Suma Beach. Picture taken by Ritsuko; that explains the presence of that odd-looking foreign fellow. It's fairly empty now, but during Golden Week this place will look like an upturned anthill, if the ants were all pink and red and drinking beer.
Anyway, Suma has a pretty good beach within easy day-trip distance from Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto. The trains actually stop just by the beach - you can step off the JR train station exit right onto the sand. This weekend was the perfect time to go. It's still early summer so it's not offensively hot, and the big Golden Week holiday is still a couple of weeks off. As a result the area was almost empty in stretches and the cool breeze made it a pleasure to walk along the beach from Suma to nearby Suma no Koen (yes, we really do enjoy long walks on the beach. And romantic dinners - not that there's anything wrong with that). This is a really pleasant day-trip if you live in Osaka or thereabouts.
Not everybody enjoys a day at the beach. This guy would probably feel rather more at ease in a dark, dingy diner than out here with all the unhealthy sun and fresh air. And yes, it seemed the woman in the background is his wife.
At Suma no Koen there's a fishing park. It's a set of long steel piers for amateur fishermen. We first went there two years ago. It's a nice setup; you pay an entrance fee and get to fish from the piers. If you need it, they'll sell you fishing gear, bait and even live fish if you're out of luck but still need something for dinner, and they can help you clean your catch too if you want. There's a squat, round tower near the center with a good sea view where you can get out of the sun and get something to eat and drink. The entrance fee is really low if you don't want to fish - and frankly, we've never felt the urge. It's way easier to buy fish cleaned out and ready at the local fishmonger than trying to catch it ourselves.
Fishing is quality time. Of course, photographing other people fishing is even better: same view, same fresh air, but no need to mess with rods, lines or hooks, or clean out your catch afterwards. Akashi and Akashi Kaikyō Ōhashi in the distance.
The fishing park is very pleasant to visit even if you don't fish. Great scenery, fresh sea breezes and plenty of interesting people milling about.
From Suma it's a fairly short train ride onward to Akashi, and you pass the Akashi Kaikyō Ōhashi bridge - one of the longest in the world, apparently - to Awaji on the way. Akashi's claim to fame is the bridge and the 135th meridian which passes through the city; it's the basis for Japan Standard Time, and there's an observatory sitting right on the meridian. We only spent an hour or so in the city; enough time to pick up some food from the local fish market, but not enough to visit the observatory.
The coast is rugged, so the train lines often hug the beach, making for some good views as you travel. Here is the JR line with the Akashi straight and the bridge in the background.
The Akashi market is good; not huge, but with a lot of fresh, good quality food. Very, very fresh - this octopus is fresh enough to make a determined break for freedom. The shop assistant had to stop it and put it back on the tray three times while I was watching. You know, put a kilt on it and it does look a bit like an aging Mel Gibson.
On the way back we had dinner at Raja, our favorite Indian restaurant in Kobe. Good as always. The owner, by the way, is one of those people who are indecisive about their facial hair; he's going through a mustache period at the moment. Normally we'd walk for a bit after dinner but as we'd done nothing but walk all day we called it a day and went home.