On to Niseko
Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
70Trip End Mar 17, 2013
I got up very early, had breakfast accompanied by the same easy-listening jazz soundtrack that the hotel plays every morning for one last time, checked out and said goodbye to the woman who had been such a big help in navigating Sapporo and the Snow Festival and in buying a new suitcase. I had to catch a taxi to another hotel to catch my bus to Niseko, one of the more popular ski areas in Japan among Australians. It's an almost three-hour trip.
The bus stopped at the Hirafu parking lot. I got off and found someone from the tour company I had used to book my hotel and the transfers. He took me to my hotel. It was too early to check in so I left my bags in the lobby and went to look at rental skis.
The skis available in the rental shops in Niseko are much better than anything available in Shiga-Kogen or Yabuli. The staff all spoke English and were mostly Australians and New Zealanders. They did a proper job of adjusting the bindings, unlike what was done at Yabuli, which included asking my weight and ability, as it should. They had a scale so I hopped on to get an up-to-date number and found I'd lost eight pounds on this trip.
I took my boots back to the hotel, found their ski locker room (something missing in Yabuli) and left my boots in my locker. I chatted with some people I met in the ski locker room and they recommended a restaurant called Soup Curry. While that doesn't sound particularly Japanese, it is. Or at least it's a Hokkaido dish. There were also many soup curry restaurants in Sapporo, including one I had tried. It was too early for dinner but I still had some time to kill before I could check in so I headed to Soup Curry.
The Japanese don't seem to like spicy food. Soup Curry had a one to twenty spiciness scale for their soup curry. I tried to order something like a 12 and the server told me that I didn't want that. She recommended a two or a three. I finally got her to agree to take an order for an eight. When the soup came it was, as expected, not very spicy. Maybe next time I'll be able to convince here to take an order for a 12.
I walked back to the hotel. It was late enough that I could check in. I went to my room and settled in.
My trip is over half over and I've completed most of the difficult connections. I have a flight back to Tokyo and a flight home but, otherwise, I'll be traveling by train within Japan. I have an empty suitcase with a broken handle that I'm hoping to pack full of cold-weather gear and ship home from either the Sapporo or the Tokyo airport so I won't have as much to lug around. I have a few restaurant, show and tour reservations but nothing that should be difficult to make. The rest of the trip should be easier than the first half has been.