Friday, 22 April 2016

A bus, a very big lake and a very bad smell.

Another day in another place.


Today we are leaving Japan and I am a little sad.  I do not think I will ever be here again.  Mme tells me to cheer up and she said leaving Japan is not the end of the world.  I know about the end of the world now and I am not worried.

Today, my very last day in Japan, was filled with new adventures.

Mme bought a bus ticket at the bus ticket office on Our Ship and early this morning we sat on the bus along with many other people from Our Ship and it took us far away from the port of Kushiro  to the mountains and the famous thermal lake.

I sat in the seat beside Mme, in the outside of the backpack and I looked out the bus window when Mme lifted me out of the backpack net. Homer-san stood at the front of the bus and told us many interesting facts about the world passing by the bus windows. It was very difficult to remember all his facts but I will tell you my facts.

My facts are stop facts.  A stop is a place where all the people leave the bus and do special things. Our first stop was a place where people could buy some food, visit the rest rooms and walk about and look at bridges and trees and buildings.  Mme looked at bridges and trees and buildings and I looked at them too.  I want to see everything. At this stop Mme asked Homer-san a question about the roofs on the houses.  I did not understand anything about this conversation.  Homer-san understood and he answered the question.

The bridge at our first stop.  We did not walk on this bridge.

The very best part of the day for this loyal, hard-working little Japanese dog, was the stop at Lake Mashu.  Everything was beautiful.  The sky was a beautiful blue. The far away mountain ranges with snow on the tops were beautiful. And Lake Mashu was very calm and very beautiful.  There were no very high buildings and today I think Lake Mashu is the most beautiful place in all of Japan.

Lake Mashu

Mt Iwo was the place of very bad smells. It is a real volcano.  There are many real volcanoes in Japan. Mt Iwo is not beautiful like the mountains around Lake Mashu.  There is a very bad smell which is the sulphur and lots of smelly steam which looks like smoke.  On the ground  there are very bright yellow patches of sulphur and there is a fence to keep people out and many signs telling people not to pass beyond the fence.  Mme sat me on the ground.  I was very frightened and I was very happy when she picked me up and put me back in my place in the backpack.

Sitting on the safe side of the fence at Mt Iwo.

Nearby was the meal stop at Kawayu.  There is a foot onsen at Kawayu and after the bus people ate their meal everyone sat in the bus and the driver took the bus on a short drive to the foot onsen.  All the bus people removed their shoes and socks, sat on the edge of the pool and put their feet in the water.  The water is very hot and people's legs were very pink when they lifted their feet out of the pool.

The water for the foot onsen comes from beneath the rocks. The water is very hot in this part of the onsen.  Look closely at the lady in the top of the photo,  the water is so hot she wants to lift her feet out immediately. 

I was a very tired, little dog after all the exciting stops and I fell asleep on the way back to Our Ship and I did not wake up until we were in our room.

Our Ship is leaving Kushiro and I will not see Japan again.

I sat on my window ledge and watched as Our Ship left Kushiro port.  I was very brave and did not cry, even though I was a very sad little Japanese dog because I was leaving my country.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Hakodate and very high places.

Another day in another place.


Mme was right. The world did not end last night.    Mme likes to play tricks on me but the end of the world is a bad, bad trick to play on a trusting, loyal, little Japanese dog.

This morning we went out onto the deck as we arrived in Hakodate port and saw the hardworking, sturdy tugs that help Our Ship into the dock.  A bus was waiting to take us into the JR station and Mme stuffed me into her back pack and we went down to the lower deck and onto the dock, where Miss Julie and Miss Pam were waiting.

Sakura - a hard working tug.

Outside the Hakodate JR Station, Mme, Miss Julie and Miss Pam were greeted by two of the  Japanese school girls who waited to meet the passengers from Our Ship.  Two of the girls, Hinaro and Yuki,  walked with us to a cafe where we had breakfast.  They told us about their school and their families.  They are from wealthy families and their fathers are professional people.

And a man from the TV studio filmed our group.  It was very exciting although I could not see very well as I was sitting in the outside of the back pack.  I may be seen on Japanese television tonight.  I may be a TV star.  (Mme says no.  I was in the wrong place for the camera. Oh, now I am very disappointed.) When we left the TV man and his very big camera, it was time for breakfast and then a walk around the Fish Market.

Mme is checking her email at a special place in the Fish Market.  I am in the backpack at her feet.  Can you see me?

We visited two very high places today.

The famous fort and the trees without blossom

We can see a long, long way to the mountains with snow on the tops.  Can you see Our Ship?.  

 A bus outside the JR Station took us to the very high tower in the Goryokaku Park. Goryokaku Tower is a very, very high and we travelled at great speed in the elevator to the top.We could see such a long, long way in the distance, as well as down to the ground.  I am not so nervous now, when I look down to the ground way, way below. Now I know I cannot fall through the glass.

Down on the ground there is a  moat; in the days of the past this was a fort.  It was to keep out the gaijin, the Western men on ships, who were to bring many, many changes to Japan.  The fort did not work well. The Western men on their ships had new ideas for Japan and many changes happened at that time.  Now Goryokaku is a beautiful park with cherry blossom which we will not see.  We are too early.

