How to Holiday in a Typhoon

So, as my Twitter followers will already know, and for that matter anyone who follows the hashtag #FuckYouTyphoon, I had a nice holiday during a typhoon period. Just to be clear, I had booked the holiday way in advance, before I knew the typhoon was coming, though I would understand if some of you thought I chose to go out in it. I just didn’t want to waste my money; here in Japan you are expected to go to work in a typhoon and you are expected to show up for reservations unless it is physically impossible to keep them – even then they will still argue that you owe them the money.

With that in mind, I travelled with my roommate. We drove up to one of the three most beautiful spots in Japan, Amano Hashidate, which has a famous spit of land with, most importantly, plenty of beaches.

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How much sun we would get we didn’t know but we played beach tunes on the way there. That’s a concept for her that involves K-Pop and for me involves big beat and reggae, but it’s her car, so guess what happened? “Gee, Gee, Gee, Baby Baby” When we arrived it was raining steadily, but not heavily, and we made it to the traditional inn we had booked only a little damp. The owner advised us that since we didn’t arrange to have a dinner with them we should hurry up and buy something quickly as everywhere would probably close soon, due to the storm. Little did we know, but a short walk revealed that “everywhere” was a ramen restaurant and a small convenience store that sold 50% less than your average convenience store. Grumpy and now more than damp, we bought a few scraps of lunches and then wandered around the closest parts of town – again, this turned out to be the whole town.

By the “main” road there was a turn off that led to a temple. Most temples in Japan are the same; big wooden structures with a place to chuck your coins and ring a bell, and a place to hang a good wish for the future, but this one also had a cat that I almost tripped over. Instead, I took a photo of it.

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We walked around there, pausing, glad for the shelter from the rain, then up a series of small bridges leading to a forested island, and the spit where the beaches reside. We had a quick look, hastily deciding the wind and rain were too strong to be comfortable, so we turned back. We had bought a dinner and had seen the lay of the land. We felt like that was enough until the storm blew over.

On returning, the hotel had laid out our futons in the room. There was also an onsen (hot spring bath) in the building, steaming and ready to go. After the continuous stream of cold rain on our bodies we needed warmth. I should also point out that onsen are places of complete nakedness, and we went in together; me, pleased for the view of the turbulent waves out the window and everything inside. The bath was large rectangular pool of crystal clear water and must have been at least 40 degrees. Neither of us stayed for long. The bath warmed us beautifully, I soon glowed with heat, but I didn’t want to get dizzy. We then found a massage chair in the lounge and took turns as the machine poked us and rubbed us through our yukata (traditional thin, cloth gowns). My feet tingled and ached the most and she giggled at me yelping when the knobs and pads hit those spots, so I teased her when it was her turn. It was fun after the daily routine of how we hang out at home, seeing each other in the same situation again and again. This was fresh.

Warmed and prodded, we were ready for the evening. We found a beer vending machine in the hallway and there was much rejoicing, while trying to forget that we might have to stay in the hotel our entire holiday. We went back to our rooms, laughing like idiots without even having consumed the beer yet, then settled down with our meagre dinners and drinks. We sat and talked, played with apps, shared photos and watched the rain pour down in our brightly lit garden for the night.

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Rain doesn’t show up well
Later, with a zip, the TV we had used for background noise turned off and the lights dimmed to let the darkness creep in. My roommate grabbed my sleeves, searching for my hands. “What’s happening?” The drum of rain seemed all around us. I said I’d check it out and went to the office. It was the power out because of the typhoon, the manager told me, he’d try to get it back on quickly, they had a generator in the back. I returned laughing at out apparent bad luck. Safe and warm, and fuzzy with alcohol, it seemed funny now. I told my roommate and she panicked a bit, but soon laughed too. We drank more and talked to distract each other, still watching the rain, finding the whole change of pace even more refreshing, regardless, and soon we shared one of the large wicker seats to save time of leaning over and showing each other something on our phones or sharing food. 

In the morning we had a breakfast of rice, fish, spinach, spiced vegetables, tofu and miso which I neglected to take a photo of; I’m not a professional instagrammer. The rain didn’t stop before 10am, check out time, so we had to leave in a light shower. We didn’t mind. We walked, almost skipped into town, and looked for the mountain viewing platform. The weather said it would be clear soon, so we took a risk. The rain fell harder until we got there. On arriving we took the monorail to the top anyway and do you know what good luck is? That’s getting to the top of the mountain and the rain stopping. Bonus point: no one else, save a couple, were up there. Normally such a tourist spot would be packed. We took photos, walked around the platforms, even had a ride on the child’s merry-go-round because we could. Everything was good.

We stayed for lunch, on the mountain, in a restaurant there, and had curry and rice, then went back down and, finally, to the beach. The sun was glorious by this point. The beach was quite small but long, so we could have a small section to ourselves, separate from the other tourists who had crawled out of the woods to take advantage of the sun – seriously, where were they all a few hours ago? We were at the only hotel in the town and had only seen a couple with their teenage boy and another with a young boy.

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At this point, with ice creams and sunshine, we reflected on the ‘weekend’, coming to the conclusion that we had done much better than if the weather had just been nice all the time. We had rested on the beach, been everywhere interesting in town and in between (the bridge, the temple, the shopping street) and been up the mountain. Plus we had the bonus of enjoying the real benefit of the onsen, warming ourselves from the rain, watching the storm from the safety of the inside, and each other.

So, I guess I’m saying don’t complain in a bad situation, it may be bringing unseen happiness. I wouldn’t change anything about these two days.

Have you ever had a seemingly bad situation turn out better than you expected? Let me know, and let’s share some good stories. 

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