Not two weeks of being in Japan, and the exploratory bug bit us. Hard. We were too anxious to see everything.
First stop: Shirahama Beach
In Korea, it took us flying out of the mainland to see a decent beach. But here, just a scenic mountain drive away is a gorgeous beach with crystal clear and swimmable water. Japanese beach culture is very comparable to Cali. People seem much more laid-back, surfers focused on catching that wave, and the women wore actual bikinis. (This is a really big deal, considering women in Korea wear T-shirts and women in China wear creepy face/bodysuits at the beach.)
We swam, we played, we snacked on surprisingly delicious fast food from 7-Eleven, and soaked in the exuberant Japanese summer sun.
That evening, we found a secluded ryokan (Japanese inn) in the hills. We experienced our first tatami room, public bath house, and a private river in the inn’s backyard. Everything was charming and novel. I was leery of the public bath at first, but I took my place by the window and saw the halcyon of Japan’s simple past. I traveled back in time for a short while, and it was beautiful.