Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hokkaido Trip, First 10 Days

Ok, so it isn't as easy to post from the road as thought it would be. But here is the rundown of my trip so far:

Day 1: Boarded the ferry in Nigata. Steerage class, of course, so slept on the floor of a big common room. Ferry was actually really nice.
Day 2: Arrived in Otaru at 4:30am. Walked around Otaru for the next 9 hours. Once the shops opened at 10:00am, went to a Kamaboko (Fish Cake) factory and had fantastic kamaboko. Then went to a music box factory, candy factory, cake factory and various other shops. More Koreans and Chinese tourists in Otaru than Japanese tourists. Drove to Sapporo. Went to cookie factory. Stayed to a net cafe inside a shopping mall.
Day 3: Didn't sleep very well in the net cafe, so went back to the car and slept in the parking lot of a shopping mall. Slept very well. Woke up, walked around Sapporo. Saw Ainu exhibit, Sapporo city hall, central park, Sapporo University. Ate Ramen for dinner and drove to another net cafe.
Day 4: Worked at the net cafe. Got a little sleep. Woke up, drove to a park and slept some more. Went to a milk factory. Ate the best pudding I have ever had in my life. Went to Sapporo beer factory. Went to Kirin beer factory. Went to Salmon park. Drove into the mountains. Got really lost in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception and a half tank of gas (road was closed, even though it appeared on the map). Got un-lost. Parked in a parking lot for a public park. Slept.
Day 5: Woke up, went to space museum. Went to Ainu museum. Had the curator of the museum give us a private tour. Helped him translate some of the exhibit descriptions into English. Left just as hundreds of high school students showed up. Drove and drove and drove and drove. Went to "Hell Valley" at Noboribetsu onsen. Took a very hot bath at a very small bed and breakfast style onsen. Drove to Muroran. Ate dinner on the dock and slept in the marina parking lot.
Day 6: Drove to Date. Got a tour of the local history museum by the curator. Drove up to Lake Toya (where the G8 had been one week before). Saw that the place where the G8 meeting was basically an inaccessible fortress on a hill. Saw the 40 year old volcano next to it. Drove and drove and drove. Arrived in Hakodate. Went to Kelp factory. Ate kelp ice cream. Went to downtown Hakodate. Found a watch on the ground and turned it into the police. Got a recommendation from the policewoman for a Ramen shop. At the spiciest Ramen on my life. Walked around Hakodate at night. At 10:00pm, drove to the top of Mt. Hakodate to see the night view. Slept in the car at the top of Mt. Hakodate.
Day 7: Walked around Hakodate some more. Went to another Ainu museum. Had another museum curator give us a tour. Drove to the old Hakodate fortress. Drove south. Stopped in the middle of nowhere and went to the hottest onsen I have even been to (other than Kusatsu). Drove to the tiny of Fukushima, famous for its dried squid and sumo wrestlers. Slept in the parking lot of a Sumo museum.
Day 8: Went to Sumo museum. Went to Seikan tunnel museum. Drove to Matsumae. Saw Matsumae castle. Drove. Drove. Drove. Got on Freeway. Drove. Drove. Got off freeway at Yubari. Slept in parking lot near freeway exit.
Day 9: Toured Yubari. At a mellon. Drove to Asahikawa. Stayed up all night working in a net cafe.
Day 10: Went to Asahiyama zoo. Drove to Wakanai. Camped on a hill over looking the town.
Day 11: Toured Wakanai. Ate Russian food. Worked in the car. Went to an onsen. Drove to Sarufutsu.

And that brings us up to now. We are, as I type, driving along the north coast of Hokkaido.

Wild Animals seen:
Foxes - 12
Deer - 4
Bears - 0

We are going into a place that supposedly has the highest density of brown bears in the world, so hopefully that last number will be going up.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Hokaido Roadtrip, Shupatsu!

Shupatsu is what you say in Japanese when you set off on a journey.

I know. It's been a really long time. Things in my life got, and continue to be, busy. Plus, now I work on the computer, so I when I am on the computer I feel like I should be working. So my posts are going to be short for a while.

What happened? The short version. Kira and Ryan came and visited Japan. Went to the US to help Mom and Dad. Y came. Trained myself to be a webmaster. Missed Y, and came back to Japan. Applied to school. Was rejected. So know I am spending as much time as I can with Y before my visa expires and I return to the US to work with Mom and Dad.

In Japan I have had some adventures. BBQ in Nagano. Saw a Kamoshika at Shima Onsen. Carjacked by a monkey in Nikko.

And now Y and I are setting off on a month long road trip that should take us through most of northern Japan. We got us at 3:30 this morning so that we could make it onto the freeway before 4am in order to take advantage of a 40% discount. Today we will arrive in Nigata, board a ferry and sleep on the floor with the other ferry passengers durring the 17 hour trip to Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. The Alaska of Japan, in a way.

I bought a mobile phone internet plan, so I should have internet for most of the trip. Expect updates. However, since it is mobile phone based internet, pictures are going to be a little difficult. I'm still figuring that part out.

Please, spread the word. The adventure never stopped, but the story begins again!