Last Real Day in Japan

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Sep 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
Best Western Hotel Fino

Flag of Japan  , Hokkaido,
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I had major plans today but they didn't all transpire. 

By 10 am, I was out the door and walking toward the Old Red-Brick Government Building.  I took a few photos and found out it was in American neo-Romanesque or something that I can't quite remember now.  While I was there I was approached and took a survey on visiting on site and what I appreciated and what I lacked in tourist amenities. 

From there I headed off to the Botanical Gardens, saw a sign that said the entrance was in 120 m. but I guess I wasn't a good judge of distance because I turned off at the first gate only to find that it had a chain between me and the garden path.  So, of course, I climbed around the chain.  I first passed the marsh plants and then the trees.  There was a meadow with a lovely grove of elms on one side.  There were Latin names on the signs and English as well.  I went through the shrubs but only a few plants were blooming.   Continuing on, I saw the Northern Peoples' Ethno-botanical garden and the herbaceous garden where I took a photo of the label for the flowering shrub that I photograhed so much at Noboribetsu Onsen.  I have identified it as knotweed (hopefully the label is the right one for the sort of looks like it).  The rose garden was in bloom but not all the plants had flowers.  The next section was the Canadian rock garden.  I thought there must be some arrangement between Hokkaido University and some university in Canada.  Yes, it is the University of British Columbia.  (There was a fabulous university garden that I remember from Vancouver, BC.)   I must admit I was a bit disappointed because this garden isn't kept up completely.  There were definitely workers.  I saw their boots and equipment when I came in the wrong gate and I think I saw a circle of them lunching on the lawn.  I suspect it is a financial matter but it still was disappointing.  

The greenhouse had all the requisite areas, including some carnivorous plants.  I had almost forgotten about the heat and humidly of Kyoto and Korea, but the greenhouse and the marsh area of the outdoor garden reminded me of it.  I was dripping again.  With the greenhouse, I had explored all of the garden proper and went to check out the Museum.  There were only signs for "Museum," so I actually missed the Northern Peoples Museum but did see the "Museum and National Treasures."  This building had a fascinating collection ... unlike anything I had ever seen before.  There were Hokkaido fauna stuffed in natural positions, including several very large bears.  Then there were shelves of birds and rodents lying side by side, each type in their own separate plastic pans.  Some of the birds were wrapped around with paper... I guess to keep their wings from deteriorating.   There were snowy owls, lots of eagles, Japanese crane, egret and heron, and a trumpeter swan.  They were big birds so they were all stuffed and standing or on perches.  The owls looked almost lifelike.

It was still quite early when I left the Botanical Garden, so I thought I should easily be able to make it to the historical village but, to increase my chances of having enough time, I decided I would take a taxi.  The first taxi driver I tried didn't understand where I wanted to go.  I tried to find someone to translate but that didn't work.  Next I went to the station taxi line but the woman dispatcher said it was 40 minutes away...too far for a cab....and too expensive.  I took my map into the station to find my way by subway.  It turned out that I had to get one subway line to Odori station and switch there for another line.  By this time, I had used up nearly an hour so I decided to bag it and try to finish my shopping. 

I had a special mission, so I went to tourist info to ask where I might be able to find what I was looking for.  The young woman didn't bat an eyelash at my request and looked up which floor of a nearby department store had what I wanted.  I went there, asked and was shown the choices.  Limited, but I wasn't going to quibble at this point so I bought it.  Maybe I can find something more like what I had envisioned some other time.  I checked out the housewares, then I looked at some women's clothing because all my clothes are uninhabitable at this point.  I tried on a top.  Here I had a new cultural experience.  I was ready to get into the changing booth with my shoes but was stopped so I took them off.  Then I was given a gauze head wrapping which had a flap that went over your face.  I wasn't sure how you could determine whether you liked what you were trying on but maybe you could lift it once the garment passed over your face.  I didn't get that far because the size large seemed too snug to get over my shoulders so I didn't test it completely and gave up.  At this point, I had definitely had enough I went to the eating floor of some other store after wandering around in several difference places...and had a draft Sapporo.  It is only too easy for me to get disoriented when I am in these underground shopping malls.  (even without the beer)  At first opportunity I headed for the street and made my way back to the hotel.  It was already five so I thought I would spend some time on the computer before my last dinner in Japan.  What should I have?  Where should I go?   I am contemplating going to the hotel restaurant....what a cop-out.  Hmmm, maybe I should go back to the food court and have some of the fish-shaped waffles?

I went back to my home away from home:  the train station.  In a way, the station is too convenient and because I use it as a reference point, I am more familiar with the station and what it offers than with anything else.  I looked around the Paseo restaurant section in the basement and found a tempura place.  I had shrimp tempura plus a little bowl of sashimi over sliced daikon, some of that excellent egg custard and some pickled things and some miso soup.  So now I am full and mostly content.  However, I found out that I will need to take the JR train to the airport since there is no shuttle.  That means considerable schlepping....I guess it builds muscles....and endurance.

I don't anticipate any more happening of interest tonight and whatever happens tomorrow probably won't be very interesting so this is the official end of my travel blog for Korea and Japan.  Sayonara.  I haven't really heard anyone say that here though
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