In the city of Kamakura, in Kanagawa Prefecture south of Tokyo I was exiting the Hase Station of the Enoden line when I noticed an odd looking post box almost hidden next to the station. It was one of several Haiku Post boxes, set up by the Haiku Appreciation group of Kamakura around the city of Kamakura, Haiku & Haiku (俳句＆ハイク, a play on words as Haiku means both the poem and the activity of hiking). Haiku are the most famous form of Japanese poetry, and always follow the same pattern of three lines of 5, 7, 5 syllables and should contain a keyword that shows or denotes one of the four seasons. I sometimes write haiku in Japanese while on the trains and subways of Tokyo. It is a good way to pass the time and exercise your brain and I think it is at least as effective as the sudoku number puzzles you see people with all the time.
The Haiku post boxes (there are about 20 of them and there are maps showing their locations but oddly enough not the one in these photos) are used to encourage people to submit their own haiku, either prepared ones or ones they write on the spot, as paper forms are available. I had no idea how popular something like this could be, but according to their homepage these very few haiku post boxes almost hidden away in a small town on the coat of Japan amassed an amazing 2621 poems during the summer of 2014 alone! You can read the best of them at their official site here.
There are rules for writing haiku in English and other languages as well, but I have never tried. Have you written one? Please share!
The last of August, a Sunday, I was in the city of Kamakura south of Tokyo and went down to the Pacific Ocean beach Yuigahama to enjoy the last of the August sun. It was just as beautiful as always. Although Kamakura is one of the biggest tourist attractions of Japan the beach and the area around it not very developed, and there are still some areas that have not changed a bit since after the War. Even on crowded days the beach is not that crowded really, and it is long enough that it is easy to just walk a little bit further and get a bit more space for yourself. In the summer there are life guards working some days, and special beach bars set up just for the season, serving food, drinks and even hosting club events.
Walking along the Yuigahama beach in Kamakura City on the edge of the Pacific Ocean I saw this couple having fun with some sparklers. It looked fun and romantic. Fireworks are very popular in Japan and an integral part of Japanese culture. Unfortunately there are very few places for people to enjoy them safely in the crowded cities of Japan. But the beach will always do nicely.
Since for the last few days at Yuigahama, the famous Pacific Ocean beach just on the edge of Kamakura city to the south west of Tokyo, there’s been a rather unusual algal bloom, a phenomena known as akashio (赤潮) in Japan and often called “red tide” in English. It is a natural occurring phenomena when concentrations in plankton grow rapidly and has nothing to do with tide nor is it often very red. Sometimes these algal blooms are associated with a kind of plankton that can glow with a bluish light in the dark but there hasn’t been any reported bioluminescence so far this time at Yuigahama, although I have heard that there were some two nights ago in Enoshima, further down the coast to the west of Kamakura but I am not sure how correct those observations were. If you live in the area, tonight might be the best night of the year for a midnight walk along the beach!
I was a little disappointed with bloom, as it looks a little bit and could be poisonous I was in no mood for swimming so instead I decided to head as far as possible to the east along the beach. I got quite far when another very interesting natural phenomena occured, a kaimu, or ocean mist. For a few minutes there were white wisps of smoke blowing in over the water, as if there were many small fires further out in the ocean. The sun was still blazing though, but in a few minutes a thick wall of mist rolled in from the ocean, completely obscuring the sun and turning midday into early evening in a few minutes. It reminded me of the solar eclipse we had a couple of years ago. Visibility was very bad in mist and the water level rose very quickly, which sent quite a few beach goers scrambling to get their stuff out of the rising water. The silence was also erie, sounds being muffled and nothing much being visible. Quite an experience! The mist last about an hour but even as it passed it left a strangely muted sky much of it remained until nightfall, all over the city of Kamakura.
All in all, it was an interesting day at the beach. I tried to look out for dead marine life but didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, the odd dried up blowfish or carp. As I always do, I also gathered a full plastic bag of plastic garbage that had drifted in from the ocean or been blown out on the beach by careless beach goers. If everyone picked just one piece of garbage every time they visited a beach the world would be a cleaner place in no time!