Random Observation/Comment #73: Most people need a destination – a goal to motivate and make their efforts and rewards balance. These people wind up trying so hard walking that they forget to stop and look around. Our path was beautiful to begin with, but we each search for different beauties. I went bicycle-riding in Ojika to enjoy the journey, not the destination.
The day was hot and humid. I was schmoiling and exhausted from carrying around my large suitcase of clothes from the two months before the tour began. Gross. My chest is always the first to sweat. This leads to a large puddle in the middle of my t-shirt as if the sun had marked me as a target. As you can imagine, it’s extremely attractive (sarcasm).
After a two-hour ferry ride from Nagasaki, we arrived in Ojika. This town looked like it missed the past century of evolution. Cars were few to come by, and buildings were either wooden or colored that tan-ish generic complexion. The locals would collect cheap goods from the market vendors daily. Market owners and sellers looked like celebrities being flooded by reporters trying to get their attention for a controversial policy. It was a hectic battlefield used day after day for the same routine.
Ojika is a small island West of Nagasaki that receives very few tourists because of its remote location and tendency to attract typhoons. Intrepid trips to this paradise had been canceled multiple times in the past, making this even Yuka’s (our tour guide) first time visiting. Our hotel looked to be the only hotel in the area. Running at 3 stories high, the hotel was probably one of the tallest buildings in the village. Other houses further into the center of the more populated areas looked like they came straight from Memoirs of a Geisha. The narrow, cobble-stone roads and small paths between residential houses made me feel as if I had traveled back in time. There was even that generic Japanese guy sitting on a low stool wearing a v-neck white t-shirt and shower slippers.
With an afternoon to spare, everyone rented bicycles and explored the natural miracles. The bike ride was relaxing. I wasn’t trying to go anywhere and it was no race to get there. We pedaled in the general direction of a few temples and landmarks on the island, but it was just so “suzushi” with the wind evaporating the heat. Once we rode into the thick of the paths, closer to the edges of the mountain, I began stopping every few minutes to take pictures of my surroundings. I’m used to seeing the wheat and corn fields in Pennsylvania, but most of these open spaces were covered with rice patties. I saw a few old ladies working the field with those typical straw cone-shaped hats, tending the fields and waving as we rode by. Their smiles were not the prettiest, but they were quite sincere.
One of our first stops was this rocky sea shore that looked like slices of black rock and smelled of sulfur. This would be a very dangerous beach, but a perfect place to unroll a picnic blanket and watch the sunrise. I didn’t have the privilege of watching the sunrise or sunset here because of our tight schedule, but I imagine it would be unforgettable. There was a rock that erodes about 5 cm each year and forms what looks like a dragon’s eye.
The uphill pedaling left me exhausted and sweaty, while the downhill joyride was always interrupted by some dragonfly hitting my face. I wouldn’t exactly pay for this rollercoaster, but the surroundings were distracting enough to make up for it. Be sure to stop on the bridge and look at the cows grazing in the distance. They’re so tiny – I could hold them in my hand and put them in my pocket. The atmosphere there was perfect and I will never forget it. Even as I write this, I can close my eyes and recreate the loud insect shrills accompanying the consistent complaints from RJ. C’mon, man. Benkyo! Benkyo! Benkyo (Golden Boy reference – look it up, dummy (Sea World 2021 reference)). I will miss this place.
~See Lemons Cycle