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… Hakodate…

Is where I am now. Attention saving announcement, I’m just blabbing about trip activities, so if you’re not interested, skip down to the bit on travel-photography.

It’s been interesting and mostly quite cool.

I met up with a guy I’ve sort-of known online for years now, Lal. He’s cool and we had a lot to talk about. Unfortunately he was flying out the next morning, but I’m sure the next time our paths cross will be good fun.

I’ve been eating lots of Sapporo ramen. This puts Korean ramyeon to shame, it’s amazing stuff and I am going  to find a way to get the stuff in Korea, as I’m utterly sure it’s possible.

Doing touristy things has been so-so, sometimes good and sometimes horrid. I tried to get to a place Lal recommended — I went to Toyako, not Shikotsuko, because it sounded easier — but because of a few things — me getting up late, me being an idiot, me assuming someone gave me correct directions and understanding my question — it ended up mostly being me walking and sweating. It was too foggy to visit the top of any volcano. But then again, there was some kind of childrens’ festival in the town where I ended up waiting for the second-last train back to Sapporo, just a block from the station. All the locals were out, and almost all the little girls (and half their mothers) were in kimonos. Good food, funny scenes, all kinds of coolness. I shocked a couple of Korean tourists at the station by telling them the next train was an express and they couldn’t board it, but should take advantage of the happy accident to go check out the festival. I ate some kind of excellent chicken with very-attentively applied pepper and salt.

Last night, too, was a bit of a bust: wandering was interesting but there were a few bizarre discrepancies on my map. Today was better. I saw some Dali (the modern art museum in Sapporo is showing some of his work), wandered some very untemple-like temple grounds, and went to the [old] Sapporo beer plant museum. 

At the old Sapporo plant/museum, I met some nice foreigners — one was another tourist, one a teacher new to the area. We had our beer samples together and had a good talk before I rushed off to catch my train here to Hakodate. It’s funny the kinds of things that teachers in East Asia talk about. Teachers who take their work semi-seriously, at least. How middle schoolers compare between countries, how adult students are sometimes so self-inhibited, how fun local co-workers can be…

We also think we figured out that one of Hokkaido’s state mascots is a boy with a prominent lump in his crotch and, it might be but we’re not sure, a ball of algae for a head. (I’m not sure if that’s true, but one of us was told that, and we’d all seen the figure and wondered about the crotch-lump… it’s plausible to me, as it reminds me of how a neighboorhood near mine was once famous for growing peaches. The mascot is a polite kneeling couple, with peaches for heads. Disturbing, even after you figure it out.)

I have some insane photos to share from the Sapporo plant, by the way — Harrt Potter meets brewery stuff — but not here… I’m on my hotel’s complimentary PCs and I’m not up for standing that long here, even if I am waiting for my laundry to finish.

Tomorrow, I take off for Kyoto. I’m stuck with a berth in a smoking sleeper car, but happily, I can stay up late in the nonsmoking lounge car till it’s late enough to sleep with less smoke. This is the theory. Yuck. Ah well, it’s only 17 hours since I’m going from Hakodate, not Sapporo (which was 22 or 23 hours).

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