03.10.2009 - 05.10.2009 18 °C
Having sampled some `interesting` (rank) Japanese bean curd/yak/what was that!? biscuits, we dived on the Metro to Shibuya! Home of the largest pedestrian crossing in the world. Every three minutes, pandemonium erupts - watching it is great, being in the middle of it is hell! As we walked around, it was clear we were underdressed - or maybe over as we actually had more than two items of clothing on. With girls in sailor suits and school uniforms - not the traditional school! To the boys in skinny tight jeans, waistcoats and huge buffons! After browsing one of the many technology shops and seeing what England is to receive (in about 5 years time!) we headed over to Shinjuku and checked out the awesome Toyko skyline from the 45th floor of the Government building - for free! Feeling shattered we headed for a bar diner and barbequed a feast but nothing compared to the monster of a meal for the sumo guy next to us! BEAST!
7.02am and on the bullet train to Lake Toya, Hokkaido (the Northern Island). 7 hours probably more like 12 on good old British Rail!... Halfway through the journey we heard the brash tones of an Aussie two rows back from us. Bob (from the gold coast) and Kumiko his Japanese wife were travelling Japan to promote her new music album and gave us some great insights as well as offering to feed us when we visit the Gold Coast in March. Wahoo! Such a lovely couple, little do they know, we will definitely be taking them up on that offer!
Three quarters of the way through the journey suddenly all the Japanese got up, pushed a button underneath their chairs and then the whole carriage was starring us in the face. It was only when the train started reversing that we realised why they had done a 180. We were facing the wrong way. The only option for lunch was from the trolly dolly on the train, a lucky dip selection of cold meat and veg, with rice of course! Looked foul but actually tasted ok, apart from `sponge bob` our enemy - a brown looking square of wet squidgey muck. Don`t do it!!! Sponge bob is top middle!!
We arrived in a chilly Toyako Onsen and managed to eventually communicate `we need somewhere to sleep arigato`. One Ryokan booking later and a few steps forward and we were ready for the firework display. Oh yes, fireworks!!! We strolled to the Lake, rolled up jeans and plunged out feet into the murky boiling water that was an Onsen! A natural hot spring - great for rejuvenating our tired feet and even better when there are free fireworks all night.
Woke up after a nice lie in and headed to Showa shinzan where we boarded the Usuzan Ropeway, a cable car up to the top of Mount Usu. Beautiful views and steaming volcanic crators lined the landscape. This active volcano erupted as recently as 2000 - so for some reason, we took a gamble and decided to walk all 2 hours around it! :-( 40 mins my a$$! After the draining hike, up and down, up and down, we utilised one of the 400,000 food vending machines and bought ourselves lunch - a box of noodles and an unknown `meat`. 4 min 10 and a `ding` later we had our hot meal. This was our attempt to get out of holiday spending mode and get into `backpacking for a year on a budget` mode - we`re still hungry!!! :-( Next, a two hour train journey to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. It was a good journey, until `Freid` the self-obssessed, nonstop jibba jabba German took a shine to us and although friendly, had a hint of Fred West about him. Creep! Although he did offer us a `place to stay` in Shanghai where he lives, and no doubt keeps his body bags! We soon left him and ran! And on exploring Sapporo later this evening, saw him again....and ran again! Safely in our Ryokan now we bid you goodnight, especially as the grumpy grandad owner is clumping about above us and hinting at us to go to bed!! I guess it is midnight after all!...