Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hokkaido

Kussharo
Lake Kussharo


As I previously wrote, we left on a trip to Hokkaido a few weeks ago. But the droves of pictures I took combined with a somewhat busy schedule at work has put off posting about the trip until now.

I'm going to split this up into a few parts since the trip really was thematically different; in the grand holiday traditions of this country we did not go to just one place. We went to Abashiri on the northern coast where we stayed for two nights - in two different hotels, no less - followed by two nights in a youth hostel in Akan national park.

So, why would you go to northern Hokkaido in mid-winter rather than, say, balmy Okinawa? And not even to Sapporo (the main city) either, but a small town like Abashiri? Mostly we wanted to go somewhere a little different than the usual holiday destinations. Ritsuko has a couple of friends up there; also, I've been pining for real winter weather for a while (something in short supply in Osaka).

It turns out winter is actually a very good time of year for Hokkaido. There's lots of snow and it isn't all that cold; the average in February is similar to Stockholm at about -7 degrees with an average daytime high of about -3 degrees. And Abashiri is fairly southerly - about as far north as Venice or Cannes - so we get long, bright winter days with a wonderfully crisp, clear winter sun in an intensely blue sky.

Next up: Abashiri, home of the nonfree!

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