John & Hiromi's Virtual Vacation to Hokkaido
Day 7th - September 2nd, 2001
Day 6 Day 8

Driving around Asahikawa

Hey, Everyone! Did you ever wake up suddenly and imagine that you were stranded somewhere on an island in the North Pacific? That happens to me every day! Today I woke up in Asahikawa. Before church, we found a garage sale. Lots of oriental stuff, strangely enough! Hiromi spent our life savings on some kind of stuff.
Hunting for a church in Hokkaido is not easy. We found a nice one, though, and enjoyed the fellowship. Yum-yum was a big "hit" with the folks, and was a real ice-breaker. I think the bird may have a call on his life! Shades of Lucy Ryell!!

Grace Christ Church, Asahikawa

The rolling slum
On the way to Shiretoko
After lunch of something and rice, we took off for the Shiretoko Peninsula. The weather was a bit chilly. The mountains had lots of fog, and we got a few sprinkles of rain. Hiromi drove like a bat out of...well, a bat in a hurry. She was beginning to believe that we didn't have enough time left to see the Shiretoko. Part of her reasoning was that I wanted to stop every time I saw an ice cream stand! The last one I went into was playing a Leon Russell tune, "Tightrope" and I thought how small the world was...I went to high school at Tulsa Rogers with him. 

We drive on the left

Farm country

Mountains that touch the sky

Rivers abound
The deeper we got into Hokkaido, the better the scenery got, but in some places I had the distinct feeling that I was in a remake of the movie, "Deliverance".  I saw a guy that looked like Ned Beatty. And the souvenir stands all have the same junk at the same unbelievably high prices, just like Arkansas. One place had a stuffed wolf that they priced the equivalent of around $12,000.00. I wouldn't pay that kind of money for a live wolf that could sing and dance the "Fandango". (It has been a long time since I danced the "Fandango"!)

No trash or beer cans!

Happy Hokkaido!
Fox farm
High prices, full service!

Village homes

Yum-Yum likes Hokkaido

Finally, we arrived at the edge of the Shiretoko Peninsula, and are now staying in an "onsen" Hotel. The town name is Shari-cho, and the onsen is great, although old. The onsen is a hot mineral bath...very popular in Japan, as it was in Oklahoma and surrounding areas just a few years ago. (There is a "ghost town" named "Bromide" in Oklahoma where you can still find pieces of the tile floors that were there. Trainloads of people came from everywhere, especially Texas.) The bath in Japan is a ritual, and Gai-jin, such as myself, are usually "tolerated", but an American in this little burg is such an oddity that the teenagers all wanted to take a "stab" at talking to me. I am used to being "different", and really love it when I am able to get a conversation started with the natives. If Shari-cho is this cold on September 2, I can't even imagine how cold it must be in the dead of Winter! Tomorrow is the big day: we take on the Shiretoko! I sure hope you have a map, because it is just an amazing place to visit. We are so glad you could come with us. We hope you like the pix, today. Sign the guestbook and send us some e-mail! It was great to talk to Steve Alley on the phone this morning. See you tomorrow! Love, John and Hiromi (and poor, little, tired Yum-Yum!)


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