Sunday, May 16, 2010

Two Turtle Rocks

Futatsugame. This is the name of these two rocky protuberances off the coast of Sado Island. Do you think they look like turtles? The last day of our trip, we drove up to the island's northern tip to take a gander at them. Thanks to the Japanese Government's hyperactive civil engineers, there is a mostly two-lane (depending on your definition of "two") road ringing the s-shaped island as well as on the flat bit connecting Sado's semi-mountainous lobes. Thanks to our trusty Harrier, we traversed most of them.

Compared to Honshu, Sado is less developed. There are many small hamlets (don't blink) along the coast as well as a few bona fide towns. The main attractions for us were the island's rustic temples and shrines (we visited many) and its natural scenery -- snow-capped mountains, sea coasts and sakura still in bloom. Most of the development is concentrated in the southern lobe where the ground is somewhat more hospitable and the water more accessible. Because of its rugged topography and steep cliffs, the northern lobe is far less populated. Here the distant views are unspoiled but the beaches are littered with trash and detritus. Most of it probably washes up with the tide. I wish someone would pick it up.

Despite my injured foot (I did not find out about the torn ligaments and tiny fracture until after we returned to Tokyo), we hiked along the coast for a stretch. This gave us the chance to admire the amphibious outcroppings from multiple angles. Our journey culminated at a temple (I think) sequestered in a cave looking out to sea.

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