Still being last year for the events of this post, we went to snowy, freezing Hokkaidou for our winter vacation. Some of the things we did are: slid across partially frozen water while looking at water that only freezes at the north and south poles, pretended we were lobsters, and apparently entered hell. Sounds interesting? It was!
This is going to be a bit of a longer post, just because I haven’t had time to write another since the last one. Okay, actually I had time, but I didn’t really feel like it. A part of it was starting my internship at Fujitsu, another part recovering from winter vacation (which seems weird, but from all the travelling I did, it’s normal I think), but really I just kind of wanted a break from everything. Which I had, so now I’m back in overdrive!
There are a couple of miscellaneous things I want to talk about in this post. Saying “a couple” might be a bit of an understatement however, so let’s just get down to business. I went to the hairdresser a while ago, and it was absolutely amazing. It costs a bit more than I’m used to, but you really get unbelievably good service. You know the plastic things they wrap around your neck to keep you dry and free of stray hair? There are many, many layers of those, each for a different purpose. Sounds duller than it actually is. There are many hot towels for washing your face, and they actually dry your hair with a hot towel (not a wet one, it’s just hot). You also get a head, neck and shoulder massage. I asked my hairdresser how he got so good at everything and he said that they only train for one year after high school, and then get a license to work. Maybe it’s just me, but it was a very nice experience.
Another thing I saw on the way home from school one day was a train driver (is that the word?) in training. It was really nice to see that, her making announcement in the actual driver’s stead, and him teaching what to do at stations. My writing skills aren’t good enough to express what happened, but it was a really happy moment to see someone learning a really cool job. The whole thing was quite a procedure, with everything being obviously extremely deliberate and respectful towards us passengers, and also the train. A happy memory.
Speaking of coming home from school, school has officially ended. Well, more than a month ago, but still. The last few weeks were a bit hectic, having a whole lot to do, doing preparations for final events and such, but it was really fun. We got our final presentations over with, which went really well, had a farewell party, and just generally started saying goodbye to the teachers, and also, each other. Some participants have moved really far away, and we’ll only really see each other at group presentations and such. It was a happy time, a sad time, but everyone moved on and started their internships.
Speaking of internships, mine is going well. I obviously can’t say anything because of non-disclosure clauses, but it’s really interesting and it shows that Fujitsu is a huge multinational company. My coworkers and supervisor are really nice too, and help me whenever I need it. I’ve never worked for 8 months sequentially before, that’ll be a new experience for me, but I think it’ll be interesting.
Finally getting to the titular content of the post, let’s talk about Hokkaidou! Often written “Hokkaido” in English, the correct romanization is “Hokkaidou” I think, and literally means northern sea way. It’s the northern island of Japan, nearest to Russia, with the capital city of Sapporo. It was really cold. I mean, I’m kind of used to cold from Slovenia, and it wasn’t really colder, but it was colder than other parts of Japan.
To refer to the weird “things we did” in the first paragraph, among other things, we went skiing, visited an onsen and visited a place called Hell Valley. Those are things you can’t really do in Tokyo. A thing that surprised me about Sapporo (where we stayed) was roads were completely frozen. I’m not talking about just partially frozen, but literally covered in 5 - 10 cm of ice everywhere. Cars drove on that. We had a hard time walking, but no cars ever got into an accident, so my assumption is that drivers there are really careful.
Another weird thing was that I found everything very socialist. I don’t know exactly what it was, maybe the Russian influence, but it really did give off an Easter Bloc vibe. Apart from the Japanese everywhere. Moving on, there aren’t a lot of pictures this time because I didn’t take my DSLR with me, and also didn’t want to freeze my hands off in the cold. There are some really good ones, so take a look at the attached album.
Skiing was amazing, we went to Teine, close to Sapporo. It’s a beautiful place, with a view over the whole of Sapporo and also the ocean, all from a very scenic ski route over 4 kilometres long. Being out-of-season at the time, we were almost alone on the slopes, which felt unbelievably good.
We also went to an onsen (natural hot spring) in the hot spring town of Noboribetsu, which was a wonderful experience. The water had 40 degrees, and there were also saunas, outdoor baths, cold pools, jacuzzis and other fun things! We, of course, observed proper etiquette for traditional Japanese baths. That day, we also went around the town to the Hel Valley, which was a picturesque, steamy place, a bit warmer than the surroundings due to the mini natural hot springs ang geysers.
Other than that, some smaller villages and the nightly illuminations. It was a nice place. For the next trip, we went in the completely other direction in Japan, stay tuned for the next post to find out where!
See the full album linked to this post here (click)!