Hokkaido, Japan
from the foreign female perspective
Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

It took several minutes of searching before Aaron and I could find a seat at breakfast in a banquet hall built for maybe 500 people. It was that crowded. However, once again, I was able to ignore the multitudes of people due to the delicious array of delicacies provided by the hotel. My favorite was tiny rice dumplings in a anko soup, and some tropical fruit cocktail. Fruit is a treat here because it’s so expensive, so it was good to get a healthy dose of Vitamin C again.

I’d asked the hotel reception dude how to get to the station when we checked in, so with map in hand, Aaron and I set off with our ever-heavier suitcases to see a bit of the city before boarding our 10:25am train back to Tokyo.

We passed a ridiculous shrine on the way. Noboribetsu is famous for 地獄谷 (Jikokudani, Hell Valley), which means there are statues of demons and devils on every corner. Some are cute, some are scary, others are absurd. This shrine housed a massive cartoonish man statue, which, on a timed schedule, would mechanically change his face into a green or red devil while people prayed. In other words, it’s a massive tourist trap, just like the entire town. I was really distressed by the development in the vicinity, as it was painfully obvious that the area existed for the sole purpose of tourism. The huge hotels, dozens of souvenir shops, quaint statues, bars. It wasn’t real. I could only imagine what the Valley was like before the developers discovered its money-making potential and decided to exploit it.

Aaron and I hopped on a bus to the 登別, which turned out to be a little pricey. We were shocked when we arrived, however. Outside the Valley, the town of Noboribetsu is incredibly run down and tiny.

As we were staring at the station in disbelief, we even saw several freight trains pass through on the JR. Freight trains!! You’d never see that in the city.

We still had about an hour before our train was to arrive, so Aaron and I took up the inadequate handles of our luggage and set off towards a pretty building we could see in the distance. The building turned out the be some Marine Park, which was closed until later in the day. So we continued to walk, until we came upon a sleepy little fishing port stuffed full of dirty boats and old men in rubber boots. We must have looked ridiculous pulling suitcases and wearing street clothes, but we marched right in with the intent of seeing the ocean. On the way, we were confronted by flocks of seagulls the size of small cats. They were easily three times the size of normal Lake Michigan seagulls, like dirty white cats with wings and cruel beaks. Thankfully none of the attacked, and Aaron and I made it to a winding dirt path that took us up on top of a sea wall.

It was funny to look at our luggage sitting in the middle of nowhere. The poor suitcases had been through so much and played such a steady, reliable, and important roll in our vacation.

We headed back to the station after taking a million pictures of the little red lighthouse and the water, thinking fondly of Holland and the State Park. Soon enough we were on the train, nine hours stretching out into the future.

The ride back was a bit irritating. For 6 of the 9 hours, we were next to two different mother/daughter combos, both of which included an incredibly obnoxiously talkative little girl. The mothers did absolutely nothing to stifle their children’s volume, nor did they stop them from staring and pointing at the foreigners. One little girl stood by Aaron’s chair for 15 solid minutes, staring at him with wide eyes and open mouth. Any kid in the States would get reprimanded for such rude behavior, but not here.

But we finally made it back to Tokyo, and it was good to be home.

That concludes the Last Day of kaytay’s Hokkaido Adventure. Thanks for reading.

Day : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7