2004 visit

The trip started out reminding us of how different (read: incompetent) Japanese culture can be sometimes. We lined up early for the bus from Sendai Station to the Ferry Terminal. I was smart enough to have the 30 people in our group line up earlier than expected so we could get a seat on the bus. Ha, what a foolish thought. We are in line and there are about 3 Japanese people in front of us and about 30 behind us. The bus will probably hold about 45 people and then there will be those little fold down seats in the middle of the aisle.

WRONG.

One the bus got there after being horribly late we noticed it was small local bus. Hmm, somehow there were now 5 people in front of us. The driver saw the line and picked up the radio. Ah, he was calling for another bus.

WRONG.

As we boarded the bus another 5 people just blatantly cut in front of us. We are foreigners, we don't count as people, no problem. Well we stuff into the bus until it was absolutely packed. I was about to fall on the driver, there were so many people already on the bus and about 20 more outside. So a few of them come to the front and ask the driver if he called another bus.

He didn't.

So the remaining 20 people all entered the bus from the front (exit) and started pushing us back. There was honestly no room. I actually fell back a bit because there was a bag on the floor, but I didn't fall, I was just leaning backwards. Ok, 40 minutes of this will really suck, but I can do it since it's cheaper and faster than any other way. So we are on the way. Do we go past the remaining bus stops because there is no room on the bus? Remember, we are still in Japan. We stop at each one and the people try to force themselves onto the bus. There is honestly ZERO room. You can only put so many stones in a box.

We keep driving and stopping and people keep trying to get on. Here's the thing that really made me mad.

The bus holds about 40 people comfortably or in our case 85 people like sardines.
The ferry holds 900 people, but about 500 of them drive.

So how do the other 400 people get there? By bus or by train.

How hard is it to figure out that there is a major festival in Sapporo this weekend and the Sendai port is one of the few ports that has a direct line to the Sapporo port? Why not have, and this would be a stretch in logic:

MORE THAN ONE BUS

or

MORE THAN TWO BUSES DAILY

Of course no one asked for my logic or what I think makes sense, but isn't the bus being obscenely packed a small hint. I can't express how packed it was, because it was so packed that in the US or most other country it would have been illegal to drive with that many people. Imagine 5,000 people fitting in a room designed for about 500. That would be a good estimate of how tight it was.

So finally we get to the terminal and board and see our rooms. Some of us go eat at the grossly overpriced buffet on board, others go to a bar/restaurant. Then we sit around drinking beer and chatting with each other.

             

At some point, Corey and I go to the deck and check out the water. You know what, it's water. I've seen it. Plus it was absolute negative Kelvin and I couldn't stay long. The first picture, of Corey, looks very Russian. The second on is, well, water.

    

There was a mini-theater, which is fact was just a theater, as well as a game room.

    

I shared a room with Michelle the other "officer" of FuJET, because we were the odd balls in the group. Meaning everyone else had roommates. Here is our messy room. It was decently sized. She said it was about the same size as a cruise ship, but obviously not as nice.

         

The next day we took a train from the port to Sapporo station, and finally we made it to our oddly colored hotel.

    

Sapporo has a nice train system, subway system, and even a street car system.

Directly beside our hotel was the Ice Sculpture section.

There were several instances of Engrish, which as we know is the Japanese version of how they think English is. Why bother to ask a native speaker about how to spell something, just write it however you want. If we were to write things in wrong Japanese, they would tell us to change it, and never understand the connection. Here are some examples.

That night we took 40 people to the Asahi Beer Garden and had All You Can Eat and Drink for 2 hours for only 3,500 yen (about $35). Here is one of the grills where you cook it yourself.

There was an option of eating in an igloo, but we opted out of that.

 

This next picture will show how much snow Sapporo gets on average. This has even been packed down.

Finally we went to a bar that a JET who went to the beer garden with us, but actually lives in a neighboring prefecture, suggested. That was a run on sentence. It's specialty was that it had over 300 varieties of imported beer. I had a few old favorites, even though they were priced at about $8 each and there was supposed to be a $10 cover charge. Luckily the charge was waved, but the beer was still pricey.

       
 

 

On the way back we passed the ice sculptures that were lit for the night. We took more shots. .

 

The Next Day