Call me old fashioned, but smart phones and a GPS are not yet my thing when wandering around new places. With a good sense of direction as well as being confident at knowing which way is north, I am never that concerned about being ‘a little bit lost’ in Japan.
I do go a bit hard on myself for not reading the map properly, mixing up east and west, or missing that apparently well signposted turn (obscure to the visitor, but obvious to the local).
But it can add to the excitement. Like some TV survival game, just how long can I hold out before seeking help for my partial lostness?
I got oddly nearly lost this June in Masuda, on the west side of Shimane Prefecture. With a few hours to kill before my next train, I hired a bike from the local Information Centre. Always a good thing. Take in a few of the local sites instead of sitting on a station platform.
Map in hand I headed off to make my way the 2 kilometres to the Sea of Japan. I could smell the sea. I had a vision of resting at the beach, staring out across the blue expanse.
After about 45 minutes of riding I still could not find the sea! How hard is it? It stretches over to China and Russia! After the tenth time of consulting the map, even orienting it to the main road signs – I realised the map was ‘schematic’ only, so taking the second turn left about 50 metres from the Information Centre, actually meant take the turn left one kilometre up the road.
Then logic brain kicked in. Ride along the riverside paths – the sea must be reached some time. Was this part of the river tidal? Was the tide coming in or out? More pondering.
By the time I got to the seaside, about an 80 minutes had passed. It was already time to ride back again to meet the train. The only thing I got to do at the beach was to laugh at myself!
The return trip zipped by with the electric assist bike. Move over folks. Get out of my way. Overtaking walkers, joggers, riders and old women in those tiny vans that squeeze through barriers to use the river levee banks as short cuts.
Calmly return the bike. How was your ride, sir? I had a wonderful time at the sea thank you very much.