Spent three nights in Bihoro (on the other end of the island) and the days wandering around the national parks over there. One day was craptacular (thank you Mr. Typhoon. Although, I am actually a bit worried about friends in the Tokyo area -- not so much the visiting ones -- hey, if the typhoon delays your flight, shucks, you're still hanging out in Japan, right? -- but the ones that actually live there and have to work and such). The next day was spectacular (best weather I've seen in the five-plus weeks I've spent here), which I guess the Typhoon cleared out. Craptacular day meant the boat rides were canceled off Shiretoko Peninsula, but, well, there's still walking and driving around and stuff. And there was the nice day spent in Akan National Park. Which was great. And lots of pictures were taken. And the people I stayed with here were great. And we had fun. And I ate butter ramen (in a train station! Train stations do have the best food!) And, well, it's just all good.
So, things I learned:
No matter how much I like the trains, after nine hours (this just in: Hokkaidou is big), it does get old.
Sunday night? Leaving the big city? Last train out? Yeah, that train's gonna be packed with shoppers and whatnot. Fortunately for me, I was just early enough in line to get a window seat. The last people, well, they were standing. So, not getting the tickets ahead of time (like I'd vaguely wanted to do) didn't end up mattering.
Also, being able to read important things like 自由席 and スーパー北斗 to make sure you're in the right line in time to get a seat -- a useful skill. The English signs will keep you from getting lost, but don't always tell you the important things.
Beer on trains is good. Although not to be abused.
My belt seems to indicate that I've lost weight since I got here. I'm not sure how that's remotely possible, though, given the amount of food I've eaten.
Domo-kun is definitely having the trip I wish I was having.
Mmmm, home-made okonomiyake. Also, other things that I don't know what they were, other than yummy. Did I mention, mmmm?
Onigiri, well, not so much. The seaweed taste kills it for me, I guess. Also, usually too salty.
So, tomorrow, on to Tokyo, then back to America.
I'm going to be sad when all this is over. Actually, I'm already kinda sad. It's been a great trip.