores and vending machines everywhere in Japan. That's right, up until you really need one. Walking the opposite direction form the station as I came, I found a little supermarket. Putting on a shirt I entered and enjoyed the cool radiating from the ancient coolers. Old refrigerators make a much better feeling cool for some reason. A sale priced tonkatsu, some fried chicken and spinach salad made my lunch. But where was the beer? A bit father down the road the cashier told me.
|Looking towards Matsue and Yonago from Hane station.|
The liquor shop was not that far down the street. I entered the unlit and sparsely stocked store to find no one working. A loud "sumimasen" brought out the mother of the house to take my money for two cans of Asahi. By this time I was afraid of missing my train. I'd have to wait an hour or more if I missed this train. Getting to the station with time to spare, I adjusted my bags and got ready to ride the trains again. Once the train appeared, however, there was a problem. It was packed.
I let the train go with out me on board, and chilled out in the heat of the station building eating my food and drinking my beer. A older couple came and were looking for the time table or map of the area, I let them look at mine. An hour later I got on the train. I hoped the smell of my soaked and dried out shirt and jeans didn't stink up the train as I watched the sun set on Shimane. It was dark as I arrived at Yonago in Tottori prefecture. I entered Shimane the same day before the sun had risen and left after it had set.