2006/09/18

Alien Encounter!

Though the beaches here just can't compare with those in Fiji or Hawaii, I do love the sea and still enjoy going the beach. There is a beach park I've been curious about that is just a little north of us - about 12 km (7.5 miles) as the crow flies. I've also wanted to visit a new farmers' market that we've passed on the the way to Mito City. Sunday was a good day to do both and as luck would have it, they turned out to be next to each other.

The park is called Kashimanada Beach Park and is just south of Otake - a popular summer swimming and surfing beach. This park is fairly new and has nice improvements. One portion of the road leading to it is still under construction. We visited the farmer's market first and found some good buys to pick up later. On the wall are photos of all the participating farmers, so you can identify who you are buying from.

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From the market there is a wide path leading to the beach which runs into the road that also goes there. Dogs are allowed, so maybe we'll bring Momo next time. There is a nice grass area by the beach where in one corner some concrete cows, sheep, and rabbits graze. A wooden observation tower offers a panoramic view up and down the coast. It was overcast, with a patch of blue directly overhead. The air was warm and clear enough that we could see the tall stacks at Kashima Harbor some 26 km (16 miles) to our south. A concrete path runs along the beach.

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Looking down from the platform of the observation tower I saw some kids playing on what appeared to be a round shipwreck or flying saucer.

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It was a very cool climbing toy with a long slide of rollers coming off one side and a rope climbing wall on the other. A sign explained the saucer shape.

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There is a bit of local folklore that dates back to 1803 during the Edo Era when the area now known as Ibaraki prefecture was called Hitachi. The story is called Utsuro-fune no Banjyo (A Foreign Woman in the Hollow Boat) and is about a woman who drifted ashore in a strange looking craft. She wore clothes that the local people could not recognize, had pink skin and red hair with a long white hair piece attached. She spoke a language that they did not understand. She kept a box, said to be 60 cm (24 inches) long, in her possession at all times and what it contained remained a mystery. Her craft had carpets inside and measured 3 ken, or about 18 feet, in diameter.

Unable to communicate, and thoroughly puzzled by the woman, they cast her with her craft back into the sea. The story was written about in 1825 and 1844 and the details were probably embellished such that the craft became round with a metal reinforced hull and glass top suggesting a submarine. Modern versions try to make the case that it was a space ship. More likely, the woman was Russian or some other nationality and the craft was a simple boat. It does make for a interesting story though and the basis of a great climbing toy by the beach.

Just when I had convinced myself the story was just a legend, I saw a strange woman climbing up the rope from the craft! Was it an alien? Was I experiencing a close encounter of the third kind?

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No. It was just K. Besides, this is Japan, and I was the only "alien" around.

The beach is posted "no swimming" due to the strong currents, but that didn't stop one guy from doing a bit of windsurfing. I was surprised to the find the water relatively warm for this latitude - or perhaps I should say not as cold as I would expect.

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We walked south along the beach until we came to one of the elevated boardwalks that parallel the beach and allow one to walk at tree top level through the pines. There are paths at ground level as well.

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The only "Alien Being" to be found at the park yesterday.


At the end of the boardwalk is a path up the slope and we took it, coming out of the pines in a neighborhood of homes next to the market. When we got there we bought some veggies and headed for Hokota City where we would have lunch.
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This dog waiting at the market reminded me of Snoppy facing a sign that reads "No Dogs Allowed", and also that it might be fun to bring Momo down to the beach park sometime.

6 comments:

Momo said...

BAD host Pandabonium :-(
Why leave me alon in home?????
I love to be an Alien Dog...

Pandabonium said...

Ah, Momo, I think you talked PinkPanther into speaking for you.

Well, to answer the question, it was because we didn't know what it would be like, we were going out to lunch at a restaurant (no dogs allowed), and we had grocery shopping to do as well. So it was so we wouldn't have to leave you outside all those places.

Now that we know what that beach is like, we can take you there sometime.

Momo the Wonder Dog said...

Thanks, PP.

Well, Pandabonium, I guess that's OK. I don't like riding in the car anyway and I would not have wanted to have to go to all those places and not be allowed inside. So next time, just take me to the beach.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I've heard the story of the "saucer woman" before. Actually, I've come across it on TV programs and also on "mystery hunter" or "paranormal" websites.

Yes, the woman and the craft were cast back into the sea, but some of the locals apparently say that her mysterious box was left behind (read "lifted by someone") and is still in the possession of one of the local families...though no one is willing to fess up, and the locals are surprisingly unwilling to talk about the story. With that fact in mind, I'm surprised they included that in the park.

Yes, it probably is a perfectly rational tale that got blown out of proportion as it was passed on through oral tradition over the years (so many legends are), but it's still fascinating.

Pandabonium said...

MM- that's interesting. I wonder what was/is in the box.. something disgusting, something magnificent, or an old fruitcake perhaps...

The Moody Minstrel said...

An antimatter warhead?

"Dad, what's this button d..."