Saturday, March 10, 2012

Asian Invasion: Part III, Sapporo, Japan

Last stop, Sapporo, eponymous city of beer fame. We had some more stupid-Americans-with-too-much-shit exploits right off the bat. Once we arrived in downtown Sapporo, we had the option of taking the subway or the train to our hotel. I posited that the train might be nice, because the doors would probably stay open longer so we could drag all our stuff on and off easier than the subway.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly (well, smooth-ish--they didn't really have any luggage storage so we were taking up an entire corner of a car) until we reached our stop much sooner than anticipated. Our friend said, hey, no problem: each of us should just take one piece of luggage off at a time. I said nah, I can get both of mine at once. So I exit onto the platform, one other piece gets dropped off, and as I'm standing outside the train door swish shut. I see our friend desperately trying to pull them apart (he later reported that there was a sign that depicted smashed fingers and a crying face on the door, so he didn't try to stick his hands in there as they were closing) and my husband still struggling with his bags in the middle of the train car as the train starts to pull out of the station.

Extra train ride without me.

I'm stuck there on the platform with three ginormous suitcases, realizing that when they take the train back to the station, they're going to get off on the other side. I used my engineering ingenuity (i.e. brute force and some kicking) and made it downstairs to wait in the station.

Snow in the city.

By this point I really wanted to visit a yarn shop. Really, really wanted to. The copilot thought he had a lead on one from a blog post that was a few years old. So out we went.

First we got off the wrong subway stop, and started walking in the wrong direction, as one does. It was that sloppy wet kind of snow, so we were pretty much soaked after about a half an hour, and relieved to find ourselves in an outdoor shopping area with a roof.

We're pretty sure this is where the shop was supposed to be....but couldn't find it. Alas, we tried really, really hard until I was exhausted and bitchy (more than normal). It's difficult to get directions when you don't know the words or even how to describe 'knitting store'. Epic knit fail.

 We braved the public transportation yet again to get to a ski hill just outside of Sapporo called Teine. It was a short train ride and then a regular city bus. We also timed how long the train doors stood open at our original stop: 46 seconds.

Ski commute part subway.
Ski commute part bus.
We don't have anything comparable in the US that we could think of, where you could live in a large city and take a short (~30 min) trip using public transportation to a ski resort. You could tell who was going where, as the skiers were carrying all their gear. We were the only ones without our equipment in bags or covered up, so we may have been committing a public transport faux pas.

You could not only see the city:

But also the ocean.

Another powder day under our belts.

Our friend had ordered some little cards before the trip that explained his peanut allergy in Japanese--they said stuff like "Does this food have peanuts in it?", "Has this been cooked in peanut oil?", "Was this prepared in a place that also prepares peanuts?", and on the other side explained the allergy. Unfortunately it made it sound a little more dire than it actually was, saying "I will need immediate medical attention if I consume peanuts, or something that has been prepared around peanuts", which was accurate up until the last bit. It wasn't really that big of a deal as long as the food didn't actually contain peanuts.

He had fine luck with the cards until that last night, where our waitress spoke virtually no English. She took the cards to the chef and returned with only the words, "Sorry, no guarantee" and snatched up the food the waiter had brought us. Basically she was convinced that we ALL were deathly allergic to peanuts, and we all were going to need immediate medical attention if we ate something that had even touched a something that had once touched a peanut--and was hence refusing to serve any of us any food. We went across the street to a tempura place. He didn't show them his cards.

Time to go home.


  1. So I didn't know you had recently visited Hong Kong and Japan! I went back and read each of the installments. Hong Kong is definitely up there in terms of places I'd like to visit, and your quick trip looks like it was fun.

    And look at all that Sapporo snow! I'm glad you had fun, and the ramen was good. :)

  2. Sounds like an exciting adventure. I'm glad you went to Teine too as I think its probably the best local resort around Sapporo. I prefer it to Niseko actually because Niseko gets too crowded and the fresh lines are all gone by mid morning. At Teine, I can get freshies all day.