Friday, April 28, 2006

The Beautiful South

"I must come down south more often."
I say that every time I visit Southern Fukui, but I still hardly ever visit the south. For one thing it's a fair old journey to get down there - it takes a good couple of hours to get down to Obama, even using the expressway, so it's not somewhere you can exactly pop down to visit. It's a shame really, since there's some great people down there and I hardly ever get to see them.
In many ways it's almost a different prefecture from Northern Fukui: in fact, historically the south of Fukui (Reinan) was an entirely different province from the north. The south was known as " Wakasa", whilst the north of Fukui was a province known as "Echizen". There's also a dividing line of Japanese dialects - people in northern Fukui tend to speak Fukui-ben, whilst people in the south often speak Kansai-ben. In many ways the south is closer to Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, etc.) than it is to the north, in a physical sense as well as a psychological sense: it takes just as long by train to get to Kyoto from Obama as it does to get to Fukui city.
The biggest difference though has to be in the landscape. Northern Fukui is largely made up of an enormous flat river basin, packed with buildings and rice fields, but the terrain down south is far more rugged and sparsely populated. It's generally a lot more mountainous too: the only relatively flat land tends to be in places along the coastline. The coastline itself is also notably different: whereas the north coast is mostly made up of bare cliffs, the south is a series of bays and sandy beaches.
On Sunday, as we recovered from the post-rally party, a group of us took a wander along the coast near Obama. We met up with Amber, who took us to a hill overlooking the city, and once we'd battled up to the summit (the hangovers were really kicking in by this point) the view was amazing. Amber told us of the beach nearby where she goes surfing three times a week, and I thought about how much more chilled-out the atmosphere is in the south. I'd forgotten how beautiful it is too.
"I really must come down south more often", I thought.


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