Over the past few years, thanks mostly to my friend Louis, I’ve truly become a prairie girl but regardless of how many years go by, time can’t take the ocean out of my blood. As a child, I went to sleep to the sound of the waves and to this day, there is nothing I find more relaxing. The past two days at Nojimazaki on the southern tip of the Bozo Peninsula were truly subarashi (wonderful)!
We left home at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, took the train to Chiba and went the rest of the way by bus arriving at Nojimazaki shortly before 11:00. Much of the trip reminded me of driving through parts of B.C. As we drove through forested hills, even the roadside signs reminding drivers to watch for wildlife looked familiar except that the animals depicted on the signs were monkeys! As we neared the southern coastline, however, the forest gave way to stately palm trees and other tropical looking plants.
Though there are some sandy beaches, the coastline is mostly very rocky and rugged. Immediately across from our hotel was Nojimazaki Park, a beautiful promontory jutting out into the ocean and topped by the Nojimazaki lighthouse. We arrived several hours before check in time at our hotel but were able to drop off our bags and begin exploring right away. We started with the lighthouse, climbing the 77 stairs that spiral upward followed by two ladders with twelve steps each. When we stepped out onto the viewing platform high above the ground, I was delighted to discover that, with a metal railing reaching nearly to my chin and spectacular views spread out before me, my usual fear of heights didn’t bother me at all! After touring the lighthouse, we spent many hours beach combing, examining tidal pools and enjoying the sights and sound of the surf. A favourite spot quickly became a bench perched high on the rock far out on the point where a marker indicated that we were looking directly south and were at the spot from which the sun could be seen both rising and setting over the ocean. We couldn’t read the Japanese script on the marker but a couple who were just leaving as we arrived at that spot for the first time, offered to take our picture there and also explained, mainly through gestures, what the significance of the spot and the marker were. Later in the afternoon, we spent an hour exploring further along the shoreline by bike and in the evening, after dark, we returned to the park again so that I could see the stars. Standing under the beam from the lighthouse as it swept across the water and passed over our heads was so very cool!
We were the only non Japanese staying at our hotel and we were treated like royalty. Thanks to our friend, Minako, who phoned ahead to confirm our reservation and alert the staff to the fact that we don’t speak Japanese, there was someone at the front desk when we arrived who was able to greet us in English. We had reservations for the 7:00 p.m. sitting at dinner and again, we were greeted by name and a waitress who spoke a little English was hovering nearby, obviously awaiting our arrival.
The dinner buffet was fantastic. We started off with a wide variety of salads as well as appetizers of raw fish. Though we both prefer the texture of fish that’s been cooked, we can also enjoy it raw. Next we filled our plates with more seafood and all sorts of meats, vegetables and things unknown. There were so many choices that we couldn’t possibly try everything but we did make sure we had some of the seafood and vegetable tempura that was being cooked as we served ourselves. Dinner wrapped up with a variety of little desserts including a delicious mango pudding. Breakfast the next morning was another buffet and included scrambled eggs, tiny sausages, fruit and a variety of breads as well as many salads and other foods that we were unfamiliar with.
Since Japan is known as the land of the rising sun and this was likely the only opportunity I would ever have to watch the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean, I set the alarm clock for 4:10 a.m. hoping to catch the sunrise from our hotel balcony. Amazingly, I awoke very suddenly from a deep sleep at 4:09, exactly one minute before the alarm was due to ring! Unfortunately, there was just enough cloud that I couldn’t actually see the sun break over the horizon but I did watch the clouds turn pink and then slowly fade to bluish gray before heading back to bed for a few more hours sleep.
After breakfast we walked the shoreline again watching with fascination the many, many locals far out on the rocks harvesting baskets full of sea life, presumably seaweed and shellfish though they were too far away for us to know for sure. Others came and went in small fishing boats.
In spite of the fact that this is supposedly rainy season, the weather was superb. The morning clouds burned off by noon and even though I used sunscreen, I came home with a bit of a burn especially on my neck and arms.