Friday, October 19, 2018

A trip to outskirts

On a bright, sunny day in August, this year, we boarded on a small ship capable of carrying 50-55 people, at the seabanks in Tokyo Bay. Our purpose for sailing on this boat was to watch the marine fishes. The ship left the seashore and made its way across the clear, blue waters. In a moderate offing, one of the crew members announced that it was time to watch the fishes. “Travelers on the left, please watch outside the window”, he instructed. We, sitting in a row on seats laid along the windows, followed his instruction and threw our eyes at the fishes. The crew was throwing food for the fishes from the deck of the ship and the fishes gathered near the surface to eat the food. And it was the very time we had to catch them in our sight. After a while, those seated on the right side similarly watch them. They were the same redfish which was displayed on the roof of the hotel managing our sailing, as well as the brochure distributed to us.

 This story is about the annual educational tour that I made recently in a company of the professors and students of Tokyo University of Science. It was a tour of a coastal town, Tateyama, located in Chiba Prefecture at a distance about 3 hours’ drive from the university.  The above event of fish-watching occurred at the place known as Minami-Boso located on the way to our final destination. The town of Tateyama is a place located in the southern belt of Chiba, the Prefecture where I live. When you visit somewhere in Japan, you can see impressive measures taken by tourism entrepreneurs to foster their own business. The businessmen here attract their customers by advertising their saleable items or services in such a way as not to miss even single merit of those items. Of course, they are also careful about maintaining the quality of those items compliable to their own claims.

In course of our journey towards the final destination, after watching fish, we stopped at Kamogawa Sea World for enjoying the activities of the trained animals. At this entertainment venue, located on the seashore, marine animals such as dolphin, whale and sea lion are tamed in their appropriate habitats. These trained animals entertain visitors by performing different actions following the instructions of their masters (the staffs of the Seaworld). The activities such as jump, run, and dive by dolphins either singly or in groups, provide the audience with a glimpse of their intelligence. According to scientists, dolphins have a capacity to understand and respond to certain signals and instructions of the human. Similarly, the killer whale, another important member of the same family, is also an intelligent animal. The stunts of the young men and women with this huge animal seem adventurous. These adventures consist of swimming rapidly by the staff along with the whale, rising high above the surface of water or diving deep into the pool by riding on the whale, and swimming swiftly in front of the whale with the feet held in its mouth. At times, the whale splashes bucketful of water held on its tail towards the audience. For keeping safe from getting splashed, the audiences on the front seats wear a raincoat.  

After spending some time at the Seaworld, we headed towards our final destination for the day, Tateyama. There we spent the night in a coastal resort. The night was spent with a party, a hanabi (fireworks, a popular culture in Japan) and then a rest. One thing I like most about Japanese people is their social living. Japanese people have a hobby of enjoying in groups and whenever they get a free time spared from a busy schedule, they like to gather together and celebrate. 
The next day, at 9 O’clock in the morning, we left the resort with a plan of visiting the Shimizu Kieeyu Park, and particularly, the Nomizono Taki fall in this park. The main features of this fall, as advertised, were the light beam in the shape of a heart and the exit of the fall (a brook, in fact) in the shape of a turtle. To my understanding, the person who welcomed us at the entrance was also emphasizing on the same features; and also, the brochure described them. But, interestingly, no any such feature was obviously (as obvious as demonstrated in the brochure) visible when we reached the spot. Of course, the repeated description by an experienced person would give a feel of resemblance. It was made clear that the “heart-shaped beam” can be seen at a particular time on a sunny day. However, despite the absence of the component described, the walk in the park as a whole was incredible. Maybe, it’s a strategy of the businessmen to lure visitors by advertising some attractive features of their services, and when the visitors actually visit the spot and the promised features are in fact absent, entertaining them by offering other, equally enjoyable activities. While making false claims about services just for attracting customers is a mean idea, I think, a moderate bosting as done by the management of this park is not unusual. After all, it is business, i.e., something in which those speaking out less can hardly sell anything.  

Another attraction during a visit to the rural/ hilly areas of Japan is agrotourism. Every year, whenever I have gone on a trip, I have participated in “fruit picking”. In “fruit picking”, you choose and pick fruits and eat them on the farm. You can also get to buy them for your home at prices cheaper than in the market. In my past visits, the types of fruit being picked, depending on the season and the geography, were either pears, orange, apple or grapes. This year, it was grapes. We collected bunches of grapes hanging from the vines that spread on the arbor, inside a greenhouse. It is a great pass-time for the tourists in Japan. Both farming and tourism flourishing side-by-side; what a great idea?   

  After fruit picking, we moved back to the campus concluding this year’s annual trip. Riding on a bus along seabeds provided me with an opportunity of recalling nostalgic feelings of traveling along riverbanks in my own home country.

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