Suzushi Hokkaido

Well, I'm back from my Hokkaido adventure. It was incredible. The coolest place in Japan during my trip was Eastern Hokkaido, so I planned it right to beat the heat. I was actually cold one day when temperatures dropped below 15 degrees Centigrade like 55 degrees Farenheit?). I'd love to show you pictures, but I'll have to do that when I get my laptop connected to the Internet again.

I'm leaving Japan on Sunday. For good. Not because I don't like it here. If you've been keeping up with my blog you'll know that I have come to respect, be fascinated by, and enjoy Japan. However, I need to use my California teaching credential or risk losing it, so that is what brings me back to the USA. So with my two days left, I am trying to juggle administrative duties and personal appointments to insure that I leave Japan with an exclamation mark!

So back to Hokkaido. I couldn't have chosen a better spot to WWOOF. The Akan Nature Center offered hot air balloon rides, canoe trips, star gazing, mountain biking, and trekking. I got to experience all of them. Mr. Yasui, sons Gaku & Ryo, staff Fukushi, Arai, and Kurokawa all became good friends. I did my best to be helpful with setting up and taking down the balloon equipment. They were impressed and grateful that I had been a canoe instructor at Camp Leelanau, so they asked me to accompany as many canoe outings as possible, river and lake. Very cool. And you know what? Canoeing lakes and rivers in Japan is the same as in the USA! I found the climate and ecology of Hokkaido to be very similar to that of Michigan, where I spent my childhood summers.

Mr. Yasui was a mountain guide in his younger years, so he knows all the secret spots. On a dark night, he took a busload of tourists to go stargazing on a lake at the foot of an active volcano. Most of the tourists were city-dwellers like me, going North to escape the heat. Considering how many Japanese I know that haven't been to Hokkaido, this was probably their first time. So imagine the wonder that filled them as they saw the Milky Way, shooting stars (nagaboshi), and constellations for the first time. The urban ceiling is hazy and floodlit with neon. I saw my first legitimate sunrise and sunsets in Hokkaido!

The trip back was very slow as I relished my memories from the North and changed trains 15 times with my Youth 18 ticket. With each passing hour Southward, the temperature got higher and the humidity thicker. Once I reached Tokyo, I knew I was back in mushi-atsui land. But I had cool memories to relax with.

Stay tuned next week for a narrated slideshow of how I spent my week in Akan National Park! Genki de!

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