3/4/2012 – I found a journal that I wrote trying to recover some missing information since my laptop was later stolen. I only wrote up this section of the trip so I’m going to transcribe it here as I had written it down. I will add to the information after the post.
This journal is being written because my laptop with my notes on previous days was stolen. This means that many of my memories of these places will forever be lost, as I am no good at remembering details unless they are written down. My usual style of writing will also have to change. Because it will be too hard to remember days sequentially, I will record my memories by sequential cities, and whatever I can remember in a varied amount of detail. Hopefully this journal will not be lost or stolen like the last one. But just in case, if you find this journal, send it to the address on the opposite page. – Ben Douglas
My Journey From Taipei To Northern Japan
The flight to Japan was unremarkable. Getting to the Taipei airport was a very long trip and I demand that they place the airport closer to the city next time. I unfortunately flew in to Tokyo during the evening, so I could not compare the actual overview of the city with all the models I saw in Godzilla films. After a quick visit to the tourist center, and purchasing the appropriate train ticket, I was leaving TOkyo northbound on the famed Shikansen type train. Once again, unfortunately it was evening so I did not get a good sense of how fast I was traveling. After a few stations a man came to the seat next to me. He was wearing the Japanese geta, which are wooden sandals, and this completely surprised me. I had no idea that people actually wore those things! Well, we did not speak each others language, but managed to “talk” to each other just a bit during the ride. Suddenly he gave me two pictures he had taken of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Very odd… Anyway, he got off at his city and I continued up North. I ha not exactly planned how I would continue my trip, which led to my next adventure. Upon leaving the train in Aomori, it was pretty clear I could not continue my trip until the next day. Also unfortunate, the information center had closed and the guard to the place didn’t speak enough English. He did give me a sort of “menu” of hotels in the area, but they were all way too expensive. Finding no other choice, I resolved to sleep in the city. I tossed my bags into the coin lockers, and started walking. It got later and later, and I got fairly familiar with the downtown area of Aomori. The city is next to the water, but since it was early September the weather was still pretty warm. I found a nice bench right on the seaside, laid out and tried to sleep. Needless to sy it was pretty hard, and I only got a few hours of sleep before I had to get up and walk around some more. THankfully there are stores open 24 hours. After going around, I found another bench next to this small children’s playground. It was a bit easier to sleep at since there was less wind, but once again I only got a few hours of sleep. I woke up and decided I had slept enough. ZBut as I was leaving my improvised bedroom, I noticed that I actually had been sleeping right behind a police station!
Got in to Sapporo, and went to the hostel. This was the first actual place I stayed in Japan, andI was a little surprised at how extremely polite and courteous the hostel staff was. In the evening I went out to a small alleyway filled with Ramen shops. After meandering a while, I chose a random one that turned out to be alright. The owner bought me a beer because my birthday was coming up and we had a small chat about American movies we liked, many starring Steve McQueen. I went back to the hostel and had a nice chat with a man missing a few teeth. In the morning, I wanted to explore Sapporo before leaving, so a Canadian named Terrence and I set out into the city. It was a very nice city, despite some pretty lame tourist attractions like a clock tower and a European style building and a small TV tower. Our last stop was the Sapporo Brewery, which is really the main attraction there. The place had some cute displays and the beers we tried there were fairly good. We mixed a few of the different ones together trying to make better tasting combos. Got a little tipsy and hungry so we made our way to a less than satisfactory food court. After this I realized the time my train was leaving was closer than I expected, so we hurried back to the hostel. What I hadn’t accounted for was a gigantic shopping mall maze that was between the train’s subway stop and the train station. So I missed my train. No worries though, I caught the next one and just called Sean, the guy hosting me in Saroma my next stop, to tell him I would be late.