Monday, September 28, 2009

To the Sea!

The weather continues to be hot and muggy, and the best way to escape is to the sea! Kagoshima has some incredible beaches (this fact seems to be mostly ignored by most Kagoshima folk, aside from the fishermen, maybe because Japanese women are afraid of the sun?) that just need finding.
We took a boat to a hidden cove where we were greated as the celebrity foreign guests by all of the people picnicking in the sand. Fish had just been caught, so we were served fresh 刺身 (sashimi) and beer. The super prepared Japanese beachers (Japanese people seem to be incredibly good at always being prepared for outdoorsy encounters... We show up to a campsite lucky to have the bare essentials and are frequently saved by treats received from those around us who seem to like sharing foods as an excuse to start up conversation) showed us their catch of spotted eels and mahi mahi and we headed into the water for a snorkel.

Kagoshima has turned out to be an incredibly snorkeling spot! The waters are tropical-ish and we have found spots with great corals and puffer fish and millions of neon blue fishes and vast schools of little silver fish that are often served mixed with rice for cafeteria lunches at my schools. My favorite has been swimming with squid! They have the funniest goggle eyes that seem to give them a lot of personality.
Another weekend, another boat. A boating event organized by the local yachting club - get some foreigners and some Kagoshima folks onboard sail boats and race them around islands in the bay!

After the race and sailing lessons, we stopped at an island for a huge 焼肉 (yaki niku - grilled meat) picnic and a swim. So much sun, so full of meat, such wonderful warm waters!
Me and this guy loved trailing our toes in the water as the wind pushed us along.

Our great captain.

Another work-related feasting and drinking, another boat. The Japanese work environment is all about work parties and especially work drinking. To celebrate new foreign English teachers coming to Kagoshima we had this year's 宴会 (enkai, or welcome party) on a boat! It seemed like the best idea ever until we got on the boat and realized how tiny it was and how seasick we all quickly were becoming. Once the boat scooted into the bay and we had more alcohol in our bellies, it was again, a great way to get drunk with your co-workers.
At an 宴会 (work party) there are always many speeches given (Japanese people seem to love speeches and formality) and everyone waits to drink or eat until the first unanimous かんぱい (kanpai!).
The table was laden with 刺身 (sashimi), から揚げ (Japanese version of fried chicken that is eaten really often, in fact too often for my stomach) and other fish and rice dishes.
Our work party boat!
Exploring other beaches... we came across this beach that had an island shrine. A perfect spot for juggling practice and praying for future happiness!

Kinkoan Bay

A few last pictures from out countryside, granny bike rides in Hokkaido.