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Archive for June, 2008

We decided to drive to Hokkaido to attend Lucy’s graduation. Alex arrived Sunday June 15th. Woke up really early and left Aizu at about 6am. The drive from Aizu to Aomori took about 6 hours, with several stops for snacks and potty breaks. Aomori is a small town on the northern tip of Honshu island. We took a wrong exit once and that is not bad at all since we had to drive with a map all in Japanese.

The ferry crossing was two hours on the new and fast Natchan Rera. I booked the ferry through faxes. You can get the form by going to their website – no phone contact at all. They sent me a reservation info and with that we went to the ferry wharf and booked our seats and our car.

It was not crowded at all, not like the crossings from England to France or Ireland. The ferry was made in Tasmania and they invited kids to submit drawings and the winners had their drawings painted all over the sides. I will post some pictures.

We landed in Hakodate and when we got off the ferry the police stopped us and did a thorough check of our trunk and passports! they say because of the G8 summit next month they are having extra security. Today we will drive to Sapporo. The G8 will be in the town of Toyako in July. We will be staying there for our last night in Hokkaido.

Before going to Sapporo, we will visit an onsen town called Jozankei. It is a pretty town, which I visited when I was here last February.

A few people thought we were crazy to drive to Hokkaido but truly, the drive was great (that’s because Dave did all the driving – ha ha) and we had no problems even though the map was in japanese. You get to learn all the names of the towns in Kanji. Fortunately, they do write the names in Romaji so that helps alot. Just be prepared for lots of toll charges. They accept credit cards and I think it cost us about $150 in toll from Aizu to Aomori which is roughly 400 km.

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We woke up really early to take Lucy to the airport. SHe was flying to Sapporo, meet her classmates and teachers, then fly on to the Phillipines for a weeks’ worth of community projects with Habitat for Humanity. They will be delivering 6 wheel chairs and working on housing projects.

Yesterday I got her steel capped toe work shoes and work pants and leather gloves! But we forgot diarrhea meds and antibiotic creams. Her first casualty was her finger – she sliced it open accidently on her razor while rummaging in her toilet bag looking for her contact lens case at Sapporo Airport. She said she nearly fainted and that worried me alot! Fortunately she had band aids and had her tetanus shots two weeks ago.

Well, after the airport trip we rushed back to bowl with our friends who owned an English school here. There were lots of school kids and parents. I managed 2 strikes in a row at game 10 and the last shot I bowled a 9 – darn – could have been 3 strikes. After bowling we all went to an Okonomiyaki restaurant where we cooked what is basically am omeltte with cabbage, meat or seafood on a hot plate at our table. Once it is cooked, brown sauce like worcestershire sauce and mayo is squeezed on, then sprinkled on¬†shredded seaweed and fish flakes. We also had noodles with all fresh seafood, cooked on the hot plate. For dessert we had green tea ice cream but it was kind of too soft and not cold enough. I was so full, I was not going to eat dinner. Famous last words…

When we got home, while David napped, I did the laundry, hung them out to dry, folded some previously dried clothes, ironed Dave’s shirts, sewed Lucy’s graduation dress, learnt Japanese and wrote my dairy in Japanese!

When Dave got up, we decided to go for a bike ride. I thought it was a jaunt into town so I had my danskos on to ride the bike. Well, we did two hours of riding up and down hills…we rode to small side streets and admired all the beautiful flowers people had in their tiny gardens, then Dave took me to Matsudaira ke Byosho, which was a huge graveyard for Shoguns and their familes, in the mountains. We had to carry our bikes up these steep slippery steps. FInally, I told him we should leave our bikes and walk up without our bikes, as it was getting dark and the steps were slippery.

We had to stop while he dealt with a phone call from work. By the time he was done, it was really dark and I said to myself that is getting creepy visiting a graveyard in the dark! We managed to see one gravestone. It was a huge stone structure . Dave said there were hundreds and bigger stones further up in the woods but I told him that I wanted to go back NOW!! There were several shogun leaders and their families buried in the mountians and one day I will go back up there to take some pictures for you to see.

We staggered back down the slippery steps to our bikes. From here we rode our bikes to Higashiyama Spa which is a hotel in the mountains with hot spring baths (Onsens). I went in to find a bathroom and then we rode further up the mountain road in the dark!

By the time we rode back into AIzu, it was almost 8.30pm. We had burnt some of the calorieswe had over lunch and being us, we had to replenish those! So we stopped at the local Thai restaurant and had a lovely dinner.

Nice day all in all. I hope Lucy gets into the Phillipines as there is no way of contacting her.

 

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