Ako Castle in Hyogo Prefecture is associated with the Forty-Seven Ronin, who avenged the death of their lord, Naganori Asano, the daimyo of Ako, in the year 1702. After killing Yoshinaka Kira, the ronin themselves were ordered to commit suicide.
Close to the JR station, Ako Castle is easily accessed at the end of the main street, past small businesses and cafes. My daughter and I spent a beautiful autumn morning strolling along the grounds. Afterwards, we wanted to go to the sea shore - we had read that the ocean was nearby. Well... maybe that is true if you have a car! If you are walking, it is kind of far, but we wanted to go to the beach so badly we persevered until we reached our destination.
We emerged from an enormous park and there it was, the beach. As we drew closer, to our dismay a rope was strung along the stretch of sand and signs sternly forbid the hapless visitor from crossing. I supposed this was a swimming beach that was closed until the following summer season, but even though we did not want to swim we still were prevented from approaching the water. Aarrgh! We had walked a long way. Now what?
Well, we considered, there has to be a way. But the rope was actually attached to the rocks, so there was no going around the back way, so to speak, so we walked on. A bit further we discovered a large block of cement steps leading down to a section of sand and beach that was open, free and clear. We headed down and looked about, noticing plastic bottles and other pieces of trash that had washed up at a high tide. I have seen this before, and it is always a darn shame: why don't people keep the beaches clean? I don't understand it at all.
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