Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Day Trip to Sapporo

[From notes written on board JR Kokuto 5 and later; posted 14 September]

Our inbound train from Aomori was two minutes late, making the connection between trains only three minutes, but a significant number of people arriving from Aomori were, like us, transferring across the platform to the northbound Kokuto for Sapporo, and it was not a problem, although there was no time to buy anything from the vending machines or on-platform vendors.

One of the reasons we had to change trains in Hakkodate is because the line north of there is not electrified, so our train north was a DMU (diesel multiple unit) set. The Green Car on this train appears to be a little old, but nice enough, with large windows and seats slightly higher above rail level than regular coach. However, after the fight with the coin laundry last night and the lack of sleep overnight in Aomori, I had difficulty enjoying the view. Instead, I dozed for an hour or so as we made our way through Hokkaido, missing some of the nice seaside scenery. The trip interspersed beautiful seaside and unspoilt mountain views with some gritty industrial scenes before merging into Sapporo's suburban sprawl.

While I slept for a while, Lisa did not because she can't get comfortable sitting down, ever. Therefore, we were both tired and on edge when we got off at Sapporo, and, in my zeal to try and get out of the way of the many other people getting off the train, managed to push Lisa into the foot traffic on the platform, which got her angry at me, and a somewhat unpleasant time commenced between us.

Our guidebook suggests taking three weeks to explore Hokkaido by rail. We had three hours in Sapporo, the first of which was spent cooling down from our argument, finding a couple of lockers for our bags, and trying to get something to eat. We were both in a much better mood when we had had a big bowl of udon in one of the apparently-inevitable restaurants clustered around the train station. We then went for a walk around the station area – walking off lunch was a good idea anyway – and wondered why there were so many TV camera crews on the plaza outside the station. A little while later, a man handed us a one-sheet extra of a local newspaper, in both Japanese and English, announcing that the Japanese prime minister was resigning. The reporters appeared to be setting up to do "local reaction here in Sapporo" shots.

Sorry that I have no photos or further reaction about Sapporo. With such a short time and with Lisa and me on such short fuses, this wasn't really the best of days for either of us, and there's no way we're going to do Sapporo justice at all. I mean, we didn't go to the Sapporo Tower, or even ride the subways that run under Sapporo station, either of which (or both) we could have done in the time we had available, but did not.

After walking around the area and failing to find any of the things Lisa wanted, either in food or sundries, we made our way back to the station, for we had a sleeper train to catch.
Tags: japan, sapporo, trains, travel

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