Daisetsuzan: 'Rooftop' of Hokkaido
Trip Start Mar 22, 2009
43Trip End May 03, 2009
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Then a fruit\yogurt table with canned fruit and corn flakes and cocoa crispies. Then the 'western' (read non-Japanese) table with fried fish, runny eggs (because you cannot fully cook an egg here in Japan), ham, Chinese vermicelli, stir fry.
And I tried a bit of it all and can say they really don't mix together as well as I think the staff hoped they did
The bus to Asahidake Onsen, one of the gateways to Daisetsuzan park was long but had an intersting approach. Like Sapporo, Asahikawa (which incidentally has tons of neon and the people walk around like they're in a real city) sits on a plain, surrounded by crop land. And the bus is tracking along heading towards the mountains in the distance that basically randomly erupt from the ground. Arrived to sunny, warm weather (thankfully) and went to the Visitors center to see about some hiking. They nixed my idea of hiking to Tenninkyo Onsen nearby (avalanches apparently...) so I went up in the cable car to Mt. Asahidake, the tallest in the region, and snow shoed a bit up there around steaming sulphur vents and hiked down the slope. The down bit had a dicey few moments when I decided to not follow the ski slope down and instead some snow shoe tracks I saw. When will I learn to stop following tourists? Ended up on a promontory with nice views but difficulty getting down from--45 degree slopes on both sides into valleys, where the ski paths were. And snow shoes not really built to descend, climb that type of incline. I basically had to slide down on my ass, in a split position to increase surface area and slow down, through the trees. Keeping one leg in front to try to catch the trees before I whizzed down into what could be a cravasse hidden by snow for all I know, I spent a good 15 minutes fearing I'd turn up as a frozen corpse come the Spring melt
After that it was still early and sunny so cross country hiked around the local swamps, which was nice, but not really that interesting. The thing about walking is that it's not a task that takes your attention. I like cooking becuase you have a task and it forced out the stray thoughts. But walking is mindless and my head doesn't stop, so you're replaying all the weird things you come across, the opportunities you didn't take, the failures you could've prevented (lab included). And I was pretty down; maybe the most depressed I've been on this trip so far; I incipient snow wasn't helping.
But it got better once I got back to the hostel and spend a glorious hour in the outdoor bath (rotemburo) which is from a volcanic spring. The pool is really rustic, formed by basically boulders which makes it difficult to get a good seat. I've got lots of interesting scratches to prove this. But the water was warm, hot even, and the snow on my shoulders was super relaxing, and had conversation with more Australians (apparently, they love to come over on work visas and instruct at ski resorts).
Dinner was sad affair of 100 yen ramen and miso soup--at the same table where everyone else had ordered dinner and had this elaborate multi course Japanese meal. But I did try some nigori sake I bought from Takayama during the festival. It was definitely interesting--the taste was great--sweet and smooth, but the texture of the rice was totally unexpected. Really thick and coated...I don't think nigori is for me.
Some TV, some more conversation with other tourists and it's an early night. Since I got in the snow shoeing my legs are tired, I'm back to Sapporo and Otaru tomorrow.