In many respects, what I have seen of Hokkaido so far reminds me of the northern countryside parts of the UK, with added mountains. The views continue to stun as we gently rock our way through the mountains in this military grade machinery they call a one-man-car train. The whole train consists of one sole carriage. It’s cold here, dropping to the minuses in the late evening, but it’s not as bitter like the rest of Japan. Again, much like the UK in that respect. I am currently at Mori station with a 32 minute wait (no transfer) so I took the opportunity to leave my bag behind (quite blasphemous in Western countries out of fear of robbery and of it being suspicious) and do a quick explore around the station. Not much here but the gigantic mountain in the background and the Uchiura Bay on my right.
A 2hrs wait at Oshamanbe station led me to at least have a look around the little town. At first glance, it felt like a derelict ghost town. There was an onsen resort area indicated on a map at the train station but once I arrived, I noticed that most of them have been either abandoned or closed today. In the end, I completed a part of an errand at the local post office and in search for lunch, ended up dining at the 7-11. Snow pelted down for most of the time, with the sun breaking out towards the end. Some familiar faces are on the train again, possibly doing the same route as I. There is one addition I’ve noticed who in the previous train decided to grace his naked feet upon the velvet seats in front of him.
A sheet of white everywhere I look out of the window. This whole land is covered with snow. No sign of life except for the trees and plants protruding their leafless bodies through. It’s amazing that these one-carriage trains can manoeuvre their way through the mountains. I remember once, to much frustration and some amusement, a train bound for York from London was grounded because the wrong type of leaf was on the tracks. The Japanese would have just obliterated that leaf with their mighty wheels.
Managed to get to Sapporo and enjoyed a 2hrs break from the trains. Had the famous Sapporo ramen for dinner and went on a hunt for a copy of The Japan Times. Not to brag or anything, but I have a piece written in the newspaper! Fantastic… But during the hunt, one of the shopkeepers tells me that the newspaper arrives a day later in Sapporo. Frustrating because I won’t be in Sapporo tomorrow, and what might be the likelihood that they would be selling a newspaper written in English in a countryside town? Boo indeed. On the plus side, I did manage to use the time wisely to visit some of the tourist hotspots of Sapporo. Sapporo TV Tower was beaming with their lights, and the clock tower looked seemingly foreign. All in all, managed to get a good taste of Sapporo tonight. Heading off to the countryside tonight, and the final leg of the journey ends tomorrow just after noon. See you then!