Yes that's right, Sapporo trip is in full swing! We arrived on tuesday afternoon and immediately hit up a ramen shop. So much delicious thick miso broth and chashu @_@. After nearly passing out in the hotel (hellllo jet lag) we took the subway to Shiroi Koibito Park (shiroi = white. koibito = lovers)! It's basically a chocolate factory in which they make famous white chocolate cookies, and it's surrounded by cute flower gardens and mini houses. The place was filled with couples, middle-aged Chinese tour groups, and us. We grabbed some ice cream and planted ourselves at a table, soaking in the afternoon sun. Afterwards we walked around Tanokikuji (a super long shopping strip) and found a cute little yakitori place at the end. The lighting was moody and it was warm and lively. Our waiter was really nice and helped to explain all the different sake to us. The sake was good! I really appreciated the fact that it was weaker than the stuff you find in the states cuz then you can drink a small glass of it comfortably with your meal instead of knocking back shots. Sophie and I were glowing (red) by the end of our delicious meal and we happily wandered back to the hotel. Afterwards we came out and walked around Susukino for a bit. It really is the red light district...escorts standing on street corners wearing fishnets and high heels underneath gigantic coats. Storefronts plastered with provocative pictures of different women. Bars filled with playboy-style bunny-girls. The whole place swarming with Salarymen. We walked, basking in the bright lights while people watching (okay, bordering on rudely staring). Eventually we wandered to Odori Park where we sat on a bench and watched skateboarders zip around doing tricks. (literally the place converted to a skatepark after dark.) Some people across the grass from us were bboying and taking turns busting tricks. So relaxing.
Day 2: After a delicious seafood brunch at a cute place in Nijo Market (a block of fish markets), we went to Maruyama park and Hokkaido Jingu! The shrine was beautiful and its facade reminded me of two samurai swords. We washed our hands and drank from the fountain (wash left, wash right, drink, wash left again, rinse handle), prayed, and Sophie bought a good luck charm. We wandered to the forest trail which was beautiful with its tall and extremely straight pine trees. While on our way out, I spotted an awesome huge tree and went to go take a picture of it. When I got closer, I noticed there was an old man sitting there with a camera. I took my picture, and right as I was turning around, he gestured for me to come over. He pointed to some chipmunks he had been photographing and started speaking to me in rapid Japanese. I had trouble understanding him completely, but from what I gathered, he was telling me about how he comes here often. In the winter, the animals are not around, but in the spring and autumn they are lively and he brings them sunflower seeds. Then we stood for a bit in silence. I walked away feeling really calm with a clear mind. What an encounter.
Later we walked back to Odori park where we strolled as I ate a delicious red bean popsicle. That night we went to Ramen Yokocho (a little alleyway crammed with ramen shops) and ate at a cute little shop owned by an old man (theme of the day). We played some DDR at an arcade and took purikura (actually super stressful). Afterwards we hit up a karaoke place and sang random-ass songs for two hours before venturing into 500 bar (a place where all drinks are 500 yen (original name, I know)). The bartenders were p cute, and when I asked one of them if there was anything going on on a wednesday night, he went out of his way to check stuff on his phone and help us out. That seems to be a very common thing to do here. Whenever you ask someone a question, they try to answer it, no matter how inconvenient it is. I asked an arcade employee for directions and he literally walked us outside and down the street to point us in the right direction. A student also tried to walk us somewhere, but I told him it was alright. People really think hard about your questions instead of simply dismissing them when they don't know the answer right away. It's really touched me and made me rethink the way I respond to other people when they ask me things. Maybe it's because we're tourists, or maybe I'm over hyping it, but it's something that's really struck me in my mere three days here.
Anyway, eventually we left the bar (bartender walked us to the door and waved as we left) and wandered the streets looking for Club Booty (lmao the name. Can't get over it) We found it, and unfortunately it was closed on weekdays, but we decided to take a celebratory selfie for having finally located it. As we were putting away our phones, a middle-aged dude crossed the street and started firing off in rapid speech. All I caught was "I'm getting a good vibe from you guys" and "won't you please come and have a drink with me?" all super formal. He even clapped his hands in prayer and bowed. I was startled (and slightly creeped out) but managed to quickly tell him (Sophie says I did it too fluently) that we didn't speak Japanese. Later on some other guy caught up to us while we were walking and also asked us to have a drink with him and ALSO did the hand-clap-prayer-bow. I was so amused that people (sample size 2) in Japan are so courteous and formal when picking up girls. I wonder if that's a widespread thing here? Maybe I will find out over the course of the summer. ;)
Today (I guess technically yesterday since it's 5 am right now...) we went to a place called Ebiten for lunch and had a really amazing meal of tempura + a billion side dishes. Then we walked to Sapporo Beer Museum and tasted three different beers. One was their black label (hands down favorite of the three), one was original recipe, and the third a locally brewed hokkaido beer. Then we went to Sapporo Factory, a p big mall. Casually shopped for a little bit before going back to Tanokikuji and wasted (invested??) $10 on pachinko. We were such noobs and I really am not sure I totally understood it by the time we finished up our 1300 pachinko balls. Either way, definitely an experience. Side story: I switched machines halfway through and left my phone at the old one (literally two feet away from me). When I realized I didn't have my phone I was frantically searching through my bag, when another gambler got up, walked across the way to pick up my phone and hand it to me, I 1. felt stupid. 2. was surprised by his kindness. 3. In retrospect...was he watching us? The place was loud and he wasn't sitting close by...errr either way, it was really nice of him (and stupid of me). I walked out of the pachinko place feeling like a zombie. I don't understand how people just sit there and do it for hours and hours! After dinner, we walked around some more and came back to the hotel where I accidentally crashed.
YES finally finished...I definitely wrote too much. Gonna caption this shit and go to sleep pronto! Tomorrow we head to Lake Shikotsu, where we will be staying at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn with a hot spring!) So exciteedddd~~~
|The journey never has to stop (poster in our Tokyo hotel). Our first meal in Japan! Fast food at a place called Sukiya lol. modeling aloe yogurt and cute rilakuma orange juice while waiting for our flight to Sapporo. Cool sculpture in Vancouver.|
|Heaven, 'nuff said.|
|Shiroi Koibito Park! Green tea and red bean topped vanilla sundae <3 little houses + lots of beautiful flowers.|
|Random Mona Lisa on the street (sophie was very amused by the photo). "we charge 300 yen for service and cabbage." Sake and sashimi! The different kinds of fish listed above the counter. Squid and chicken.|
|Maruyama park and Hokkaido Jingu! So beautiful~|
|The old man with the camera|
|Going out! Red bean ice pop. dranks. mop suit with a mop hat. Selfies in ramen yokocho. dranks again. Outside of (closed) Booty! Washing hands. Ramen Yokoschoooooo.|
|At Sapporo Beer museum - I thought this wall of old beer advertisements was absolute gold. I mean come on, beautiful traditionally dressed Japanese women, smiling serenely among a sea of beer bottles? So great.|
|Looking tired after our pachinko endeavors. Selfies in Tanokikuji. Outside of yakitori shop. Excellent advertisement for Corona..."Connect without WI-FI" damn really selling it. And last but not least, a big cracked egg.|