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Saturday, April 9, 2016

2016 JAPAN SAKURA ADVENTURE: Day 14--Sapporo and Asahikawa

I came for the cherry blossoms and saw snow, lots.  Of course, there would be no Sakura on Hokkaido this early in the season, but I hardly expected to still see snow piled 15 feet high in April.


Breakfast at Toyoko Inn is about as modest as you can get in a Japanese hotel:


I had a whole day to do nothing, and the Tourist Information Desk said it was going to rain today, so I thought I'd just ride the train and see the snow.  For no reason other than it was a little more than an hour away, I decided to visit Asahikawa.  Sure, I had breakfast, but my train meal nevertheless:


I arrived at Asahikawa and had half an hour to do something.  So I went to the information desk and asked if there was a bus to Utashinai, the home of my father's father.  After much scurrying around, it turned out that Utashinai was around ten miles from Takikawa, about halfway between Sapporo and Asahikawa.  The agent gave me a bus schedule.  About $15 to get to Utashinai and back.  So, I decided, tomorrow, I'll go back to my most significant roots link.  About a decade ago, Pearl and I visited their City Office and collected a lot of useful data about Kenjiro Takahashi.  Utashinai was once a coal city, but is now into skiing and wine.

After returning to Sapporto, it was actually sunny, so I walked to something called Clock Tower, the symbol of Sapporo.


A block away is Odori Park, the outdoor mall where the Ice Festival sculptures are annually exhibited in February.

 I spend a good part of my travel day making two major decisions:  to eat my dinner in a restaurant, or in my room.  Then, if in my room, what to get.  I began in the basement of Daimaru at Sapporo Station and saw this:


What colorful scallops???  However, I selected a large plate of sashimi for $6, some fancy rice duo and potato soup, which I had with a beer, sake and hot ume tea:


So tomorrow, I'm off to visit Utashinai, from where came my grandfather who left for America around 125 years ago.  The forecast:  SNOW!!!

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