+crowded world++japan++hokkaido++hakodate++may 17 2011

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IT had been a long day and it was still far from over, but travelling by train in Japan is rarely the ordeal it is in, say, Australia. You need only sit back and enjoy the ride. If you don't want to train it to Hokkaido, you could of course fly (the island is dotted with airports), or get a ferry. As my friend Kenichi from Tokyo Ryokan reminded me today, there are plenty of alternative routes up here. "Akita => Noshiro => Gono Line => Goshogawara => Kawabe => Aomori => Night Ferry=> Hakodate?", he suggested. If you need help planning your itinerary, click up JR Hokkaido. In the taxi up, past fields of freshly planted rice, we saw mabushi cherry blossom trees (did I spell that word right?), cliffs of lavender and grey, white boughs of birch trees, and toylike houses and barns. Kikonai. into Narita Airport from the Pacific Ocean side and look north, you can see Choshi as a point at the end of the long black beach. That long black beach is called 99 Ri Beach ("ri" being a Chinese mile)... I am not sure if it is really 99 Chinese miles long, but it is cool name nonetheless. And a famous place for surfing! ..

Yesterday we were standing in thick snow on the peak of Asahidake Mountain in Hokkaido, Japan, visibility about 1 metre, temperature about 6.5 degrees C. And this is just a few weeks away from the start of summer! Just sank a few ales and other beverages at the Hakodate Beer Museum, near the fish markets, with gulls squawking outside. Otherwise known as the Great Snow Mountain.