Rain hammering onto the roof of my tent woke me several times in the night. No other campers were on the site. I cowered alone under blue North Face sheets. At 4am, a woman`s voice crackled out over the cliffs; it was the tannoy system warning of dosha saigai, landslide disasters. She could have been broadcasting the end of the world – I just wished she would choose a more reasonable time to do it.
In the morning, I took the shore-hugging Gono Line train to Senjojiki (lit. 1000 laid out tatami mats), a giant rug of grey rock stretching out from two seafood restaurants on the shoreline. Senjojiki`s unusual flat appearance came from a 1792 earthquake which raised the grey rock shelf above the sealine. Then the Lord of Tsugaru came to admire the new view, hosting a banquet using 1000 mats.
In drizzle and in between downpours I trampled in heavy Timberland shoes all over the 1000 mats. Waves rushed up narrow ravines splashing and spitting out unpredictably. I jumped to avoid the seawater while kids rushed towards it.
On the outdoor concrete dining area of one of the restaurants, I had a warm, nourishing bowl of locally harvested mozuku-seaweed soup; then watched 3 generations of one family eating local sazae, turban shells, grandma teaching grandsons how to ease snail out of shells with a toothpick. I like local food; but only when it`s nice. Turban shells sadly are not nice.
Collapsing hillsides halted the Gono-sen in the afternoon. Nobody knew when the next train was due. I had to wait in the rain on the exposed station platform and hope for a tannoy announcement. Or I could lay about and watch the incoming busloads of tourists toothpick turban shells. I lay about.
Eventually, one of the chefs, a Bill Bailey lookalike, came out and told me about something called the BUS, first giving me the earnest warning that this BUS thing was a) infrequent b) expensive, and c) might not even stop if I was waiting at the right bus stop. “But…………it will get you to the next town,” he added triumphantly.
Local transport at the speed of a turban shell can be just as much fun as the local food.