My friend E. and I went to Hokkaido for Golden Week. We took the ferry from Sendai to Tomakomai, and let me tell you, it was horrible. The very limited buffet cost 2 sen ($25+) and the futons were half a person wide and one and a half people long. I was unwillingly touching my neighbors all night. The air smelt of stale cigarettes and everyone and their 3-month-old stared at E. for being noticeably foreign. I’m talking triple-takes and no-so-discreet picture taking. And the water was so rough on the way back that everyone was falling all over themselves, which was admittedly hilarious. But then I had to get sick, which was not so hilarious.
Next time–if there even is a next time–I’m going to use alternative modes of transportation. Unless I’m desperate to save money again. Which I probably will be.
The view from the window. Nothing but sea.
And here begins the list of … :insert drumroll: … (also, please announce this in a cheesy Mr. Movie Trailer Voice)
What to Do and NOT Do in Hokkaido
#1. DO NOT walk from the ferry port to Tomakomai Station. It takes ages and there’s nothing along the way but garbage and sad-looking buildings.
#2. Visit the Jingu Shrine and cross your fingers for some food stalls.
Maybe you’ll even see a wedding
#3. Try to avoid the Salmon Museum. Unless you want a laugh at how bizarre it is. It’s just a bunch of salmon in different life stages crammed into a handful of tanks.
#4. DO NOT go to the Hokkaido University Botanical Garden off season expecting beauty. Seems obvious, but I thought they would have more variety in winter plants. What. is. wrong. with. me.
#5. But DO visit the taxidermy house in said garden. Feel free to cackle at their wacky, frozen faces.
A flying squirrel!!
#6. Also feel free to admire the architecture.
#7. Visit the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art. Because I seriously wanted to marry Abe Ten-ei by the end of my visit.
#8. Walk around the Otaru Canal.
These are squid boat lights. Unfortunately, it was too rainy to see them out at sea at night.
#9. Take a boat ride around Otaru. Be sure to buy snacks onboard to feed the swarm of following seagulls.
#10. But DON’T go to the aquarium there. It’s a bit sad. The tanks aren’t big enough and the seals and turtles were thump-my-head-against-a-wall depressed.
We caught the tail-end of a seal show (har har), and Shizuka was damn over everything:
#11. But if you do end up going there, take the ride around the Cycle Rider. I’m so mad that the video I took failed to save, because it was the rattiest ride of all time. It consisted of a tiny two-person hooded metal quinceañera throne-looking thing with pedals to slowly move yourself around a very rusty elevated track. Hilarity will ensue.
#12. Climb Mt. Moiwa. It’s located on the edge of Sapporo, and only takes ~1.5 hours to climb. There’s even a ropeway for you not-so-active folks! And the many lovely statues on the way up serve as convenient picture breaks. Also, be sure to greet everyone you see on your way up/down.
The view from the top
#13. And of course, eat everything. EVERYTHING.
Dinner @ a crab place in Sapporo
Kani with wasabi <3
Ramen road: beer and miso ramen
Sushi in Otaru
Soup curry @ Suage, dear lord. Mine was honey mustard chicken and avocado.
All-you-can-eat ghengis kahn
Cookies @ the Hakodate Museum of Art