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Gishi no Mokusou

Alex Forencich's contemplations on Life, Engineering, and Japan

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Category: Hokkaido

Today we left Sapporo and rode the train to Niseko (ニセコ町). The town and surrounding region is widely known for the ski slopes on Mt. Yotei (羊蹄山 youteizan) and the surrounding peaks, including Niseko Annupuri (ニセコアンヌプリ). The train ride to Niseko is rather long as the train is basically a bus on tracks. To get to Niseko, we took trains on the Hakodate Line from Sapporo, changing trains at Otaru Station. The train we rode from Otaru worked like a city bus instead of a train, with passengers taking stop number tickets when they get on and then paying the fare on the display for their number when they get off. The train also didn’t go much faster than a bus down the single set of tracks. The stations the train stopped at on the way were tiny. I will be sure to get some pictures on the way out of Niseko; I didn’t have a good position on the train to take many pictures out the window.

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After a good night’s sleep on our first night in Sapporo, we spent most of the day walking around the Sapporo snow festival. Called Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (さっぽろ雪まつり) in Japanese, the festival is held annually in Sapporo. We only plan to visit the site in Odori Park (大通公園 odori kouen) as we will only be in Sapporo for one full day. The festival takes up most of the park’s 12 blocks in downtown Sapporo. Apparently the Japanese self-defense force brings in snow from around Sapporo and uses it to build the gigantic snow sculputures, known as daisetsuzo (大雪蔵). There are also many other, smaller snow sculptures as well, built by people from all over the world.

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This morning, we got up around 6 am or so to see the sunrise. I wasn’t really planning on going originally, but with all the commotion of everyone else waking up and running out the door the hope for sleep was futile, so I decided to go ahead and tag along anyway. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the sunrise at all because of the clouds. The wind on the deck was beastly as well and I got completely covered in nasty salt spray while I was out there. The UV filter on my lens also got completely nailed. Oh well. After breakfast and a futile attempt at taking a nap that degenerated into another game of rummy, the ferry arrived in Tomakomai.

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Today, we left Sendai for Tomakomai (苫小牧) on the Taiheiyo Ferry (太平洋フェリー). Somebody decided to take a nap shortly before leaving, so we left the International House with very little time to spare. From there, we took the bus to Sendai Station were just in time to catch the Senseki line for the port. We got off at Nakanosakae station (中野栄駅) with little time to spare, so we took taxis from there to the ferry terminal. We ended up arriving about 10 minutes before the ferry was scheduled to leave.

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