In need of a Sunday

Trip Start Sep 08, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Japan  , Hokkaido,
Friday, October 15, 2010

We're both pretty shattered now, especially Beth who is really feeling it. We've been pushing ourselves really hard - we've not had a day off for five weeks, not enjoyed a day of rest, not had a lazy Sunday. By this stage, moving any distance with the backpacks on really drains the last of the energies. But we're really pleased to be out in the countryside again, away from the cities and the big towns and are looking forward to a few days relaxing in the fresh air. Having found a great, friendly hostel in Sapporo with free internet and very cosy bedding we were hoping to stay for another day and finally have that much needed Sunday (-what day is it anyway?) but unfortunately because it is off-season the owners were taking a few days break themselves and the hostel closed the day after we arrived.
So it was not to be but we are heading towards a spa village up in the mountains with hot springs and autumnal colours so should just about manage to unwind. That is, if the active volcano in the area doesn't decide to blow.

The landscape is quite different here from the high intensity of southern (an much of) Honshu. There is greater space and the fields have begun to take on a more familiar scale. Around Hakodate the soil was of an incredible rich darkness - Guinness black - exposed where the plough had recently passed. The houses and farmsteads are also more sparsely distributed and there is a clear Russian influence to the double-pitched roofs of some of the barns. And the people seem more relaxed too. Softer, quieter and more laid back. A feeling that they will be quite happy in their winter snow-covered seclusion but equally happy to have a chat before the first snow falls. These people seem like they know the taste of mud and the national OCD is less pervasive here which makes me feel less cumbersome and clumsy, less out of place and more like myself.

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