I was very fortunate to be able to visit my sister for a couple of summer weeks when she was living in Japan. Although she had work and studying to do most days, she took some time to take me sightseeing in the Kanto region (which includes both Gunma, the prefecture in which she lived, and Tokyo, the capital of Japan). One of the highlights was our visit to Kamakura. This city was once the capital of Japan and is well known for being the home of one of Japan’s National Treasures, the Kōtoku-in Temple Daibutsu, or giant Buddha bronze statue. It also has beaches within easy walking distance from the train station and temples (my sister and I did most of our non-train travel on foot).
Yuigahama Beach and Zaimokuza Beach are on the same small stretch of coast on the Sagami Bay. The two are separated only by a river outlet that I don’t remember crossing.
The first Japanese beach sighting for me was from the Meigetsuin Temple, famous for its lovely hydrangeas.
After touring the Starbucks, temples, and shops selling Hello Kitty cell phone dangles, we made our way down to the beach with some plums we brought at a produce stand (this begins a story for another day), enjoyed some Tully’s coffee from the shop located right on the sandy beach, and dipped our toes into the water. On the wet sand we found some shells, shell fragments, and small pieces of ocean-tumbled china. These were all fun little treasures that we thought would be worth bringing home.
While we were combing the beach, a very nice middle aged Japanese couple approached us to chat (they had a son studying in America). While we were conversing, the wife asked to see what we had picked up off of the beach. I opened my hand to show her, and she started picking through, throwing back the broken ones and my other bits of who-knows-what. My goodness, I had to think she didn’t think I knew what was worth keeping and what wasn’t. I was trying to subtly keep my eyes on where she was chucking things so I could try and pick them up again later.
Don’t worry- shell pieces aren’t too difficult to find on this beach. It wouldn’t take too long to pick up enough different shapes and colors to make a nice display of some sort.
The nice lady on the beach wasn’t the only person to think that what we found on the beach wasn’t treasure-worthy. My sister’s okaa-san (Japanese mom) didn’t understand why we would pick up broken bits and pieces off of the beach, either! Anyway, in spite of the adversity, we did get away with some nice shells, bits, and bobs.
Editor’s Note by E.G.D. : Okaa-san, once we explained that our shell finds were intended for decorative purposes, used the shells we gave her to decorate a bathroom counter, and to my knowledge, they’re still there today.