Dec 30 – Haha-jima (小笠原諸島 母島)

Soon after my last day of work I ventured off to my 忘年会 (Bonenkai – End of year work party) with my whole department. Wasn’t really in the mood to do a do with my colleagues but what can you do? Last years gathering felt a bit stiff, and I really wasn’t in the mood for another tight lipped, tight arsed gathering. Sooo many customs and drunken Japanese office men to deal with. . I was more there for the food than anything else, but I could clearly see it in the office workers eyes that they were all about the drink. Drunken Japanese men, how exciting, and all the freak’n smoking. One thing I can’t stand, or ever understand is the need to smoke heaps in such a confined space. Puff puff puff…

In anycase, I made my quick exit and prepped myself for a nice long overnight bus ride to Tokyo and a 25.5 hour ferry ride over semi-rough seas (a typhoon went by a couple of days ago) to Chichi-jima and another 2 hours of fun ferry riding over to Haha-jima. The ferry ride itself was pretty miserable for me… The rocking back and forth and I was pretty much seasick. Never quite had to throw up, though I can pretty much assure you that I was pretty blue in the face. During the entire ride from Sanjo to Haha-jima I pretty much had only a cup of yoghurt and an apple. Anything else, I simply felt very bloated or too sick to keep down. Let’s just say that it wasn’t a very easy 25.5 hour ferry ride for me at all. Just when I thought that I was good enough to get up, a few minutes later it was another quick trek over to the loo to check to see if I can hold whatever I had left in my stomach. The 2nd class berth was totally full, and I was blow away with the fact that there weren’t seat available for the passengers. Well, I’m lying a bit. There are seats, but just less than a dozen for close to a thousand people. Plenty of people heading down south during the New Years Eve break, and I got to join in the fun. At times I wanted fresh air, but anywhere out of the berth, the place was full of smokers and smoke. So bad that at times so that I was wondering if they were testing a new way of preserving smoked meat. I will never be able to understand the whole smoking culture here in Japan.

According to the ferry captain, accommodation on Haha-jima was all booked up. I was a bit worried since I made my booking waaay back in October. Well, once on Haha-jima I made my way over to the youth hostel where things seemed to be quite mellow. A preview of what the seems to be like. Downtown Haha-jima is pretty much two small shops and the police box. Nothing much, but the whole village seemed to be there, well at least much of the ferry passengers. People were lined up around the entire shop to buy their groceries, and the fresh shipment which just came off the ferry. I guess that you can be quite limited with your choice of groceries when the ferry from Tokyo only gets down to Ogasawara Islands once a week.

Even after an hour on the island, I could tell that I was gonna enjoy my time relaxing here on the island. Plans to go hiking on the 31st, enjoy some of the New Years festivities on the 1st and may be go diving on the 2nd. Since at the moment I don’t feel as though I’m 100 percent because of the ferry ride. Also being trapped in a very small space with heaps of people, and a few people coughing away for 25+ hours didn’t quite help with things as well. Anyways, time to enjoy my time off… had a great meal at a local restaurant (which looked more like home, but the inside was pretty much like a snack bar) and I sure hope that this feeling of swaying goes away. It’s been hours since I got off the ferry, but my body still seems to be swaying a bit and carrying around a headache. Well, anyways… I’ll do my best to enjoy my time here.