Sun Life 2014
Yes, I went. It was the first time in my life attending what is informally known about town as The Beach Party. I was sort of bamboozled into it by a close friend, and I didn't actually expect it to be particularly enjoyable. From what I'd heard so far it was supposed to have been overcrowded, noisy, and full of people described simply as 'foreigners'--you know, the ones fresh out of college, with the emotional maturity of primary school children, who see a couple years of living in Japan as a sort of extended, alcohol-sodden vacation--but it wasn't like that at all. In fact, I and the group I was with consisted of about half the non-Japanese there, and I'm including in that figure the Mongolians serving up the absolute most delicious fare the place had to offer.
I'd never seen so many Japanese hippies in one place in Tottori. I guess the organiser must have a lot of contacts all over the country, and invited every hippie who could run a stand to come to Tottori and do so. Hemp-seed energy balls, vegan burgers, soy chai lattes, chakra healing accessories, tie-dyed shirts and pants, electric and intricate wood carvings, it was all represented by people from other prefectures who set up their tents in front of their makeshift stalls and caught a bit of sleep whenever they could (the party ran all weekend, from Saturday morning to Sunday night, although we only stayed a few hours). In a way that was oddly refreshing, there was absolutely none of the efficient and antiseptic customer service for which the Japanese are notorious or famous--if someone ahead of you gets into a long conversation with the dude or chick at the stand while you're waiting to buy something, well, you just hang and let them do their thing, man.
While the 60s-impaired dominated the grassy upper area, the sandy beach itself was dominated by tough-looking dudes covered with tatoos. The remaining 1/3 of the total population what we'd call 'normal people', or vanilla suburbanite-looking types. Being somewhere along the continuum between hippie and vanilla suburbanite myself, I spent most of my time in the upper area, although I did take several swims in the very shallow ocean. The day was hot, and one had to go quite far offshore to actually find cool water; basically the sun had heated the upper metre of the ocean to tepid, and I'm a very slow swimmer. Nonetheless, it was nice to be able to wash the sweat off every so often between bites of Mongolian cheese bread and hand-rolled Indian spice treats. (This represented my refeeding after months of strict dieting to get down to just under 7% body fat, the lowest it's been in as long as I can remember.)
Having lived in Berkeley, California, from my perspective the event was quite tame, but it was a nice change from what Tottori normally provides. I heard afterwards that this year was different, that it often is overrun by rowdy white youths, but if it's another two days of peace, love and organic coffee next year, I might go again, and I'd recommend it to anyone who goes in for that sort of thing.