Cycling the Length of Japan: Day 5/6 + Some Random Thoughts and Observations

On Day 5, I rode from Furano to Sapporo through a mostly remote region with perfect cycling roads.  The weather was good (read: no rain) and it was a very pleasant day on the bike with 70 miles and about 2500′ of climbing, so not an overly taxing day.

Raman Alley

Raman Alley

Day 6 was a “rest day” in Sapporo where I spent time exploring the downtown area.  Very nice city core, with countless interesting restaurants, but I can’t fathom what it’s like in the winter.  Here’s a dense city with 2 million people that gets 20 FEET of snow a year.  They say it’s totally surreal in the city during the depths of winter.  I can’t image where they put it all.

That's about $22 for a melon.

That’s over $22 for a melon

Hokkaido is an incredible fertile place, filled with farms, and  lush river valley’s that look like they could grow about anything.  But the local fruit is unbelievably expensive.  I stopped at a cherry stand and a small basket was $15.  Grapes for a similar price.  This better be one damn good melon.

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SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS/OBSERVATIONS:

TOILETS:  No trip to Japan would be complete without a discussion of their toilets. They give new meaning to the word “throne”.  Sure, there’s the occasional hole in the ground like the old French-style.  But the vast majority have an unsettling mixture of plumbing and electronics.  The side handle has a bunch of buttons and lights, and the contraception will usually do something when you sit, either the seat will heat up (not all that satisfying in 85 degree, 85% humidity weather), or some water will spray (hopefully down), or there’s this little beep, or the sound of rushing water.  Sometimes this electronic add-on is stuck on a standard Home Depot model, or more than likely, it’s this fully integrated unit that appears a bit over-engineered for the purpose.

The one in my current hotel has the electronic keypad on a remote device, which means the toilet either has Bluetooth or some other short range wireless technology.  I haven’t yet heard music playing, seen a place to charge my phone, or noticed a USB adaptor, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

JAYWALKING:  I know Japan is a classic Social Culture (vs the Individualistic US Culture), and I know there is a culture of following the rules (one of the reasons it’s so safe to travel here), so I’m guessing that’s why no one, and I mean NO ONE ever jaywalks, at least in Hokkaido.  Never.  I’ve seen people standing at a light looking at “The Red Hand” when there isn’t a car in sight, but no ones goes.  So there I am standing right along with everyone else thinking, “wait, there are no cars, and this road is only about 25 feet wide!”, so I go, partly to see if anyone joins me.  Well, I’m here to report, when I do that, I’m solo crossing the street.  Defiant Gaijin!

BIG GLASSES COME TO JAPAN:  That faux-intellectual, nerdy, big dark-rimmed glasses look that’s all the rage in the 20/30-something hipper than hip crowd in the US, apparently has come to Japan.  And seeing it on someone with Rachel Maddows stature is one thing, but seeing it on a petite teenage girl about 5’2″ and weighing just over 100 lbs is quite another.  Not sure it works.

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~ by rjmang on August 21, 2013.

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