METHODS OF ISLAND2010.09.10 by Pat Scanlon
Still smarting about my editor JC's most recent and blatant incident, and miffed that the man was in all likelihood toasting ferries in the inland sea again today and with free good wine and enjoying free, excellent food. (readers refer to my blog entitled Shikoku Ferry Services 8/4) I boarded the little red 'Meon' ferry from Takamatsu and short ride for a look at Ogi Island and write the new blog on this lovely place. What a terrific little ferryboat and ferryboat ride this is. Like a little toy ferryboat actually.
In a word, 'hilly'. This beautiful, small island in the Inland Sea not far from Takamatsu is just that; plenty of sharp inclinations. Apart from the foreshore area, there are some pretty steep hills but the good news is the treks are not that long. So what I want to suggest to you as something to observe when here, are the unique methods of transportation some of the islanders use. I spent most of the day lurching from vending machine to vending machine looking for cold drinks. I had some colorful language to say when a couple were out of stock I can tell you.
Long a car hater, bicycle-rider, alternative methods of transportation have fascinated me and one of my first and most endearing sights in Japan was of an elderly couple riding a 3 wheeled bicycle with a flat tray side for carrying goods, a bit like a motorcycle sidecar and probably transportation from an earlier era. The woman, one hand on her hat, pushing the pedals hard; all the while the aged husband was sitting seiza (kneeling position) on the flatbed tray fanning himself unperturbed. Huffing and puffing she was too. If I ever see this again as it's not that uncommon, I hope I can grab a photo and post a picture of it here.
I asked a couple of people but no one could tell me the names of these machines save that they're low-geared, slowish which is fine by me and have two-stroke engines much like my old lawn mower. Some serve as taxis and frankly they look like fun to get about in. Reversing is easy. Just rotate the handle 180 degrees and it can go in the opposite direction. No doubt about it, living here one needs some support mechanical or otherwise. Even a stick is useful.
Bicycles are sometimes used on the island, as are tricycles with shopping baskets usually at the back but as the only ride-able place is the foreshore, most just walk around.
On the Meon ferry I ran into my rival Ashita Sanuki blogger, well treated by editor JC and old and good friend Cathy Hirano which was a surprise. "Oh, hi Cathy. Great to see you"! I lied. Alright, I made that up we were happy to see each other and I suggest that you take a look at her interesting blog as she's going to give you more detailed information about how to get around this island so please do take a look ...
The multi functional 'onba' or stroller is another feature of assisted transportation on this island of mainly elderly people. As the majority of the islands residents are aged so the onba can carry stuff, be used for support whilst walking on unsteady legs and as a bonus, also functions as a seat when taking a break! They're even used for deliveries which must be wonderful for exercise.
The onba has recently been turned into a tongue-in-cheek art icon and we can see some really adventurous creations on the onba theme from the Onba Factory, which is a part of this Seto Art Exhibition. Witty and creative stuff indeed.
At last the heat is slowly waning but if you're heading out to any of these places in the summer even at the end of it, it's wise to cover the body or use a parasol.
This is me hard at it in the broiling sun working for JC and here I am in the last picture. Completely evaporated! Kerpoooof! That's all that was left of the underpaid and intrepid blogger after a day in the sun ...
Keep all those cards, letters and comments coming in and do visit Ogi Island when you have the chance, it's well worth it.