Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why can`t I find Orion`s belt.

Walk, walk, walk, bow, Roland says konbanwa (good evening), I say konnichiwa (good afternoon), the little Japanese lady replies with konnichiwa, I smile, walk, walk, walk, bow, we both say konnichiwa, the man on the bike says konbanwa, we both smile, walk, walk, run, nasty sea cockroach in the way, walk, walk, walk, discover a free outdoor gym.

Evening walks in Hiji are made of magic. A mere 5 minutes by cute shoes you will stumble upon the most amazing walkway winding down the coast. It is not really a beach, unless you usually tan on concrete and huge wave breakers but it has a great little path with a small wall protecting you from the biggest of the sea cockroaches and crabs. The path leads you past the ruins of a famous castle and while only the base remains it is still fun to pretend that you are a samurai laying siege to the sheer rock face that is all that remains of the once impressive fortress. Not that Roland and I would climb a heritage site, no that does not sound like us.

Then you stop walking and talking and almost breathing because in front of you lies, according to my Japanese guidebook, one of the most valuable views in Oita. You stop and stare at Beppu bay. A few feet away churns choppy water, annoying the nets cast our earlier that day and across the bay shines a thousand little lights. If you are lucky plumes of steam rise up from every hot spring in Beppu and if you are luckier still a cool breeze rattles at all the bamboo planted along the path. You are close enough to see the trains race between the buildings and the Asahi beer tower changing from white to red as it reminds you to pick up a six-pack on the way home. The four people in Hiji who own a dog, dress them in better clothes than I can afford and let them loose for a few precious moments, while girls and boys on bikes bob and weave through the joggers and strollers cluttering the path.

Oh the many braais we have braaied over the years!

Teaching my teachers the art of the braai.
Autumn braai
 As I mentioned earlier if you walk far enough you will stub your toe on a free gym with benches for pull-ups, sit-ups and pushups and any other equipment a young ninja warrior might require. I could not help but giggle when I first discovered it, since it gives me a vision of a Japanese man dressed in a business suit looking at the gorgeous view and proclaiming that ` people are going to be frightfully bored while standing here or even worse, might feel the urge to loiter around. Best we give them something to do. `

Rising steam of Beppu

This was not however the beach, Roland, Ducky and I turned into a proper `Boere Braai` for my birthday. I stumbled upon a quaint little sandy shore about 6 kilometers from my school. Here you can indulge in a little beach volleyball as the nets are never taken down (this not being SA, nobody thinks to steal the nets and have their own garden volleyball back home) or just get yourself an ice cold coke from a vending machine. Oh yes vending machines are found on beaches, in parks, at school and even on Mount Fuji. I kid thee not. They not only sell soft drinks, cold coffee, warm coffee, fake flavored purple grape juice but with real whole grapes (why Japan, why), green tea, black tea and milk tea but also any beer your heart desires. As for those who were thinking, `wow a beer in a vending machine, how odd` there is more my friend, you can get a 6-pack from the same dispenser and at only a few yen more than you would pay at the shop.

See!!! Mount Fuji vending machine.
 For the price of 2 peaches and a melon Roland and I purchased our very own BBQ, not barbeque, my kids say B B Q letter for letter and scavenged some pork chops and chicken. These were generously spiced with madam Paarman and I took care of the potato salad and braai broodjies. Ducky brought along some of the very tasty Japanese meat and snacks. We ate ourselves into a stupor and then while drunk on Fanta grape and chicken spice we lit two hundred Rands worth of fireworks. At one point we were lighting fireworks with fireworks and I could just see my dad telling me a long story of how someone he knew lost a foot or an eye so I was glad when they all went off without incident. Our little alien gathering must have looked very strange indeed and I image the glow-in-the dark bangles Ducky had covered us in must not have helped. It was a fantastic evening and if it were not for all the stars being in the wrong place it would have felt like home.


  1. What a great account. I clearly must go to this 24-7 beachvolleyball thing.

    ...I can tell... you're dropping these subliminal messages just for me ;)

  2. oh my hat!!!! awesome!! awesome!! awesome!! The way you describe your little adventures makes me feel as if I was right there with you:) Thanks Freda!! I love it:)

    Oh and I didn't know that your birthday is the day before mine. Us Virgos are just too awesome:)

    lotsa love \0/

  3. Banzai! That was great :P I'm amazed you guys managed to have a braai in Japan! I thought that was impossible? What was the general opinion about chops, potato salad and braai broodjies?