25 May 2014
Banshu-Ako was not one of the cities originally on our list of places to visit, but one of our favorite places we visited. The city provided a laid back charm, friendly atmosphere, sea views, and a lot of fun. Whenever I talk about going back to Japan, this is the place I want to spend more time.
Waking up to the sound of children playing and parents packing their tents away was very different from the previous sounds we had awoke to. We ended up starting our breakfast with a freshly purchased cappuccino from the vending machine and watched all the campers methodically packing their things into their cars to be gone by 11 am (the campgrounds check out time). It felt like we were watching little worker ants. We had decided that the Ako Seaside Campground and Banshu-Ako area were really nice, so we paid for another night (costing us about 6,000 yen).
They then informed us that we could borrow their bicycles to go into town for free. We of course took them up on it and rode to the nearest super market to purchase some food for brunch, lunch & dinner.
We got some yummy tiny oreo type cookies and milk. We were both craving milk. Then rode back towards our campground and the beach. Sitting there in the sun we noticed that they were all working at digging something up. It looked interesting and possibly fun, so we purchased a yellow mesh bag and went digging. Ours became half filled with about 60-70 small clams, that we brought back to the campground. One of the maintenance men dumped them into a little bucket rinsed them all off and checked them to make sure they were good to eat. They then poured the clams into another bucket with room-temp water to sit so that they would spit out all their sand to make them better to eat for dinner.
Cultural Exchange – Gift presentation
While we waited for our dinner we charged some of our electronics, rested, and watched TV. It soon dawned on us that we hadn’t purchased any food for breakfast. We asked if we could borrow the bikes again to go to the super market again. They obliged us, and off we went.
Both mom and I felt that we should treat them for all their help. We thought that sharing some ice cream would be good, but not remembering their gift customs of presentation, we opened the boxes to take one out for each of us and gave them the remainder. You could just see the confusion growing on their faces. We went from super happy that we did something nice to extreme worry as we began to think that we may have insulted them. We ended up walking back into the main building to make sure that we hadn’t TOTALLY messed up and to collect mom’s charged phone. “Phew” that’s a relief they are eating the ice cream. Hopefully they figured out that we just did a peculiar American gift giving. Next time we will give a whole box and/or maybe one of their nicely decorated ones.
Ashlynn checked on the clams periodically and watched them shoot water and sand out a couple of inches into the air, it became apparent why they placed a cardboard box on top. (Or they may have soon ran out of water to spit). We gathered them up, did one final rinse and moved our ingredients to the outdoor kitchen area. They had loaned us a frying pan to saute the clams in. So we cut up cabbage and carrots and water and brought to a boil…in went the clams! We then pulled all the clams out of their shells and into the ramen noodle box it all went!
The extra saltyness was nice…a bit of sand was not… 🙁 But a great experience and nice to try something so different on a whim. After dinner we were down for the count once again, but this time all we needed to do was crawl back into our hammocks as they were still set-up at our Banshu-Ako campground.