“Do you see the jellyfish?” Mark pointed excitedly into the water.
I mumbled an acknowledgement, afraid that if I opened my mouth, something other than words would come out.
We had been bobbing up and down on a ferry for the last 15 minutes and it appeared I had left my sea legs back in Osaka.
We had set out early that morning from Nankai, taking a train to Wakayama, and then another to Kada. A short walk from the station, Kada Port was our second-final destination. If I managed to keep my breakfast down, we’d soon be exploring Japan’s real life Laputa.
“There’s no way my butt is going to fit through there.” Mark and I were staring at the small hole in the fence and I wondered nervously if this was such a good idea after all. “Can you go over, maybe?” I wedged the toe of my knock-off Toms into a foothold and tried to hoist myself up but I could feel it creak beneath me.” Nope, it’s going to buckle.” And I wasn’t ready for a hug from a roll of barbed wire.
Just then, a car came hurtling round the corner and we both jumped back in fright. “Shit. Do you think they saw us? They totally saw us.” Mark didn’t answer. I looked up and down the road. “I’m kind of scared now. I mean, I just don’t know about this. Maybe we should keep walking, there could be another one down the…” a sudden rustling near the ground distracted me and I looked down to find him scrambling through the fence. “Well fuck, ok.”
Standing on the side of the road was one thing, but we couldn’t risk being seen idling on the other side of the fence. It was now or never. I took a deep breath, got on my hunches, dived headfirst through the hole, and promptly got stuck in the middle.
In Out of the Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis wrote, “The love of knowledge is a kind of madness.” I must be kind of mad, then, because everyone who knows me knows that I suffer from incessant curiosity. And if you read my blog, you know that that curiosity regularly centres on the morbid. A forest of suicide victims ? A prison of torture? There like a fucking bear.
It sometimes disturbs me – perhaps ironically – how much I am drawn to this darkness. Especially so when I think back to how young I was when I began poring over news articles and books and documentaries on the most gruesome of cases, the most terrifying of things.
But then I remind myself that everyone loves a good train wreck; our propensity for the macabre just manifests in different ways…gory reality TV, courtroom dramas, disaster footage, celebrity scandals, reddit AMAs…
I indulged myself most recently by exploring an abandoned hotel on Miyazaki’s most southern tip.
If any island served as inspiration for ABC’s LOST (a.k.a the best television series of all time) it was surely Ōkunoshima. Featuring a golf course, pylons, old test laboratories and its very own hatch, it is exactly where every fan wants their plane to crash. You can even enjoy polar bears in miniature – the island is overrun with an abundant population of bunnies.
The latter has earned Ōkunoshima the nickname Usagi Jima (Rabbit Island), with tens of thousands of visitors flocking there each summer to enjoy its beaches, soak in its onsen and feed and pet the adorable, fluffy animals. But the island has a much darker past, and the smoke monster becomes more and move evident as you begin to explore.
On the third day of my trip to Hiroshima, I joined up with Mark, his brother, his brother’s partner, and her daughter to do just that. As it turns out, the bunnies are the least interesting thing about the place…
In early November, my former roommate and longtime bro, Matthew, came to Miyazaki for a visit. This is Part 1 of our road trip down the Nichinan Coast. Part 2 is here.
The third of November was a perfect autumn day. The sun was a warm blanket in the car and the crisp, sea air was cool enough to prickle the skin. It’s like having a superpower, I thought as we winded around bend after bend, being able to feel cold and heat independently at the same time.
It was the third day of Matthew’s visit and we were headed down the Nichinan Coast to see the wild horses of Cape Toi. On the way back, we would stop at Kojima Island and Udo Shrine.