17 August 2010

Utsumi Beach

Aimee and I went to the beach for the first time yesterday so I thought I'd take a break from the hiking updates to talk about our first beach experience.

  • we burned the bottom of our feet
  • we swam in the ocean for the first time
  • we ate gross hamburgers
  • we saw our first bare Japanese breast
Beaches in Canada have nice, warm sand that feels good to walk on. When you finally arrive at the beach, kicking your shoes off to walk in the sand is part of the beach-going experience. Not in Japan. The sand burns here. We kicked off our shoes and walked no more than 10 steps before screaming like little girls and promptly putting our sand-covered feet back in our shoes. It was awful. I thought that digging down into the sand might offer some reprieve from the heat but it's just as hot 6cm down as it is on the surface. It was ridiculous. I guess that's why everyone had rented umbrellas from the man in the parking lot.

After setting up as close to the water as possible we kicked off our shoes again and ran into the water. You know how back home it's little kids who run as fast as they can into the water and then fall over? At this beach that was what everyone did. No one was walking casually into the water. They were running [and shouting "atsui, atsui!" (atsui means hot) if their location happened to be far from the water] as fast as they could. Surprisingly it wasn't from running and popping out of her bikini that we saw our first Japanese girl's breast (and unfortunately for you that last sentence wasn't a transition sentence for the next paragraph).

We made it into the water without burning our feet and got to enjoy our first experience swimming in the ocean. Not just in Japan - anywhere. When we lived in Victoria the ocean was always too cold to swim in. I tried a few times to swim to an island in the summer but there were too many boats going through the channel and I feared I would be run over. However, I only had to fear being swam over by one of the numerous people who were in the water yesterday. It actually wasn't as busy as I thought it would be. There were lots of people but it was no more busy than Sauble Beach during the summer.

Swimming in the ocean was a lot of fun. Even though I knew it wouldn't hurt I was still surprised that salt water didn't sting my eyes when I opened them underwater. It stung Aimee's eyes though because she wears contacts and the water gets trapped behind the lense. The only downside to swimming in the ocean was the film of salt leftover after you dry out. Oh, and being incredibly thirsty when you get out of the water.

After our first swim we got something to eat. We were craving hamburgers and there just happened to be a hamburger shop on the strip. Unfortunately they were Japanese-style hamburgers, which means they were loaded with a ketchup/tomato sauce/salsa topping. It's not good on hamburgers and almost all hamburgers in Japan are made with this sauce on them. The exceptions we've found are a 50s diner near our place and McDonald's. I haven't yet been desperate enough for a hamburger to go to McDonald's.

We washed down our hamburgers with some ice cream and then went back into the water and, yes, saw our first bare Japanese breast.

Swimming ahead of us was a man pushing his girlfriend in a floating chair thingy. She was tanning and giggling, like girls do at the beach. The following quick conversation ensued:

Aimee: Japanese girls have no role here other than to dress prettily and giggle.
Mike: How is that stereotype any different than the stereotype of North American girls at the beach?

So we were swimming behind this guy pushing his girlfriend in her chair thingy. He kept trying to do something to her (poke her, touch her - I'm not sure) and she kept giggling like girls do when they're acting like what you're doing is something they don't want you to do. You know what I'm talking about. You have your arm around your girlfriend and then you casually slide your hand down to her bum and she giggles and slaps your hand away because that's what propriety demands. But she's not upset and you know that because of the giggle. This is what that girl was doing. And this is what she continued to do when he reached up and pulled her bikini down, exposing her breast.

Aimee and I found the whole episode incredibly funny. We are in Japan but the exact same things happen here that happen at home. I've seen this exact scene play out at every beach I've been to. This girl pretended to be angry and put on that pout face that girls have - you know the one - when they're trying to act indignant. But based on her reaction we figured she kind of enjoyed it. That and she didn't kick the shit out of him. Because I've seen this scene play out like that before, too. The guy pulls down a girl's bikini and she goes ballistic - rightfully so: don't take my amusement at this particular situation as condoning the behaviour - and beats him senseless. That is infinitely more amusing to me than seeing an exposed breast.

We enjoyed our first beach experience, but only because of the swimming. It was far too hot to do anything other than swim. We brought towels and books to lay on the beach and read but any part of our bodies that wasn't in the water immediately started to sweat. So the only thing you could comfortably do was swim.

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