In Japan, people work hard and play hard. Since, vacations are usually limited to just two or three days, bus tour packages are very popular. Usually bus tours take people to many places and pack-in as much as possible. It’s inexpensive and everything is planned out for you. It’s a very appealing option especially with so little time for vacation.
Julian and Yumi put together a group tour to Wakayama to visit Urashima Onsen (hot spring). They reserved an entire bus and tour for two days and one night just for our 40 friends. Wakayama is the peninsula below Osaka. It’s famous for having wonderful onsens, beaches, mountains, the tallest waterfall in Japan, Japanese plums, and beautiful rural areas. Many places in Wakayama are not accessible without a car, so the bus tour made it easier for us to see a lot of places.
We met at the bus station early in the morning. Prior to the trip, Julian had to select a name for our group. Written on our bus kiosk was “だいこんファイト!" - "Daikon Fighto”. A daikon is a Japanese radish and fight-o, well that’s an English word that we often hear our Japanese friends and students yelling when they are playing sports or trying to overcome some sort of obstacle - “fighto, fighto”.
There is a story behind the fighting daikon. It’s not just some random words that Julian made up. In the little city of Aioi, which is about 20 minutes west of Himeji, there was a little baby daikon that was only a seedling. The daikon couldn’t grow, but it kept fighting to grow...fighto, fighto! Finally the daikon came up through a crack in the pavement. It fought hard and it survived! It didn’t give up! It’s an inspirational daikon. Well, that’s how our name for our tour group came to be, because our trip was about fighting to have a good vacation. If you ever visit Aioi, you will see a daikon character around city hall and other places. It’s now a symbol of their city. It also set the tone for a fun and awesome trip!
Back to our trip...our first stop was Shirasaki Ocean Park, which had beautiful white rocks and ocean views.
Next stop Shirahama and their beautiful cliff side views and a famous spot for suicide. The sign says that if you are considering jumping, please call this hot-line.
Everything had turtles on it, including our yukatas (cotton kimonos).