I’ve been to Sapporo three or four or five times, depending on how you want to count visits. It’s a hard place to avoid when coming to Hokkaido. I know the station area well enough, and the layout of the city in general. But I’ve always been a poor, solitary traveler, with no guide and no money to blow. Well not this time! Last week, the Hokkaido Midyear Conference for Assistant Language Teachers took place in Sapporo on December 1st and 2nd. I took the train in early on Friday evening, and spent the weekend and into the week spending money frivolously and enjoying myself.
Two weekends ago, I had a nice visit from a good friend. Well, she wasn’t technically my friend at the time, but I don’t see how she couldn’t have eventually become so. Natsuko is from Hokkaido, born near Saroma, and grew up near Sapporo. She went to school in North Dakota with my best friend, and has visited Alaska on her own. I met her three years ago when I stopped in ND to visit, and she’s been a Facebook friend since. Facebook is designed to mirror your friends in reality, but we meet so many people once and then never again, that you end up becoming facebook friends, where you can follow along with what that other person is doing but without actually having any contact. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing overall, but in this case it was. Natsuko was coming back to Japan for a vacation and wanted to see her family up in Hokkaido. Well, sheesh, I happen to live here in Hokkaido, right where she was going to visit! We had a great weekend, discovering we had a lot in common. I grabbed her from Memanbetsu airport and drove back to Saroma via Abashiri and Tokoro, where we stopped to walk on the beach, and found an old man harvesting scallops that had been kicked up onto the beach by the waves.