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

After a late start due to skipping a night of sleep before we left, Aaron and I set out for the day around noon or so. We had no specific agenda other than to see the touristy sights of the city and take pictures. We stopped by the JR札幌 Tourist Info Center to pick up a map and set off in the cold.

While we were in the station, Aaron caught a scent he called "breakfasty," which he described as an almost burning smell given off by hot stoves, usually associated with diners. We followed his nose to a restaurant specializing in お好み焼 ("As you like it, cooked"), a wonderful food that's like a cross between a pizza and a pancake. You're given a bowl of ingrediants, which you can choose, and after some vigorous stirring, you dump the whole concotion onto the stovetop in the middle of you table and treat it like a pancake with pizza (minus cheese and bread) ingredients. If you're so inclined, it's traditional to put mayo on top along with special sauce, but I hate mayonaise and always skip that step.

After our late breakfast, Aaron was dying to go back to an office supplies store we had visited the night before to buy a backpack he had seen there. I admit, despite the slightly inferior quality of materials, the thing was a steal at Y980, plus the name of it was "The Ranger," inspiring Aaron's imagination to its usual heights.

After purchasing the backpack, we continued walking around the city and managed to get horribly turned around and confused even with the easy-to-understand, predictable arrangement of roads and addresses. We had decided to walk to the Sapporo Factory, a huge shopping complex, and believed we were headed in the right direction. We passed a quaint looking building, small and almost lost among the skyscrapers, but every passerby was stopping to take a picture of the comparably unimpressive structure. I snapped a picture in passing, asking Aaron if we should stop for a closer look to see what exactly the building was, but he insisted we should keep moving until we found the clock tower.

After another twenty minutes of confusion, we discovered the unimpressive building was, indeed, the clock tower.

He felt like a goof, I laughed.

Now that we had our bearings, we easily located the Sapporo Factory, and spent a few hours perusing the multitude of shops inside. Almost every single store had a display of Hello Kitty keitai ornaments and keychains, and it got to the point where I was sick of seeing them. I never thought I would tire of their irresistible cuteness, but I suppose even my vulnerable heart has its limits. I did buy a mandatory keitai decoration for myself, however. I learned my lesson though - always shop around, even when the merchandise in question is Hello Kitty. The Sanrio store was the most expensive place of all the shops, but I was too excited to consider the fact that this is Japan and other stores besides Sanrio sell Hello Kitty.

We headed back towards downtown for dinner, eating in the same huge "Pleasure Land" underground arcade complex. That place is absolutely massive, and there are several other divisions and sections that we didn't even enter. I had some sort of curry omelet at a place called L'omelette, and Aaron had a similar version of the same thing.

After dinner, we wandered the huge shopping center, which extended from the huge underground mall to seven stories of stores, up to the JR Tower rising 30-some floors over the city. We stopped by the movie theater on the 7th floor to check what was showing, but even though Once Upon a Time in Mexico with Johnny Depp (Aaron adores him even more than I do) was starting in ten minutes, I was not in the mood to spend $20 on a movie. I can't believe it's so expensive in Japan - in the States, I could buy the fucking DVD for $20 and watch it ten times a day if I was so inclined. But even the DVDs here are twice the price they should be. Perhaps the inflated prices are meant to cover the costs and effort that has to go into translating and dubbing or subtitling the film, but still. I will not patronize such insanity.

So we returned to the hotel a little before 10pm, and early night. We spent a few hours vegging in front of the TV, watching a reality show about a Chicago children's hospital, which starred a super smart yet horribly condescending young black doctor as the chief source of explanation and background information on the different cases that were presented.

And that concluded Day Two of kaytay's Hokkaido adventure.

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