Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Hokkaido - Land of work and fun!


The north island of Japan was to be our second workaway experience in a ski resort but in the spring, so no skiing. Small cheer from me! Scott and Sanae are an Australian/Japanese couple who have several guest houses and restaurants in Niseko Hirafu, a small ski town set between two mountains. Mount Yote is called Fujisan and is the north's version of Mount Fuji. This area is one of the popular ski regions in Japan, particularly with Australians. The air is clear most of the time and it's bloody hot. We thought it would be cooler and in fact it should be. So we have been panicking about warm woollies and sock and waterproofs when we should have been bringing suntan cream and yet more insect repellent.


This work exchange is different to the last in that this is a business so six hours of hard work and a list of chores that are expected to be completed in exchange for a comfy bed and three meals a day. We work bloody hard and we are fed exceptionally well. We have crab and scallops and are introduced to some fabulous Japanese delicacies. Several mornings we have even woken up to still warm fresh made bread that Sanae has left us....absolutely delicious. As it's off season there is only us and one other worker here. Noemie is a completely bonkers young French girl who is spending three months in japan. Our evenings are spent with Scott, Sanae and Noemie, just eating, drinking, talking and laughing. 


We do get some free time and we took one half day to visit the next town along, Kutchan. We borrow a minivan from Scott but it has a flat battery so we have to jump start it and leave with Scott's words ringing in ours ears....'make sure you park on a hill'. Kutchan has absolutely nothing worth mentioning though we might have stopped and walked around had we been able to find a hill, Kutchan seems to 



be the flattest town in Hakkaido! Another morning was spent with Noemi trekking up the smaller of the two mountains (bigger one needs at least 8 hours). We get to about 1000 metres and Chris and Noemi decide they want to try to get to the top but it's still snowy and overgrown so they slide down on their arses and find me waiting, just chilling, listening to music. This gives us an idea....let's dance around like loonies with the big mountain as our backdrop and film it then post it on FB! So we did, exhilarating fun. We spent another couple of afternoons in the local hotel's pool and spa which was a well earned rest.




After 9 days we hit Sapporo and we were going to get straight down to Tokyo but there's a dance festival on, Yosakoi. It's absolutely spectacular. There are groups of dancers, upto 200 in a group, and they go through the streets performing their routines like a carnival procession with magnificently gaudy costumes and Japanese songs being performed from on top of a decorated lorry, all ending in a beautifully manicured park. This goes on for 4 days with 100s of 1,000s of people. And there's two huge areas with so much food that even we have difficulty choosing what to eat. Brilliant, glad we stopped here.

 
Now on our way to Tokyo by bus, ferry and bus via Sendai. This was at the epicentre of the earthquake a few years ago so we're not stopping as there are still radiation concerns and we've got enough problems without growing two heads or losing our hair! 
So Sayonara to Hokkaido and Konnichiwa to Tokyo and Mt Fuji. Excited about seeing this famous city!

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