Sunday, September 26, 2004

Journey to 北の国 (kita no kuni = North Country) Chapter One: Crossing the Strait

This week I took Friday off in order to link Thursday’s national holiday with the weekend and thereby enjoy a four-day stint in Hokkaido visiting Yuko and my future in-laws. Since I live in Kazamaura the Oma ferry terminal at the northern tip of Honshu is only a ten minute drive away, and an hour-and-forty-minute, ¥1,170 ferry ride lands me in Hakodate, Hokkaido. This makes Hakodate the closest real city to my village in Shimokita: closer even than Aomori City or Hachinohe. However, it’s not always as convenient to visit, since the ferries only make two to four roundtrips a day, depending on the season.

This photo of me napping on the ferry illustrates two facets of my re-Japanification. The first is the unofficial junior high teachers’ uniform I am wearing: sweatpants with a collared sweatshirt. The second (look closely) is my pair of toe-socks.

The return journey was on Sunday evening, and consequently the ferry was a little more crowded than on my first crossing. This picture gives one a good idea of what a Japanese ferry is like: kind of similar to nineteenth-century Chinese inns with communal sleeping platforms, only cleaner. Not that I speak from first hand experience or anything.