“I wasn’t sure exactly why I did that,” exclaims Katrina Parry on her mid-morning dip into the sea just to the south-west of Tokyo. “I knew it wasn’t a patch on my hometown beach back in South Australia, but I’m glad I now have a definitive marker for the bottom end of my swimming experiences.”
Parry was speaking after spending twenty minutes in the water dodging plastic wrappers, cigarette stubs, and a variety of miscellaneous refuse. The culture-shock continued back on the beach, however, where she found herself in the company of day-drinking smokers seemingly do their darndest to turn the beach into an inner-city slum.
“I try to explore all parts of the places where I live, so I considered a swim here part of living in Tokyo,” she said while being ogled by an inebriated part-time construction worker, “I think twenty minutes of a definitely never to be repeated experience is quite enough though.”
Gently, but firmly, telling American military types to leave her alone as she hurriedly towels herself off, Parry observes that the beach is a hive of activity. “It’s great that young people are free to come down here and relax in nature. They need a chance to break away from the concrete jungle, although they do a good job of turning this beach into a jungle, one that has become overwhelmed by humankind complete with quite a few of the things that I hate about modern society.”
Parry readily admits that, as an Australian, she is a beach-snob with high standards. She tries to be objective, reminding herself that it’s unfair to compare the beaches of Greater Tokyo with the beaches of Adelaide. “At the end of the day, there’s a dead-set certainty that I’ll be grossed out by some filth brushing against my leg in the water here, while in Australia there’s a one-in-ten million chance that I’ll be eaten by a shark. So, I need to be modest when making comparisons.”
Despite the general disappointment of her first big swim in Japan, Parry seems upbeat about the future of Shonan. “I think that one day this beach could be on par with beaches of Australia. All it would take would be a decade or two of a dozen new laws and city ordnance measures, a slight change in the attitudes of certain beachgoers, and… oh, who I am trying to kid!? We’ll be swimming on Mars before this place looks any good.”