Drinking Sapporo in Sapporo

Finally made it to the Sapporo Beer Museum this week, another one to tick off my things-to-do-while-in-Sapporo list. After walking from South-west to North-east Sapporo, getting only slightly lost/stuck on the wrong side of the railway and taking a shortcut through a shopping centre, I eventually found the museum. There’s actually a bus from the station but once I’d walked halfway I figured it best to carry on.

The museum is free to enter, and consists of three floors of exhibits on the history of beer in Japan and the Kaitakushi brewery (now called the Sapporo Beer Company), how beer is made, Sapporo beer and advertising over the years. All in Japanese but there is an English/Japanese guide book available from the information counter. Perfect for reading practice as it’s direct translations!

In typical Japanese style, the exhibits were super cute. This is part of an exhibit showing the process of manufacturing beer, but it just reminds me of a scene from a trapped-in-a-department-store-on-Christmas-Eve type movie:

However the best bit of the museum was the ground floor: the beer hall. Here you can sample several different types of beer brewed by the Sapporo Beer Company. I believe one pint cost around ¥300, or for ¥500 you can get samples of 3 different beers, as we did:

I actually really enjoyed the Kaitakushi one, although Classic is obviously the most well-known and what I’ve been used to drinking over the past few months! Here’s me enjoying my Sapporo Classic:

Where I Spent The Winter

This is actually an old post that I forgot to publish, but better late than never as I’ve hardly shared any pics of what Kiroro actually looks like. Now the season has finished here are a few snaps from over the winter at Kiroro where I was working as a ski instructor.

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The Village (pronounced the French way) is the Annie Kids building and our staff room etc.

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Me in my uniform. Blue uniform for adult lessons, orange for kids.

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Chairlift lettering on my leg.

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Nagamine first tracks. I’m going to miss the early morning ski runs we got to take before lessons started!

iroiro na shashin

Some photos from April’s Honshu trip, of nothing in particular…
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Hello Kitty Tea & Apple Juice

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Cherry Blossom… Packing every few days is hard work when lugging around all your possessions… Hello Kitty Apple Juice/Tea is first time I’ve actually enjoyed drinking tea, can’t seem to find it in Sapporo though… Room Key… Lovely and excessively large hotel room in Hakone… Shinkansen… Turtles sunbathing in Hiroshima… Me in Yoyogi Park.

Hiroshima

A few pics from a day trip to Hiroshima back in April.

Genbaku Dome

The Peace Memorial Museum was an interesting and eye-opening place, only slightly spoiled by the masses of schoolchildren who were also visiting the museum. It made it very difficult to actually see or read any of the exhibits, and to fully concentrate and take it all in. Also meant we were held up for a long time outside answering questions from schoolchildren doing an English speaking practice assignment.

Some of the exhibits were pretty amazing though, especially the before and after models of the A-Bomb hypocenter and surrounding areas. Not knowing an awful lot about the war or atomic bombs, it was interesting to learn about the lead-up to the bombing and the long term effects (both physical and political). Definitely worth the trip there but I think I would have appreciated it more on a quieter day, if such a thing exists.

The Museum of The Little Prince

About a month ago (wow, time flies) while in Hakone, I left the grown-ups for a day so I could visit The Museum of The Little Prince.

Le Petit Prince has been my favourite book since I first read it when I was 17. My A-Level French teacher lent me a copy and once I had read that I bought my own copy the next time I went to France. I then bought a second copy (also in French) when I was in America last year because I missed reading it. Then, a couple of months ago I bought a third copy but this time in Japanese (星の王子さま) which I have been reading (very slowly and with a lot of help from a kanji dictionary) since then. I’m still only about 40 pages in but learning some good words! So, 3 copies of the book but I have yet to read it in English. To be honest I’m not sure I want to.

Anyway, my Mum sent me a link to the museum, and I obviously couldn’t pass up the opportunity. And one ferry, one cable car, one funicular railway and one bus ride later, I found my way there.

The Museum of The Little Prince, Hakone

 

Museum Guide

I loved this museum for a lot of the same reasons I loved the Ghibli Museum. For a start, look at the guide map! That’s the English version, and the lady kindly gave me a Japanese one as well (they also had French) which contains completely different information but is also in that lovely rose shape. The effort that has been made to make the museum not feel like a museum, but more like you are actually entering into the world of Antoine de Saint Exupery and Le Petit Prince is amazing. The outside area is landscaped as a Provençal town, including (fake) shops, a well, a church and gardens.

Provencal Japan

 

The inside of the museum has been just as well thought through – after an optional introductory film in the entrance hall, you are taken on a chronological journey through St Exupery’s life from childhood to disappearance, each area fitted out in the style of an office in the Saharan desert, a Parisian cafe, a New York apartment or wherever else in the world he happened to be at that time.

I knew a little about Antoine de St Exupery before visiting the museum, but learnt so much about his absolutely fascinating life story. All the museum’s explanations are in Japanese, but they offer numerically-coded guidebooks in other languages (I think only English and Chinese) that follow the story. It was also useful for me knowing a bit of French as obviously a lot of the mementos and artefacts from St Exupery’s life are written in French, and these were some of the most interesting bits with no translations.

Throughout the museum there are suggestions on how St Exupery’s own life ties in with characters or settings from his novels, most apparent in Le Petit Prince. There is also a whole section on Le Petit Prince, its characters and suggestions of the meanings behind certain phrases.

