Monday, July 17, 2006

The end of the world as we know it

This weekend was a long one here.
Apparently to celebrate the ocean. I marked the occasion by heading to the coast by way of the Shiretoko peninsula, sometimes called the end of the earth. This area has recently been named a world heritage site, and is a large natural preserve. It was incredibly beautiful, but somewhat disappointing at the same time. Due to it's new status as a UNESCO site, much acess has been restricted within the park. This is great, but as a result one of the things I really wanted to see there -- a series of pools fed by a hot waterfall -- is no longer acessible by car, and I wasn't prepared for a 12km hike. [note: I have since discovered that the road is closed due to construction, presumably to allow for increased car traffic. I felt better when I thought it was closed to protect it from tourists...oh well, maybe I'll have to go to Shiretoko again] Compounded by the fact that there were plenty of other tourists with the same idea for the long weekend, and the presence of bears shutting down another popular hike it was a bit of a let-down.

Don't get me wrong -- it was still incredible.

I stopped at a small (and I mean small!) hot spring on the beach where the water was hot enough to effectively boil in. It was great to sit in a boiling pool of water, loose all the feeling in my limbs and look out at the sky. Unfortunately the big pile of tripods along the shore blocked the view of the ocean.

Today I got to go and poke some sea creatures at the coast near Abashiri -- one of the few places I have seen undisturbed coastline in Japan. I had great fun turning over rocks and looking for critters.

Tomorrow it's back to school. The term is almost over, and not a moment too soon. It's been ridiculously hot in class. Add to this my sleep deprivation of late, and you have me yawning through even my elementary school classes. Well, this weekend I have had a good chance to chill out and relax. And visit the end of the world...

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