John & Hiromi's Virtual Vacation to Hokkaido
Day 11th - September 6th, 2001
Day 10 Day 12

4 AM Final Pictures go up tomorrow! This message is going to arrive a little later than usual! And the pictures for yesterday and today won't be posted until tomorrow morning here, tomorrow evening in the USA. Why? Because we are in the final stages of vacationitis, where you sleep in the car, eat frozen cheeseburgers nuked at Family Mart, and drive like maniacs. We would stop for an onsen ("We brake for Onsens"), but we're not likely to find one, so we're putting the pedal to the metal, rollin' South to Fujisawa. Our plan is to cut through Chiba, and take a short ferry ride from Chiba ken to Kanagawa ken, and then on home. (A "Shi" is a city, a "ken" is a prefecture, like a state). We will be going down the coast line through the Kanto Plain, so there may be some good pictures. I took some good ones yesterday, but you won't see them until tomorrow.
There are about 85 pictures up so far, so if all you are seeing is one or are missing the boat! We didn't miss the boat...we are currently aboard the Ferry Victus Hakodate, and it is rough outside! This is a little ship, and most of the cargo is trucks hauling cattle. So, in addition to the rock and roll of the ocean, there is a faint hint of the "toro fecundo", if you gather my drift...
We awoke on the side of the road this morning, having spent the night in the car. We couldn't find a hotel that was mid-range. Only dumpy ones and very expensive ones! We are now enroute to Sendai City, wishing we could find an onsen so as to perform our morning ablutions If not, we'll just tell folks we were held hostage by terrorists!
You can find vending machines for EVERYTHING in Japan!! Bags of rice, (our staple food), cans of beer, bottles of whiskey, and even hamburgers and French fries...right out of a vending machine! But you cannot find a vending machine that will sell you a candy bar! No one seems to know why. You can buy all the candy you want at convenience and grocery stores, but not in vending machines!
Right now you are probably saying, "OK, John, that's all well and good, but how about your encounter with the bears?" As you know, we searched high and low for the elusive Hokkaido bear, Finally, our search paid off:
Now, you are probably saying, "You can't fool me...them are cows!" Well, I agree that they certainly LOOK like cows, however, looks can be deceiving! These are the very rare "Ursa Bovinus Carnivorus", and they are especially dangerous, preparing for their winter's hibernation. They are ferocious, ripping and savaging their prey without mercy. Sometimes they disguise themselves as stockbrokers. (Hi, Bruce H!)
We were so fortunate to find them in their natural habitat and grab this rare photo before they caught our scent, which, by the way, is becoming pretty bad, Where is that onsen?
My job, in the car, is to navigate. What a joke! The map looks like a plate of spaghetti, the names of the towns are all alike, (gawa, kawa, hama, yama, moto, etc.) All of these names are interchangeable, and mean the same thing: "You are lost, gai-jin!" Hiromi to the rescue, she can make sense where there seems to be no sense, wreaking order out of chaos, and we continue to find our way around this beautiful country! (Kawa and Gawa mean, "river". Yama means "mountain". Tako means, "octopus", etc.).
I am enrolled in Japanese language school, and my goal is to be able to speak to groups of Japanese within two more years, a total of three years...We moved here on September 15, 2000, so we are approaching our first anniversary in Japan a week from Saturday! Another big anniversary is: Hiromi and I met on September 9, 1993. She had come to Tulsa to attend Rhema Bible Training Center, and called Advantage Apartment Locating to get help in finding an apartment! What a "full-service" company!!

Arrived at Kuji

Rice fields are everywhere
Amber creek with bridge
Looking for Amber!
Insects trapped in Amber
Amber cross at museum
Amber ladies, Kajiya-san(Left) and Kanuka-san
Beautiful Flowers
Now about Kuji and the quest for amber: We arrived yesterday morning, early, after a rough night on the Tomakomai-Hachinohe ferry. Don't you wish you had gotten down the old dusty atlas, like I suggested two weeks ago? Hiromi had been a little seasick, but, like the trooper she is, she drove from Hachinohe ("Eight Doors") to Kuji ("Killer Cows"), and located the Amber museum. Very fascinating. We toured the museum and the amber mine. We also visited the Lithuanian sister city office just across the street from the amber museum. The best amber in the world is supposed to come from the Baltics, and the VERY best in the world is supposed to come from Kaliningrad, which is, coincidentally, where Geof and Jan J. have been going, ministering to orphanages there. We had hoped to find amber on the beaches of Kuji, but no such luck. We did get some from the museum, and yes, they know all about it! We have receipts! Hiromi got a new little ring for an anniversary present! Picture tomorrow!
Driving south in Iwate Prefecture
Koizumi-san(current prime minister) sand sculpture
Pacific Coastline
Tiny island
I am watching a Japanese sunrise at this moment, and Hiromi is getting some pictures to send you. We still believe, pray, and hope you will join us in believing that, "The Sun of Righteousness is Rising with Healing in His Wings...over the Land of the Rising Sun!"(See Malachi 4:2) We love to vacation, and believe that it makes us more productive, but our main occupation is to tell Japan about Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness.
We may make it back to Fujisawa by tonight, if not, by early tomorrow we should be back home. Lots of new pictures tomorrow, hope you enjoy them! Thanks again for joining us on this virtual vacation...we hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have enjoyed having you come with us! Please sign our guestbook on the web-site.
Love, John and Hiromi (Happy to be headed home)


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