this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr

for the main blog of poetry, whimsy and maybe beauty, now

Saturday, 12 September 2009

day 4, Hakodate - Sapporo - Iwamizawa

This was a day spent in travel. I started it well, though, at the morning market, where I had a wonderful ramen with prawns, scallops and crab with a salt (shio) broth base. Hakodate is famous for its morning market and for its seafood ramen, so it was wonderful. Especially as the fried noodles (yaki soba) the night before were not particularly wonderful.

All of Hokkaido is known for its food. I used to ask my students what they did on their holidays in Hokkaido and they said 'ate'. Then I would ask, 'Yes, but what else did you do?' I understand their response perfectly now. You just want to try everything.

I left Hakodate just after 8am I think, and arrived in Sapporo close to five. I had time to pop into the tourist office to find out some cheapish accommodation in the town of Iwamizawa, about an hour out of Sapporo. I was climbing Asahidake mountain(2900m) on the following day, but I couldn't reach the first bus to the mountain on time if I took the local trains from Sapporo.

On the way to Sapporo, we had an hour or so to wait at Oshamambe. Another small town, but right on the coast. The train line follows the coast for a fair way. Lots of students use the seishun juhachi kippu, and when I went down to the beach, three boys had left their bag on all the flotsam and jetsam that had washed in while they threw sticks and bits out into the ocean.

Train station from disused train carriage, on the way to Sapporo.

Still, I had some time to kill before getting to Iwamizawa, so I wondered around Sapporo in search of their ramen alley. One thing that map makers in certain parts of Japan do not seem to realise is that if you translate everything on a map, the locals will not understand, or you even. For example, if a bus-stop is called shin-yama (new mountain) and it is literally transcribed on a map, no local will know where 'new mountain' bus-stop is, but they will know where shin-yama basu is. Likewise, things are often spelt in Romaji (sometimes) and it is always a romanization of the Japanese word, not a direct translation. Anyway. The best maps, of course, are those with both English and Japanese, but they are few and far between.

So, searching for this alleyway with a map that didn't have its Japanese name (I did have that name in my guidebook, but pulling it in and out of my [heavy] backpack was a pain. I should have just written it on the palm of my hand). I eventually popped into a convenience store and asked. He gave me the Japanese name, directed me, but I still couldn't find it (later I found I was looking at New Ramen Alley on my map, instead of Ramen Alley). So, I popped into the first store I saw. Misordered, but still had a not bad dish of Chinese cold noodles, then slightly disappointed, walked back towards the train station. Took a photo of the famous clock (though it's hard to know why it is famous, really), and went to another ramen shop which was a chain, but which had been recommended in the guidebook.

There I had a scallop ramen with butter and lots of corn which is a Hokkaido speciality. It was yummy, but I probably wouldn't have ordered it again.

Then, finally, about seven-thirty onto Iwamizawa. I arrived at nine and had some trouble finding the minshuku (again - the minshuku name was in Kanji but written in Romaji on the map - doubling up would save a lot of time. I asked the girls at the station to write the kanji for me) but once there, settled in, and woke at 6 the next morning for my train journey into Asahikawa.


anglophile said...

Arghh! :P

lizardrinking said...

Hey, I found your comment! That's the trouble with having them modified, it gets a bit confusing locating them.

Sorry. I guess you better not read day 8 (?) either. ;)

this cutie was taken by Crazyegg95 in 2005 and is from flickr