11.12.2019 - 11.12.2019
Breakfast at The Stay wasn’t very good. Probably not going to eat there again. The mashed potatoes were cold and all lumps. Cold corn & broccoli isn’t really my cuppa either, and neither is corn soup (at least it was hot though). The rest was fine though. Had a bit of a lie in. It’s looking like Sapporo is going to be a bit of a dip in activity - need time to recuperate and prepare for the busyness that will be Sendai! In hindsight, writing this from Sendai, I wish I had just spent these three nights in Sendai. But we live and learn. I did get out there eventually, and headed to Odori Park.
Look, don’t know what I was expecting - a green paradise in winter? In Japan? C’mon. No, it was frozen and icy and all tarmac paving. We moved on to the Hokkaido University Botanical Garden, which was closed. Bummer. Peeping through the iron fence, though, I saw the most gorgeous frozen lake. Frozen lakes are such a rarity to me in NZ, so they’re pretty exciting. They did have a greenhouse open, which was pretty cheap so I went in. It wasn’t super exciting, but was fine. The cacti were cool. Was keeping an eye out for NZ plants in the international section, but no dice. All the plants local to the Hokkaido region looked very dead, so I wonder what was up with that? Everything else was flourishing.
Moving on (and looking at that pond again) I started the long hunt for this go club I had my eye on, the Nihon Ki-in Hokkaido Headquarters (it’s a go thing - basically a place where lots of people go to play). I did see on google maps, on the way, this cool-looking park, so I headed over. It wasn’t closed, and here I discovered my favourite thing - all the trees had hats. Well, maybe that’s a misnomer. Some had cloaks! And some were held up! Man, it made me so happy. Trees with hats. Yes, okay, it’s to stop the snow from crushing them, but trees with hats is a very cute image in my head (and in real life!).
The park was pretty nice. It was centered around this red brick building, which was the old government building and is now a tourist spot, which I just happened to stumble into. I thought it looked quite nice. I must say, it’s a lot better being in Sapporo when the ground is clear. Walking over the snow yesterday was such a hassle, but with the ground clear it’s much more delightful just walking around. I had a poke around the park, and the nearby boulevard.
Time for lunch! Then I kept trying to find this go club. Turns out, I had put into Google Maps the name of the suburb, not the street. Japanese road design is pretty confusing, not having usual street names. It was pretty cool, recognising the kanji for “go” and then hunting it down through this building when I got closer. It was up on the 9th floor, in this big office room, but all well set up for playing go. The receptionist paired me up with the only gentleman in the building (I presume) who spoke any English. He spoke a lot better English than I spoke Japanese. We played for quite a while, and I lost track of the time. I realised at 3 what the time was, and had to go! It’s an hour trip to get up to the top of Mount Moiwa, and since the sun sets at 4, I had to hustle. Finding free wifi to sort out my Google Maps is always a hassle, but I managed it in the end.
To get up the mountain, I had to get to the base of it by tram and then up by gondola. The tram was pretty cool and had a cool old-timey vibe while also being a regularly used method of transport. The underground really isn’t used in Sapporo very much it seems. Some buses though. I hiked up the mountain (look it was a small hill okay) to the bottom of the gondola and queued to get on. It was really busy, despite being winter and the view from the top being not so good. I did ask, and they reckoned the view wouldn’t be much better tomorrow. Up I went! Unfortunately it was dark by the time I reached the top. It was pretty cool (and cold!) but there wasn’t that much to see, and with it being so cold I didn’t really want to stay outside for that long. Was hoping there would be an interior viewing platform but I was wrong. I eventually headed back down. The midway station of the gondala wasn’t super exciting, a small outside area though, with some families having a snowball fight and run around, which was nice to watch.
Took the tram back to the closest stop and walked back to the hostel. Relaxed for the rest of the evening.