Summerland is a big place run by Japanese people for, mainly, Japanese people, but there was a surprising amount of English around so obviously there get a lot of foreign visitors there. We went on 13/14th July and I know what you’re thinking, ‘why did we go so close to, or rather in, the rainy season?’ well, it was one of those work-holiday-price-overcrowdedness questions, with the potential overcrowdedness issues of going leter in the month outweighing all other considerations. Don’t believe me, this is the large pool at ‘peak’ time:
|There is a pool there, it’s just you can’t see it as it’s covered in people!|
The “pool” above is their big, indoor wave pool; they also have a couple of kids’ play pools and a couple of waterslides inside; whilst outside they have more pools, more slides and an amusement park. So we got there after a journey involving not only trains but also a bus too. As I mentioned we went on the 13th and whilst this did overcome the overcrowdedness issue it failed on the nice weather criteria, being grey and wet and, as we were a little way out of Tokyo, quite cold as well – surprising, I know, for rainy season, but once you get away from the heat island effect of Tokyo’s 23 wards the temperature drops dramatically, there is tundra in Tochigi, you know… (not really).
Anyway, as we’re staying for the night we are allowed to drop our bags at the ‘lodge’ and head to the attractions. As it wasn’t really raining at this point we thought we’d try a few of the rides. Knowing that the little fella isn’t really into being scared that much we head for the gentle looking Spin Dinghy, a ride based on, if you can guess, a spinning dinghy. Apprehensive though he was we board and the ride gradually builds up spinning speed. Approximately 0.25 seconds into the ride Marcus starts to scream, a scream that lasts the rest of the ride and causes concern in parenting circles that the fella might pass out through lack of oxygen. He didn’t, I’m glad to say. With that and the prospect of the ‘Air Catapult’ looming we felt discretion was the better part of valour and headed for the pools instead.
The pools – what can I say, they were big and full of water. The first one the little fella tried was the Tropical Fruits Island, which was a bunch of little waterslides designed for the smaller members of public (e.g. children and members of the ‘under 5-foot club’). So Marcus slid, jumped, wallowed and generally had a very nice time. There was also another pool next to this that had a climbing frame and a big bucket that filled and then dumped water over everyone. Then there was the big wave pool in the picture above.
Because it was a Tuesday still in rainy season the place was pretty much empty, comparatively speaking. There was a big kindergarten group that Marcus attached himself to and played with for a while, until they disappeared somewhere else. But hordes of fun seeking holiday makers there were few, which was good as it meant we didn’t have to wait for anything. At lunchtime we did the decent thing and went for lunch. After my much documented travails with TDL I was most happy to discover that this place, as it is run by Japanese, realised that doting though fathers may be, they still like a beer with their chicken and chips, and a reasonably priced beer at that.
The evening was spent at the aforementioned ‘lodge’ – this was a bit of an odd place. To start with there were only 2 occupied rooms in the place, leaving 22 gaps, as it were. As is natural the place had a big ‘ofuro’ (lit. bath) but as there were only 2 sets of guests the lodge people decided that we, as a family could have one bath to ourselves and the other guests could have the other. OK, so even knowing this it felt weird using the ‘women’s’ bathroom because I knew, deep down, that even though I had been told I could use it, I knew I shouldn’t, not really – it was the women’s bathroom. A relaxing bath it did not make.
Dinner was taken in a dining hall with space for about 40 scoffers but with only actually 5. Vast, echo-ey spaces and all that, but at least they served beer (pet hate here (might have mentioned it before, but this one annoyed me) – went to the serving lady, who was also the front desk lady with whom I had conversed earlier, and asked in flawless Japanese, as we stood next to a poster of a bottle of Suntory Premium Malts beer, if I could have a beer, please. She looked at me, then turned to the Guru who was getting some water, and told her that they only served bottled beer, was that OK? Er, hello, I’m standing next to, asking you a simple question in Japanese that we have previously established I can speak to a reasonable degree, the least you could do is address me first and wait to see if I do the confused guppy-fish expression before asking my wife. For fuck’s sakes).
Anyway, dinner was a mostly Japanese affair, with lots of small dishes of mostly edible stuff. Nice, but not awe-inspiring. Breakfast, on the other hand was a sight to behold – it was a full on Japanese morning dining experience, that meant a bowl of grey slimy stuff, a bowl of pink slimy stuff, black slimy stuff that might have been seaweed, rice with raw egg, natto and other not so easily identifiable or digestible delicacies. Mmm. Envious glances at Marcus’ kid’s breakfast, which included toast, hash browns, a sausage, scrambled eggs and a small, pleasant looking salad. Oh well…
The rest of the day was spent in the pools, of course, but this time the weather was fine so we could use the outdoor pools as well. This was good, of course, as we could use the slides. Bit of a gripe that there were three different water slides open but 2 of them were ‘pair rides’ so 2 people had to go at the same time, but with a small child and a wife who wasn’t into water slides I had no one to go with – boo hoo etc.
And that was about it, all in all a good couple of days away, but like TDL I wouldn’t want to go there on a bank holiday Monday in August – actually to be honest there aren’t that many places that I would like to go to on a bank holiday Monday in August…