Date: Tue, 26 May 1998

Day 5 - Couldn't send email- the phone wouldn't support it. woke up again at 5:30, went back to sleep, but set the alarm for 7. When the alarm went off, I decided to let Kel sleep some more. Her fever is gone, but her throat is still sore, albeit much less so. We got dressed and I casually checked the train schedule. Waaaaaa!! The only trains to Sapporo are linked in a chain the first of which would leave in just under an hour. And the next local train was in 6 minutes. We threw our stuff together, and I went to check out while Kel finished packing. I raced back to the room and grabbed the bag and we sped up to the front and--there went the train. Kel wasn't worried, but dejectedly I meandered to the bus stop. After a few minutes, a lady from the ryokan came running up - we had left one of the stereo adapters behind. She ran all the way to the station with it. No normal human does these things. :)

At Sendai, we booked seats to Sapporo. It seems there were trains not listed in the schedule that could get us there only 1.5 hours later. Phew! We rode the shinkansen to Morioka, then another train to Aomori. We noted we had only 5 minutes to change trains, which should be plenty of time. Unless the train gets there 3.5 minutes late. We raced across the stairs and got to the train with very little time to spare. Although we got on 4 cars too early. We wandered through the cars surrounded by junior high school students shouting 'haroo' and 'naisu to meet yuu'. Finally we found our seats and we were on our way. Of course, we discovered we were sitting in a Doraemon-themed car, and many announcements were given by a 3-foot blue cat like cartoon character. Joy... We've passed through one of the longest tunnels in the world and now we're in Hokkaido. I'm considering stopping in Hakodate because this is a Very Long Train Ride. :(

Date: Thu, 28 May 1998

Day 5, part two - We got off the train in Hakodate, and since we were sick of trains, I called the Niceday Inn, a place listed in the tour book. They had rooms, so we ditched our Sapporo tickets (hey, doesn't cost us anything) and headed over. The lady (Saito-san) was very nice and showed us around the tiny inn. They even had western toilets to Kel's delight. The rooms were small with bunk beds, but the inn had everything we needed and it was cheap. We headed out using directions from Saito-san and walked down to the tourist places. They had lots of seafood shops, and above all CRABS. Mom you would have loved it. We saw a car hit this girl on a bike, but 2 minutes later, the crowd and the accident were gone.

We ate at Hakodate Beer, a local brewery. I had the Weizen, and it was terrific, albeit expensive. Kel's finally able to eat again, so she had fish and chips and weird gross menthol tea. I had this delicious potato soup with lots of seafood. We then walked around a bit and I got some barbecued squid rings - mmmm! We walked up a long hill and rode the ropeway up the top of Mt Hakodate right at sunset. The entire city was below us, and the colors of the sky were exquisite. Very beautiful. It was very romantic despite the crowds of people (but only we two westerners). We rode back down and meandered back to the hotel. Kel said 'OK, you made up for yesterday.'

Things we learned today:

1. Japanese waiters only come over when you call for them.
2. Japanese cats like squid.
3. The Japanese are heavy-duty tourists.
4. Next to a tourist attraction, there will always be a convenient gift shop, no matter how remote.
5. If you're right next to a TV broadcast tower, you can watch game shows on your camcorder.