Sea Sickness Stories

My Nightmare Trip to a tiny Japanese Island

contributed by Tanya Hawkins

When we were touring Japan it seemed like a neat idea to visit Hegura-jima, a tiny island about two hours off the west coast.

The 'ferry' to Hegura-jima was a fishing boat carrying maybe 40 or 50 people, and all the other passengers were either locals or bird watchers with huge cameras and loads of equipment. The sea wasn't especially rough, but the boat was bobbing and rolling around all over the place and I started to feel sick almost as soon as we left the harbor. I'd never even thought about sea sickness when we bought the tickets, and now - oh God, two hours of hell!

My husband was (close to) fine though, and usually he's the one who gets nauseous on boats. None of the other passengers seemed to have any problem at all.

I was sick over the side of the boat several times, but somehow we arrived. I was so shaky for the first hour or so on the island, and all I could think of was that I had to get back on that boat to get back to the mainland that evening (there's only the ferry, no other way). We wandered around the island, which is barren and pretty uninteresting unless, apparently, you're a bird watcher, like the rest of the passengers. I couldn't even eat anything in the one café catering to visitors.

I was not at all happy about getting back on the ferry a few hours later, but it had to be done. There were lots of local youngsters on board 'escaping' to the mainland. They laughed at me when I told them (mostly in sign language) that there's no way I could ever live on their island. Lots of sea gulls chased the boat out of the harbor, swooping down to catch little bits of food that people were throwing to them. That kept my mind off feeling sick for a while, but then everyone went below deck. They were all drinking and smoking - I have no idea how they did it! I was feeling bad again by then, and I had no choice except to stay up on deck. As on the way out, I was the only one who was sea sick. It was raining a bit and the wind was really strong. I stood as far to the front of the boat as I could, with my face into the wind. It was cold and wet, but at least I could control the sick feeling. I forced myself to try to remember poems and the words to lots of old 80s pop songs. By concentrating on that and saying them to myself again and again I somehow managed to make it through the journey back to the mainland.

No disrespect to Hegura-jima, but it's only really worth doing if you're a passionate bird watcher AND completely immune to sea sickness! I will never ever go there again. And I'll make sure to think very carefully indeed before I ever do any other trip like that!




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