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.
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!
A mere hour on train from inner city Tokyo (population 12.5 million) is the wonderful Yuigahama beach. It always amazes me that there can be such a beach so close to such a huge city without it being absolutely packed every day, all day. Where I come from we have a lazy miniature river flowing through the city and it’s lined with people and dogs and kids just looking at the water. When it’s not covered in ice that is. I took these photos of a nearly deserted Yuigahama beach yesterday, a public holiday. I wonder what everyone was doing? There’s several ways to get here from Tokyo, but most of them involves the Yokosuka line or the Tokaido line and then a bus, taxi or good walking shoes. Or you can rent a bicycle near by Kamakura station. The beach is cleaned regularly during the season but there’s still a bit of garbage lying around so I usually bring a bag and just pick stuff off the beach as I go along. If everyone picked half a kilo of garbage off the beach it would be spotless within a couple of days!