My friend, Marilyn was kind enough to play tour guide for me Monday, taking me across the "big green bridge" about 40 minutes south of Iwakuni to what is actually called Suo Oshima island. We were going to eat lunch and attempt to drive around the island to take in the views of the Seto Sea.
There is a big Hawaiian influence on this small island and the favorite place among Americans to eat there is a Hawaiian restaurant called Aloha Orange. We ate there for lunch... While all of the food was good. I highly recommend completing you meal with the macadamia nut pancakes for dessert. They were fabulous.
Of course, I forgot to take photos of all of my food, butt hat just means that if you're in the area, you'll have to check the place out for yourself... word of warning: They are closed on Wednesdays.
This is also the place where I finally had no choice but to use a Japanese-style toilet. I had just told my mother than morning that I had lived in Japan a year and had managed to avoid Japanese "squatty potties." But, I drank too much oolong tea and had to go. Long story short... I managed not to pee on myself, but I am not sure if the people before we were as fortunate. There was wet and dry urine all over the floor. I have no idea why anyone would think these holes in the ground are more sanitary or easier to use than western-style toilets, but my knees and my shoes disagree.
After gorging ourselves on chicken, pork and pancakes, we headed out on the road... without a map, without using GPS, to drive around the coast of the island. We stopped every so often to get some photos. There was one beach that was exceptionally scenic from the road:
But I was a little disappointed once we walked down to the beach itself. There was trash of all kinds, everywhere along the beach and in the water:
As you can see from the very corner of one of the pictures, there were people happily swimming in the water. Moms wading with their toddlers, dads fishing with their kids, grandmas splashing. The trash did not seem to bother them at all. All I could think of was that if I saw this stuff, what small stuff that I couldn't see as easily was out there? I left my shoes on. Being from Southern California, and having lived in Pensacola for four years, I guess I was surprised. The American beaches I have frequented are much better maintained than this one was, surprising because the Japanese seem to take very good care of their resources.
But after my initial shock, we moved further down the beach (not too far, the beach was not large by any stretch of the imagination) and managed to keep the trash out of our cameras' frames to get these shots:
After about 20 minutes, the heat and humidity has already done their worst to us, so we trekked back up the stairs to the road where we parked, so we could get back in to the car, which featured fully operational air conditioning. I, forgetting what country I was in, stepped off the top stair, on to the main island road, a few steps away from the path of a Japanese semi truck. I was looking for traffic coming from the left instead of the right, and not really thinking straight. Fortunately, this all happened in less than a second, so I was able to quickly turn and take that step to my left, just as the semi truck blasted hot wind on the side of my face as it passed harmlessly by. Although Japanese semi trucks are only two-thirds the size of American ones, I am sure I would have lost that battle handily. Luckily, I lived to laugh at my sheer stupidity.
We jumped back in to the car and headed off on our trek around the island. What we assumed was that there was a road that went all the way around the island along the coast. Um, no. As you can see from this map, the island that has Yashiro Island along the south of it, is Suo Oshima. The yellow road we were on, 437, ends. Quite abruptly.
And this is what it looks like when it dead ends:
The road ends in somebody's driveway. I bet that guy is really tired of random, lost Americans visiting his house. Either that, or he finds it hilarious. I did not see anyone peeking out of the curtains, snickering, so I can't be certain.
So, Marilyn and I turned around and headed back to the last little village we passed on our journey, about 10 minutes back. In that village, there was a sign that looked like this:
We had already gone the Amafuri way.... we knew that was wrong. So, we attempted to go the Yuu way. Yuu is the city on the mainland that the "big green bridge" connects to, so we figured it would get us home. The trick was that there were three roads that veered to the right where this sign was. And one of them was NOT a kilometer away. We already saw that. So, we went with the theory that we had to veer now and go 1 km to meet the 60. OK... no problem. Except Road 1 took us back toward Deadend #1, Road 2 took us to this bamboo forest in someone's front yard:
and Road 3 took us up a hill to more front yards. I guess we were not meant to drive in a loop around the island, rather a straight line, back and forth, which is what we ended up doing, with a brief stop at 7Eleven for the bathroom and peach sherbet balls in a bag.
While the day's agenda had its ups and downs, I was with good company, so when you have good company and you're both willing to roll with the "Japanese adventure" punches, such as deadending everywhere you go while you have to pee pretty badly, you have a great day. And I did have a great day. I am looking forward to deadend-ing and avoiding beach trash on the south side of the island next time. ;)