It’s no secret that Japan summers are hot, and we arrived just in time for a huge heat wave throughout the country. During the week this means drinking water incessantly while sweltering in office clothing and thanking the universe my apartment has air conditioning. The weekend brought a much appreciated opportunity to venture further in the prefecture and visit the beach in Takaoka. The day held many surprising moments.
Our first stop was a restaurant overlooking the beach called “Torattoria DOCG”. The space was beautiful, with large wooden tables and a wall of windows flooding the dining room with sunlight.
We each ordered a different pasta, and added the lunch special of salad, bread and ice cream. The food was decidedly Italian, but with touches of Japanese influence. The salad was topped with a characteristic ginger dressing and the tomato and basil pasta I ordered included some incredible Japanese mushrooms. When our desert arrived we were pleasantly surprised to try Japanese sesame ice cream for the first time!
Down at the beach gathering we swam and played to out hearts’ content chasing sand crabs and attempting to keep up with a Yoga class on the beach. Later in the night we were again surrounded by a variety of cultural influences and my presumptions about Japan were challenged by the abundance of dreadlocks and hemp pants. Certainly sitting on the beach listening to a DJ playing Bob Marley, watching a Japanese family’s dance performance and eating Brazilian BBQ and banana donuts was not an experience I anticipated, but that made it all the more enjoyable!
Today was the most stares I’ve gotten as a foreigner, and it was almost comical to have groups of people nudge each other as we walked by. It certainly makes for some interesting encounters, as those with some knowledge of English are eager to say hello. The roles were reversed when I heard Tagalog next to me and excitedly said “kumusta!“… Only to feel embarrassed when I couldn’t actually keep the conversation going. It didn’t seem to matter, as anytime words fail, smiles and bowing always pass the language barrier.