Today I learned that it is possible to see a long, long way and I can be outside in a very high place. I do not have to be in a very high building.  It is wonderful to be outside, in the sunshine and looking far into the distance.  

The second very high place was a long way from Goryokaku.  We made two bus rides to reach this high place at the top of Mt Hakodate.  It was very exciting.  When we left the second bus we went to the rope-way station and walked into a big cabin. The doors closed and the cabin took us to the top of the mountain. It is very much like an elevator, but it is not inside a building, and you can look down and see the very small rope-way station below and the sea on both sides of the city and the Goryokaku Tower far, far away and Our Ship at the dock.  Our Ship was so far away I worried we would not get back in time before it left, but Mme told me everything was under control.

There was time to see other places while we waited for the bus and Mme and Miss Julie decided to find a cup of coffee - they say bad things about Japanese coffee - and they found the Russian Tea-house.  A Tea-house which has coffee. Mme and Miss Julie were very, very surprised to find the lady at the Russian Tea-house made very good coffee.

We all sat at the back of the Tea-house and Mme checked her email and I made two new friends. Proper Japanese dogs with pointy dog ears.  My ears are not proper Japanese dog ears.  They are very long and no matter how hard I try, I cannot make them stand up.

Sitting on the window ledge in the tea-house with my new friends.

We waited by a sign for the bus to take us back to Our Ship and an American lady and and an American man came along and asked Mme how much money was needed for the bus fare. The American lady saw me in Mme's backpack and asked was I a mascot.  I am not a mascot.  I am a very hard working, very loyal, little Japanese dog.  

We all travelled back to the JR Station in the bus and then Miss Julie was very helpful and offered to take some Japanese money out of the machine  and exchange it for some American money for our new friends.  I do not understand money at all.  Mme says I do not have to think about money, she is the one who thinks about the money. I just have to watch very carefully and be sure no-one steals her money.

I have had such an exciting day.  I have been to very high places and I have found new friends.  I am a very lucky little Japanese dog.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Otaru and Sapporo

Another day in another place.


We were up very early this morning and standing out on the Promenade Deck watching as Otaru came into view.

Mme is excited and nostalgic about visiting Otaru. She first came here in 1972 (such a long time ago - she is very, very old) to see the Winter Olympics which were held in Sapporo, Japan.  Mme and five other Australian people stayed in a ryokan  in Otaru and took the train each day to Sapporo and then to an Olympic event.  It was a very important time for Japan, it was our very first Winter Olympics.

Today I travelled around  in the Capacious Black Bag, it is very dark and cramped but I could hear every word people say.  It is a long walk to the JR Station, along the way we walked past the steam clock, I could hear it whistle.

The Otaru Steam Clock - you cannot hear the sound in a photo but you can see the steam.

I could also hear the words Mme used when she found there was no one at the ticket office and she had to buy a train ticket at one of those (Sailor Words) vending machines.  We were on the train for less than one hour and I had one quick look out the window. There was snow on the mountains and many trees and many, many buildings.  Mme showed me the overpass she walked on one day in 1972 when a landslide blocked the train line and she had to take the bus to Otaru.  It was quite an adventure and I will ask her to tell me the big story one day when we are home in Australia.

The sun was shining in Sapporo and the very high building was just near the train station.  Mme spoke to some people from Our Ship and we walked about to find the door to the very high building. First we found the back door and then we found the elevator.

And then we found the restaurant and the man in charge of the restaurant showed  us to our very own table where we could look out the window towards the mountains and then down a long, long way to the streets below.

This is the view from our table.  Mme says there is a ski jump in the distance.  Can you see it?

And now we have a view of one of the very big streets in Sapporo.  And we are still sitting at the very same table!

Another new experience today for this little Japanese dog.  It was very exciting. The restaurant in the very high building is a revolving restaurant.  It turns very slowly in a circle.  I could not see it move at all at first but I kept watching another very high building outside and in the time Mme eats her meal it moves to a different place in the window.

How does this happen?

This is the hotel with the revolving restaurant - look up. It is the round section at the very top.

We could not spend any time looking about Sapporo as we had to be back on Our Ship by 5.30 pm or we would be left behind.  Mme had a plan if we were too late for the ship, but today she did not want to put it into practice.

Before we left Otaru railway station Mme took a photo.  She says it looks the same as it did in 1972. Is this possible?

On the way to Our Ship from the JR Station in Otaru, we walked down to the canal, greeted a pair of school-girls, Mme took a photo of an old man sketching alongside the canal and we walked over the very long, orange bridge and back to the dockside.  It was a long, long way.

The old man sketching along side the canal.  The seagull on the wall is watching him very, very closely.

The very long, orange bridge

Tomono Kawamura, Japanese concert pianist, is playing in the Frans Hals Lounge tonight.  I hinted to Mme that I would like to listen to her music but Mme told me we must have an early night as there is another full day of sight seeing in Hakodate tomorrow.

 I was very disappointed to miss the concert. My disappointment has made me not-so-very excited about visiting the port of Hakodate tomorrow.

Mme tells me to cheer up.  Missing the concert, she says, is not the end of the world.

The end of the world.  How terrible.  I won't sleep at all tonight, I need to be very ready to face such a terrible catastrophe.

I am very, very worried.