Of Embers and Sand
I just came back from Miyazaki today, after a weekend of fun and frolics at the beach. I left for Kagoshima on Saturday with a few acquaintances and arrived to the beautiful (for Japan, that is) Akune beach -a popular place among young people, surfers and families, and one of the few beaches in the country that has escped being walled up in concrete for no reason ("Ah, what a beautiful place. Quick! Let's bulldoze it and cover it up in cement!"). I later came to realise, of course, that the place is not so popular with families and young people as it is popular with /some/ families and certain breeds of young people. A tacky ramshackle structure stands at the entrance with floaters in the shape of animals for rent and the despicable whirring of jetski motors faded behind a speaker blaring awful pop music made the place look like a cheaper version of your most horrible seaside town prejudices. Only that there was no town. Or waves, for that matter. I am still debating whether I unwittingly went to a lake instead.
However, I decided to take it all at face value with a smile and had fun regardless. I was even lured into riding a "sea biscuit" (aka "the Raping Arse-Punisher"), a strange floating contraption pulled at high speeds by a jetski, in a fashion similar to water skiing, but sitting down. The speed and the pressure are such that one's arse is sucked into the sitting hole while angry splashes of trapped water pound it with the might of ten thousand sledgehammers. Like an irritated 200lb Russian masseuse wearing a clown suit, it was as amusing as it was painful. I can see the adverts
already -"Try our Sea Biscuit: the fun game that will make you want to scream!"
In the afternoon the people I was with went back to Kumamoto, and I decided to take a train to Kagoshima city. I spent most of my time there getting caned on top of a concrete structure at the port facing Sakurajima (an active volcano forever looming across the water in a sort of ominous final countdown), watching a firework show and eating pizza. I sat there doing nothing in particular, thinking strange thoughts while I waited for my friend, who was scheduled to arrive later that evening. Hours later, after meeting up with him, we went out exploring the nightlife of Kagoshima.
Kagoshima -or Satsuma, as it was known in times past- is both the the heart of an old and powerful fiefdom and the historical birthplace of the famous Satsuma rebellion that took place in the late 1800s. As would be expected, the place is littered with graves and even a "monument to great men" (I jest you not, this is the official name) for the thousands upon thousands that have died at some time or other in Satsuma. Now, I don't know if it is the lingering feelings of inevitable doom waiting patiently behind the toxic fumes of Sakurajima or the anxious fear of yet another rebellion ravaging their homeland, but the people of Kagoshima have either not been reproducing with the same zest of other Japanese cities or they have become too scared to leave their houses. Whatever the reasons might be, I have only one thing to say: I have seen livelier funerals and mass sepulcres.
With my eensy weed stash at an end, whate else could we do but get very pissed at a random bar nearby? Luckily the barman liked us and let us stay there drinking for free all night as long as we entertained his customers by speaking English and, well, being gaijins; it was a good choice of place too -there were almost five people in there!
The next day, after suffering from a throbbing hangover and venturing into a waveless beach on the other side of Kyushu we decided to go to Miyazaki instead, prompted by a dude at a surf shop. Down in Miyazaki I met lots of new people and managed to do some surfing (if it can be called that - "falling over pathetically and almost knocking myself unconscious with the board" might be more appropriate). We camped on the beach. Adam made a bonfire while I created a tent out of driftwood and plastic to shelter us from the rain that night. Of course it didn't work and we still got soaked, but it was fun pretending that it would nonetheless.
I'm out of witty comments and sarcastic remarks so I'll edit this later.