Thursday March 11th – “Reaching Aoshima”
Driving with Hiro was just as I imagined. Awkward silence. I searched my brain countless times for subjects to talk about, but I ran out way too soon. And couldn’t exactly say, “One-word-Hiro” was a great help, when it came to conversation.
Instead I decided to focus my attention on the beautiful scenery, which started to stretch before my eyes. Tall mountains, gray cliffs and the blue ocean, which sparkled in the sun.
I finally saw a sign saying, Aoshima, but Hiro drove in another direction. He told he wanted to show me some nice scenery and then after we would go to Aoshima. The roads became smaller and suddenly we were in the middle of a town. A town build up around a beautiful beach. I was pretty sure my mouth was wide open, as a watched the small, typical Japanese houses, facing the sparkling, blue ocean. The houses were on various ground levels, since the town was growing on a steep hill, facing down to the ocean.
Hiro took a turn down another road and we were now on our way back to Aoshima. I gave Hiro a look; maybe he wasn’t such a bad tour guide after all. A silent one, no doubt, but he had actually given this trip some thought.
We once again passed the Aoshima sign, this time following the directions. After driving through a mountain, there was a full ocean view on one side of the road – on the other side was the steep mountainside. After driving a little longer, Hiro found a parking lot and we got out of the car. We weren’t at Aoshima, yet, so where were we? Hiro told me I should taste the “Apple-mango” soft ice they sold here. After buying the ice cream, we went to a viewing deck facing the ocean.
After some time, Hiro asked if we should continue to Aoshima. I nooded and we got back to the car. It was a short drive, but the continuing silence made it feel longer. I had started to give up on even trying to start a conversation. We pulled in on another parking lot and once again we got out of the car. We followed a cemented path along a huge beach. I could quickly spot Aoshima. The tiny island in the ocean, not so far from the shore we were walking on. There was a long stone bridge, leading from our side of the shore, to Aoshima’s tiny shore. Even from afar, you could spot the great red torii (gate), which seems to be the symbol of Aoshima.
There was a nice amount of people visiting Aoshima on this sunny day. Next to the torii was the famous, devil’s washboard (Oni no Sentakuita). Long, straight, rows of salt rock, visible during low tide. I didn’t expect there would be that many rows of rocks. Many people gathered to take pictures of these strange, geological formations.
We passed the Jinja and followed a small path to the right; this narrow path was also surrounded by jungle and blocked out all outside noise. At the end of the path was a small jinja, also red. We made a u-turn and took the same path back out, ending up at the red torii again. Hiro asked if I wanted to walk around the island and I said sure. – Since I’ve always liked walking. As we started walking away from the torii and the shrine I started to notice the lack of other people. Hiro and I walked silently side by side (though with distance between us) and we started to reach the end of the island.
“Daremo inai yo. Kiotsukette” (Here’s nobody around. Watch out.) He said and gave me a smile.
I gave him a small push to the side. My way of saying: bad joke.
“Sou ne. Chotto abonai kamo ne” (True. Maybe it is a bit dangerous.)
“Sou yo. Otoko wa ookami desu kara” (True. Because men are wolves.) Hiro said and laughed.
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. He finally talked and that was what he gave me.
We reached the end and Hiro went to walk on the laid out stones, marking the edge, where the sand met the ocean. There was about a meter from the stones to the water surface.
Hiro was facing the water, with his back turned on me. I looked in the same direction as he was, but for some reason, I wasn’t watching the scenery, I was watching him.