The Sea in San-in Return to Intro
The National Highway 9 goes through San-in area along the
Japan Sea. You cannot speed here, since there is only one lane for
each direction, and the width of the lane is minimal. There are
also rather sharp curves. Fortunately, the traffic is not heavy.
There are almost no jams, except for the center area of big cities.
There are bypaths, for the most part, to avoid entering into the
center of big cities. It is a highway for you to relax and drive
slowly, enjoying the Japan Sea. Now and then you hit upon a service
area which they call eA Station on the Routef. There you enjoy
seeing the Sea, eating fresh sea-food, hearing the sound of waves.
In the summer, you pass through a few swimming beaches. One of them
is Koto-ga-hama (Harp Shore).
The name koto (a harp-like music instrument) comes from the sand which
gives a sound when stepped upon. Scientifically speaking, it has something
to do with the content of silicone dioxide in the sand. But it is none
of our concern now. There are several such places in Japan, mostly in the
side facing the Japan Sea.
Concerning this Koto-ga-hama, there is a rather sad legend.
Towards the end of the 12-th century, there was a big fight between
Genji and Heike. Genji warriors were mainly from the east part of
Japan, which was thought to be a wild place in those days. Heike
warriors, on the other hand, were from the west part which was a
cultural area and belonged to an upper class. Wives and daughters
of Heike people were very sophisticated in culture and beautiful.
The haughty Heike clan which had been the ruler was miserably
defeated. Families of Heike clan fled into the interior of the
mountains or into rural places to hide themselves. A beautiful
princess of Heike fled alone into this small fishing village.
She was very tired and ill when she arrived at the place. People
of the village had pity on her and took good care of her. She
gradually became well, and to show her gratitude toward the village
people, she played the koto. The sound was so pitiful and beautiful
that people wept and liked the princess the more. After some time,
however, she suddenly died. The village people were very sad, but
they found, to their joy, that the sand in the beach started to
give the sound of koto when they walked on it. That is why this
shore is called Koto-ga-hama. Also, the special fireflies named
after Heike Family, Heike-botal, started to be seen around the
beach. If you like, you may park your car here and walk on the
beach to hear the koto played by the princess or swim in the sea.
This story, although sad, has something warm
in it. People
in San-in, they themselves being in the back side of Japan where
the sun shines little, traditionally has sympathy toward the weak.
They traditionally hate conflict.
If you want to know more about the sand dynamics
you should visit the Sand Museum nearby. I will separately write
about it later. Therefore I am not going into detail, but the Museum
shows you many aspects of sand dynamics. For those who are interested
in fluid dynamics, the dynamical formation of a sand hill shown in the
form of mobile art may be interesting.
Mobile art of sand
For those who are interested in geology, a sample exhibition of
sand and soil may be interesting.
For those who are interested in system engineering, the know-how of
driving the largest sandglass in the world which runs exactly for one
year as accurately as possible may be fascinating. (The temperatures
at the upper part of the sandglass and that at the lower part are
computer controlled in order to control the pressure difference,
which would make a difference in the flow of the sand.)
Swimming in the beach
Some of the sea beaches along the Route 9
are among the best
to swim in Japan. The sea is amazingly clean, emerald green. The
beach is wide, both along and perpendicularly to the wave front.
The sand is small in grain. The best part; no pollution. Another
best part; not crowded. In the shore they sell fresh sea foods;
grilled cuttlefish, turban shells boiled in their own shells, grilled
octopus, and so on. Swim in the sea, drink a can of beer with some
of the sea food, looking at the wide, wide sea, and you will forget
every trifle. The notion that the sea spreads everywhere on the
earth fostered the aspiration of the young-stars in this rural
(far from the center of Japan) area when they watched the wide, wide Sea.