It’s quite the distance, from Sapporo to Hakodate. The train ride, not on a shinkansen but on an express train, took about four hours – and cost me almost 70 euros! After such a long ride, I figured I probably wouldn’t feel like exploring the city, so I decided that I would stay two nights in Hakodate. I had booked a room at the JR Inn hotel, which turned out to be an excellent choice: the hotel was literally right above the train station.
Hello, from a hotel room overlooking the train station of a rainy Hakodate. Hakodate is the southernmost tip of northern Japan, the island of Hokkaido. On Friday I flew to Sapporo, the capital of this prefecture. This is where the Pokémon GO Fest was held last weekend: a live event organized by Niantic, the makers of Pokémon GO. I saw the announcement in the app and thought, “Hey, I can just go to this!”
It was the day before Riemer and I went to Disneyland that I decided to try Korea. I had been waiting for Japan for over a year, and it didn’t look like anything was going to change in the near future. And camping in Riemer’s living room, or in hotels in Utrecht even longer didn’t seem like a good idea. So it had to be Korea.
I had been wanting to go to Disneyland Paris for months, but kept putting it off, “because Japan”. I couldn’t plan ahead, I didn’t dare take the corona risk, or Riemer had to work. But after we did not go in November, “because Japan”, and Japan and Omicron screwed me over again, I was determined: we are going. On New Year’s Eve. That way I would be rid of the Dutch fireworks misery as well.
Recently I was strolling through the book store while waiting for my train, and there I found The Secret For A Long And Happy Life. Or well … I don’t know exactly who to believe. There is the Danish “Hygge”, the Swedish “Lagom”, or “The Way” of the Chinese.
While in the Netherlands the corona virus is taking hold, everything is closed and everyone has to stay at home, it is slightly less intense in Japan. Yes, certain things have been closed for weeks. But although everyone suspects the government of lying (because of the Olympics), it actually seems to be not too bad here.
Japan is the safest country in the world. In the Starbucks you can leave your laptop on the table when you go to the toilet, whoever forgets his iPhone in the metro will almost certainly get it back that same day and in the evening I walk home without any fear. Yet I was scammed yesterday. By an extremely sweet-looking girl in a pink dress, with kawaii pins in her hair and a high-pitched voice that makes her sound like a ten-year-old, while she is probably twenty-five.
For my appointment with Jalisha (25) I have to leave the city. About an hour and a half from Tokyo is Odawara, a place I previously only knew as a transfer station to the nearby onsen villages. (An onsen is a bathhouse filled with volcanically heated water, and because Odawara is so close to Mt. Fuji, there are plenty of onsen resorts nearby.)
I met with Melissa (26) in front of Shinjuku station, the busiest station in Tokyo. “Under that big video screen at ALTA.” Shinjuku has never been my favorite station, because I always get lost mercilessly, so I was happy to find the video screen, and then Melissa too.
Twin sisters Charissa and Nadine (both 28), despite different studies, both ended up in Japan. We meet in Hamarikyu Park, because the view there is so Tokyo: behind the Japanese gardens loom the large glass skyscrapers of Shiodome. The contrast in Tokyo that the sisters love so much is clearly visible here.
Initially, I had arranged to meet Maria (26) on Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. But when dark clouds gathered over Rainbow Bridge, we decided to move to one of Maria’s other favorite spots: Electric Town Akihabara. We take pictures as the tourists in Mario Karts race behind us, then have a cup of coffee. Although Maria says she only speaks “Japanese for emergencies”, her way of speaking is very Japanese. Her oh’s and ah’s, her hmm’s and so-so-so’s… They betray that Maria is more Japanese than she thinks.
In my previous post about shopping in Tokyo I told you about Harajuku and Shimo-Kitazawa. This time I’ll take you to Koenji and the best kept secret of Tokyo: the Oi Keibajo-mae flea market!
Wie voor het eerst in Tokio komt, de eerste de beste hippe vintagewinkel in Harajuku binnenstapt en het prijskaartje van een smoezelige Adidas-sweater omdraait, schrikt zich een halve hartaanval. Wát?! 35 euro voor dit ding uit de Zak van Max?! Maar het zou zonde zijn om thrifting in Tokio direct helemaal af te schrijven. Want wie weet waar ‘ie moet wezen, en waar níet, kan wel degelijk spotgoedkope pareltjes op de kop tikken. Ik vertel je alles.