My friend Corey Mintz settled on Shirahama as his almost-tropical destination of choice, for his trip to Japan. It was before my first trip and he got the idea from the Lonely Planet guide who raved about it. Shirahama roughly translates to “white sand”, and that’s what you get: 2km of white beaches on the Pacific Ocean. If you go off-season, which is essentially the 11 months of the year that aren’t August, no one’s there. “It’s like Muskoka after Labour Day” as I would explain to my Canadian friends after returning. I don’t have a clever colloquialism for you if you’re American, apologies.
Before the 2009 trip I saw Corey down and implored him to describe his trip to Japan, from start to finish, so I could steal all of the best parts. Shirahama was one of the best parts. I also learned not to only leave myself an hour to explore Sapporo, but that’s for another post.
So yeah: Shirahama is a resort town, sister-citied with Honalulu in Hawaii. It is 3/4 empty in the off-season. It is beautiful, a truly strange mix of post-war Japanese architecture and Beach Boys / Jan & Dean surf-culture. Oh, and naked outdoor onsens where you sit in a pool of scalding water as the waves crash down right next to you; the Pacific Ocean goes on forever.
I could live in Shirahama.
They greet you at the train station in Hawaiian shirts.
There are empty hotels everywhere.
This is a second-floor onsen, just off the beach looking out to the ocean.
This is the beach.
This was Tuesday night I believe. No one on the beach but us and the locals.
Because we were outside with two brand-new cameras, the setting on all of these photos are a little dark. It was an overcast day, but bright, and really warm. 75-80 degrees or so. You’ll also notice a significant different between Andrew’s photos (above) and mine (the next little batch).
Here’s another view of the onsen-on-the-beach.
In Japan there really are vending machines everywhere, including on the beach.
A meat little restaurant/ice cream stand, that you had to cross a bridge to get to. And check out that roof…!
You can see it better here, one edge of the beach has a large rocky outcropping that’s rather lovely to walk out onto. Looking at these pictures now, the scale is really weird… it’s actually a huge area and outcropping. Maybe I need a camera with a better depth of field? Next trip.
There were actually three onsen on the beach, this is a little foot-bath with a lovely tranquil garden and not-too-hot water. Customary with all Japanese baths, you had to wash your feet before you could put them in the bath. I mean, you didn’t Have To, there was no one around. But that’s when our morality is tested. Japan operates on the honour system, fella.
So this is just a little bit past the foot bath, and this is when our initial stroll on the beach got a bit creepy. It’s about 3 in the afternoon here, and this shop is closed. In fact, the restaurant and ice cream stand was closed too. Everything was closed. Heh.
The next batch of photos will be behind the cut, for folks reading at comics212.net. For folks on feed-readers, this is gonna be a huge post. Sorry!