Monday, July 12, 2010


When I first got to Hakodate I remember thinking that a 4-day "mid-term break" was a silly idea, after all, we're only here for 8 weeks total.

I was unmistakeably incorrect.

Hakodate is a nice town. Sapporo is a nice city. Big difference. And after all of the mountains and mountains of homework and kanji and tests it was a much welcomed change of pace. The drive there was a bit long, mainly due to our detour for a scenic trip, but incredibly gorgeous. The entire drive was a mix of being along the coastline or nestled between the mountains.

Friday night was spent exploring the city, listening to street performers, finding a nice and relatively quaint Irish pub -here is where I plug St. John's Wood if you're ever in Sapporo - to hang out in for a bit in between walking past huge depaato and covered shopping arcades.

Saturday was the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters game that we bought tickets to. It really wasn't that expensive for great seats (3rd base for 2300 yen) and it was a blast! I highly recommend seeing a baseball game if you're ever in Japan. It may seem like a stupid thing to do - why go to Japan to watch the "American pastime" - but even if you're stubborn like that or don't really like baseball, GO! From what I could tell (I admit, I basically only go to ball games at home because PNC Park is so nice. The Pirates are nothing to write home about, though I would like to get into it more. If anyone would like to treat me to tickets for the further development of my baseball education, be my guest!) the game is basically the same. The fans are where it gets ridiculous. It's almost like being at a college sporting event, with so much cheering and a mini band and noisemakers galore!

Sunday Heather, Veronica and I went and rode the amazing (though most likely intended for small children) zoo train to Asahiyama Zoo. As nice as Sapporo is it's just like any other city and I only want to spend so much time (and money) shopping and eating. The zoo train itself was pretty epic; all the cars were animal themed with animal seat covers and giant stuffed animal like seats in the back of each car! It was about an hour long, fun-filled ride (the girl dressed as a polar bear mascot was super cute. If she weren't Japanese it'd probably be creepy xD) til we reached Asahikawa, then a bus transfer and it was zoo time! Things were basically the same - we saw penguins, which were by far the best exhibit, with an underwater tunnel too, and the usual zoo animals. The most bizarre thing was the squirrel exhibit. Apparently, they're relatively rare here. In America, squirrels aren't part of the zoo, they just live there anyway. Since our sensei is originally from Asahikawa, she was nice enough to put together not just a map but a stapled packet of her hometown and so we visited her recommended ramen-ya for lunch and it was the best ramen I've ever had. No joke. Aoba, I think the place was called. And they even had us sign their little ryuugakusei guest book :D

Sunday night we just took it easy and Heather, David and I all went out for dinner and sat in the park watching the breakdancers and BMX-ers. It was so lively there, even at 1am. I have to say, I miss running about the city like that, going to Mt. Washington in the dead of night just to see the view of the city...

And Monday I spent the bus ride home reading almost the entire first book of Nana in Japanese! It's kind of disheartening, seeing as I can normally read a novel in about 3 hours if given the time, but to go through a manga in over 6 or 7 hours because I have to constantly look up words in every sentence. This was such a feeling of accomplishment. And now I have the other 20 books to read :D (20+ manga only cost me a total of $15. Win).

And last but not least, our Tanabata tree :D

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