Felicity was invited to give a talk and run a workshop in Sapporo, so we stayed a night in Osaka before flying north to Hokkaido.
We spent the afternoon near the station in Tamba, walking though a 9-level “vertical park” which I thought an interesting way of providing some green spaces for the citizens of the surrounding high-rises. We also explored some of the city’s shopping arcades before catching the limousine bus out to the airport where our hotel was sited a convenient 5 mins from the departure hall.
Our flight only took a couple of hours, so we had time after lunch to go walking on the lower slopes of Mt Teine, where they held the 1972 Winter Olympics.
The next day I went for a long ride on our host’s bike while Felicity taught his student doctors. Mostly I was able to ride on paths alongside a big river, so it was quite pleasant.
We spent the next three days in the small fishing town of Yoichi, where we had yet another experience of Japan outside of the big cities. The town is relatively poor – $10,000 will buy a house, possibly even a reasonably good one.
There were many highlights:
- Foraging for wild food in the bush
- Kayaking around the coast and into a sea-cave, even though the wind made getting back a hard slog
- Attending a pot-luck dinner at someone’s home (a rare event in Japan), and drinking iced “plum wine”, which is really distilled Sochu alcohol that plums are seeped in for a couple of years
- Bathing in three different onsens, including one with “space water”
- Planting rice by machine on a local farm
- Getting shaved with a cut-throat razor by a hairdresser with a spinning red-and-white barber’s pole outside
- Going for a swim in the surprisingly warm sea
- Visiting a cave with neolithic paintings on the walls
- Eating fish curry with squid ink and drinking apple cider at a pirate-themed restaurant
On one of our walks around the coast, we met Sue and John, an Australian couple cycling around Japan. We got a brief mention on Sue’s blog: https://sueuonholidays2019.travel.blog
Our last day in Japan was spent getting two trains to Sapporo, flying to Tokyo and connecting with our Air New Zealand flight to Auckland. I got upgraded to premium economy, which meant a huge, comfortable seat, so I even got to sleep part of the night.
Nek minnit, it’s winter in Auckland, and the sun rises at 7.00am instead of 4.00am. Back to reality.