Warm water under a red bridge

March 10, 2007


Warm water under a red bridge is the title of a Japanese movie by Shohei Imamura that is sexually weird, allegorical and fascinating. It is also my first kayaking trip of 2007.

As it was my first trip I decided to stay in the bay with the protection of almost flat calm water. The water was surprisingly warm though (about 10-12degrees I guessed) although the air temperature was only about 4 or 5 brrrr. There was a light wind, 8-10kmph, and although my kayak does okay in medium winds in a light wind it weathercocks so I spent a lot of my time edging and paddling on one side trying to go in a straight line. The photos that follow show some the aspects of Matsushima bay.


A row of small fishing boats, moored against bamboo poles, with huge outboard motors (smallest in the row was 75hp). I recently saw an exhibition of photographs from the bay 30 years ago and it was so different – all wooden boats, hardly any concrete. It made me realise that the uglification of Japan didn’t happen, it is happening now. More on this another time.


It was a very low tide which expose dthe fact that, outside of the dredged routes for the sighteseeing boats you could just about walk across some parts of the bay at low tide. Above the oyster farms.


And here stacks of unused scallop shells which are waiting to be seeded and farmed.


There are hundreds of these shellfish beds some in quite interesting states of repair.


This is a panoramic of three pictures stitched together using autostitch (highly recomended program). Autostitch is all the more impressive when you consider that I was floating (no tripod) and that there was at least 3secs between each picture (my mobilephone camera…)


Anyway the pictures was to show the cocklers, 14 of them in a row all over 60 years old (but that’s too much detail for the internet). What will happen to activities like this when this generation passes? There are so many things like this in Japan that are only done by the over 60’s.

Although Matsushima is famous for the shellfish most peeople come for the view around the bay. It is one of Japan’s Three most scenic places

the wave

with crazy rock formations like this one Yoroi-Jima (also known as the wave)


from the front.

sightseeing boats

The bay is busy with sightseeing boats running every 30 minutes around the bay (which makes for a slightly hairy crossing near the harbour).

weird rocks

There are some very beautiful rock formations


wave shapes and undercuts


I particularly like the tide colours.

Matsushima 松島 means “pine island” and most of these islands have pine trees hanging on top, often in quite extreme locations.


This one (attached to land by the red bridge) also contains a shrine.


On the way back I stopped by the sailing club. The building in the background was designed by Hitoshi Abe a famous, locally based and in my opinion brilliant architect (though this bulding is not his best).

kayak covers

This is the stack of kayaks of the local kayak club (don’t you want one of those kayak covers?). I had attempted to contact them, so I could use their kayaks and get involved with the club, but after nosing around for a few weeks gave up. But today I met the main guy and his sidekick – they had “buzzed me” in a fishing boat earlier and when I landed they came to say hello. Old guys and very friendly, I just about understood them… They invited me to go kayaking with them sometime and I got their business card. Afterwards I felt a bit bad that I wasn’t more respectful (more bowing was required from me) but I was tired and trying to drink my hot chocolate. They gave me some Wakame – a kind of seaweed – that they had been out collecting. My wife cooked it up (boiled) later – oishii!


This on my way home at 4.30, the dragon boat with a couple of smaller boats behind marking the busy channel that I had to cross.


A scaffolding tower in the sea, not sure of its function.

march 10
My route.

(Location map at various scales and zoomable yahoo map)


2 Responses to “Warm water under a red bridge”

  1. leanne Says:

    Those sure are interesting looking rocks. crazy stuff! Also the map is nice although I wish I could see it in more detail (as I’m not familiar with the area). Also what is a cockeller?
    leanne (in Amakusa)

  2. leanne
    Cocklers (sorry bad spelling – I’ve changed) are people who collect cockles, a kind of shellfish. I’ve changed the spelling and linked to a wikipedia story about a tragedy in Northern England in 2005 where 17 coklers were drowned by rising tides. I’ll also change the map whch isn’t very good.
    Looks like you guys have been doing some nice trips!

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