Definitely worth a visit for anyone who is a fan of Antoine de St Exupery and his works, or of Le Petit Prince. It’s now on my to-do list to read some more of St Exupery’s novels, once I’ve eventually made my way through 星の王子さま!

Some links:

Antoine de St Exupery Wikipedia
Antoine de St Exupery Official Site (in French)
The Museum of The Little Prince, Hakone
Buy The Little Prince (English), Amazon.co.uk
Buy Le Petit Prince (French), Amazon.co.uk
Buy 星の王子さま(Japanese), Amazon.co.jp

Hiking Mount Moiwa

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Finding things to do in Sapporo that do not cost much money is not always easy, as I’ve discovered in the last couple of weeks of living here with no income and only vague future plans. However yesterday’s activity was not only free, but healthy! Along with my friend Joanna, I went for a nice hike up Mt Moiwa.

I’m not completely sure what the difference between a hike and a walk is, but judging by the outfits and gear of other people we saw on the trail, most Japanese people would class Mt Moiwa as a hike. The route we took was roughly 6km round trip, starting from the trailhead next to Jikei Hospital.

The actual trail is not difficult, kind of steep in places (especially for not-as-fit-as-they-should-be people like me) but there are steps where needed and it’s nice and wide. We met quite a lot of people as we walked, mainly aged 50+ and all very friendly – so an awful lot of Konnichiwa and several Otsukeresamadesu were exchanged. Much easier on the way down when it’s easier to find spare breath!

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The summit at the moment is a bit of a building site as the ropeway is currently being reconstructed, so the main viewpoint is not accessible and there are minimal facilities, but you still get the views of Sapporo and of the mountains in the other direction (towards Kiroro). I only took a couple of digital photos but took more with my Holga, which I’m sure will appear at some point.

Once back to where we started, we went to look for some food but obviously hadn’t had enough walking as we ended up walking all the way back to Odori-koen, which is another 4km, before we ate. But that just shows how close Mt Moiwa is to central Sapporo, and tells me I should be going for walks that way more often.

Aeroplane Views

Normally, I hate window seats. Whenever I book seats I always pick an aisle seat, even for the cinema. But on a recent flight from Kobe to Sapporo I didn’t have a choice and a window seat was my only option, so I spent the flight trying not to think of the horror of being trapped in by two strangers sitting next to me, and instead focused on looking out of the window. And the views were lovely! I don’t even remember the last time I sat by the window on a plane, but this time I loved it. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it for a flight of more than 2 hours, but for short journeys I’m going window from now on!

These photos are pretty uninspiring, but they give you some idea of what I was looking at.

 

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Kobe from above. Also you can just see the end of Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge, the route to Shikoku.

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Nice heart wing.
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You can just about see Mt Fuji in the distance amongst the clouds.

Hakone and the Big Mountain

Fuji-san

Next stop from Tokyo was Hakone, sometimes referred to as “Japan’s Brighton” as it’s where a lot of Tokyoites go to weekend. A quick Shinkansen ride and hotel shuttle bus later, we arrived at the very lovely and slightly posh Prince Hotel – my massive twin room all to myself was a bit of a shock after the closet sized room I’d just spent 6 nights in in Tokyo. But definitely the good kind of shock. Hakone is known for 2 things – views of Mt Fuji and it’s many “norimono” or transport methods. As in, you can do a loop of Hakone using: regular ferry, pirate galleon, cable car, funicular railway, standard railway, bus, and probably taxis and cars if you wanted to.

On the full day we had in Hakone, we split up because I wanted to go to the Little Prince Museum (which will get it’s own post when I get round to it) and also wanted a bit of a lie in so the grown-ups went off separately and earlier, but we still managed to keep bumping into each other at such places as the Sulphur springs of Owakudani and the funicular railway station.

Despite all the many transport methods, after using most of them (except train and pirate galleon) to get to the museum and back, I still ended up with a half hour walk from Moto-Hakone to Hakone-En as I was too late for the last ferry back and couldn’t be bothered to wait for a bus. But it did mean I saw some lovely sights such as the Torii (Shrine Gate) below, a jungle-type path along the side of the lake and the glares from drivers as they come across a girl walking along the side of a narrow road.

Ohayou Fuji-san

Lake Ashi

Checking the Sulphur Eggs

Hakone Torii in the Lake

Japan in the Rain

 

umbrellas

As soon as it starts to rain, umbrellas seem to appear out of nowhere. I’ve never noticed people carrying closed umbrellas, but the minute a drop of rain falls everybody seems to have full-size brollies. I was once in a nail salon when it started raining, and was given a free umbrella just so I wouldn’t have to walk home in the rain. You can also buy a pretty decent umbrella from Family Mart for 500.

Security Guards have plastic covers so their hats won’t get wet, and shops with paper or card carrier bags provide rain covers so they won’t get soggy.

Two days ago I was standing at a crossing in the rain with my scarf over my head to keep my hair dry, and a lady came up next to me and held her umbrella over me. She then walked with me to where I was going, which I thought was the same direction she was going, but as I went inside I saw her go back the way she had come. Just to keep my hair dry.

A lot of streets (in Kyoto at least) have covered walkways, which in my opinion is a brilliant idea for an city that suffers from bouts of rain.

Most shops have umbrella covers at the entrance so you can carry your umbrella around without it dripping everywhere. I have also seen umbrella dryers that squeeze off excess water like a mop.

I guess rain is another one to add to the list of things that Japan does well.