Hokkaido Day 7 & 8: Fields of Flowers and Return to the Dome

Day seven started off with a 6:24 am train departing from Wakkanai Station. This was my longest travel day of the entire trip. I didn’t arrive at Naka-Furano Station until around 2:40 pm. The trip from Wakkanai down to Asahikawa is a longer one than the way up. Our stop overs were a little longer.

The Middle of Nowhere

Our first stop over was in Otoineppu and lasted for 1 hour and 13 minutes. I got out of the train and walked around the very very small town for about 20 minutes. That’s about all it took to see the whole town. I think I saw more cyclist passing through the town than the number of people that live there.

There was an elementary and junior high school, but I was unsure of where the students come from. Perhaps the schools are not at capacity or they come in from neighboring towns and villages.

The rest of the ride down to Naka-Furano was rather uneventful. On the train from Asahikawa I was sitting next to a man in his late 40s. He wanted to speak English with me. It turns out he was a neurosurgeon and was on vacation too. He took a look at my Star Wars shirt and wanted to talk about Star Wars a little bit. I have no problem talking about Star Wars, so that was great!

I got off at Naka-Furano Station and headed to the main road to go to Tomta Farm. It’s one of the more famous lavender farms around Furano, if not the most famous. It was about a 20-25 minute walk from the station. That isn’t really a long ways, but I was carrying all my luggage.

Along the way there was the Naka-Furano Lavender Park, so I stopped there to take some pictures.

No Lavender, but this will do.

I pulled my first challenge card for the day… “T-Rex!” This is a classic for me, and those that have known me for years have enjoyed my impressions.

T-Rex

I continued down the road for about 15 minutes and finally arrived at Tomita Farm. I took a break a relaxed with Lavender ice cream. It wasn’t bad. The flavor was light and subtle and not the least bit over powering.

Tomita Farm is known for their lavender fields, but the lavender season had just ended. There were other types of flowers to see. There were a variety of colors, and I was tempted to try out some of my camera’s various functions. I show off a few photos.

After that I drew out my final challenge card of the day. It was “Rabbit Ears.”

What's up, doc?

I made the trek back toward Naka-Furano Station and headed up to the youth hostel. It was a pretty nice youth hostel and meals were included for free. The bathrooms were clean too and they had free wifi. I would recommend the Furano Youth Hostel to anyone passing through the area.

The owners are like old Japanese hippies. The husband was explaining to some kids how we rely on electricity and other conveniences too much. He was making rice the old fashioned way and was using an old stove and burning wood. It was rather delicious though.

I met two gaijin, Mischa and Andrew, at the youth hostel. The first I had run into my whole trip. I had seen a few that were probably locals in the small towns and they gave you that look like they were pissed they weren’t the only gaijin for miles anymore.

We decided to take a walk around town, but before going out three brothers staying at the hostel with their parents wanted us to do fireworks (sparklers) with them. We obliged.

Kids like hats!

Anyways, Mischa and Andrew were some cool dudes living in Kyoto. We went out to hit the “town” and ended up at Lawson(convenience store) . It was pretty much the only happening spot in the whole town.

After we got back to the hostel we all were working on our computers. Andrew had work, I was making my previous blog entry, and Mischa was on Skype talking to an airline company. Despite that we all looked busy, that didn’t stop one determined old man from showing us pictures on his PC. He was rather persistent to the point of total annoyance. Eventually, he went to bed. We all followed suit soon after….

Obligatory, Dragonball Z pose.

Day 8

The Wine Factory is up there!

After waking up, I broke fast with a meal prepared by the hostel staff. With a full belly I headed out to Furano proper. None of this “Naka” stuff today. I only had a few hours before my train back to Sapporo, so I rented a bicycle and headed to the Wine Factory.

The actual tour was kind of lackluster and not too interesting. There wasn’t much to see. Just a few of the older wines from past years on display. The upstairs was interesting, as there was wine to taste. I ended up picking up a few bottles for souvenirs for people back home.

Before leaving though, I drew a Photo Challenge card. I got “Ballerina.” Only one more after this!

After the Wine Factory I sped across the town, over a bridge, and out past several fields to theĀ  Cheese Factory! Ever more unimpressive! They sold the same cheese and wine as the wine factory. If you are ever in Furano, you only need to hit one up. I’d go for the Wine factory, since you get to taste wine.

I made it back to the station and headed back to Sapporo. I checked in at the same hotel as before. However, this time they gave me a room with a double bed, instead of a twin! Yay!

Sexy Back...

I had a game to get to this evening so headed out to Sapporo Dome. When I got there I found out Darvish was pitching tonight!!! OMG!! Everything is coming full circle! Deep breaths. Calm down.

But Yes, things were full circle. It was time for my last challenge card. This one was “Batman Mask.” I decided to try something to commemorate all the poses. I asked a group of people to pose with me and gave them each a past pose. They were enthusiastic to help out, but some of their poses don’t look that way. Anyways, here is the end result.

I'm Batman!

The game was a pretty interesting one. Darvish ended up letting in 2 runs, but pitched 9 full innings. The game was tied at 2-2, so we headed into the 10th inning.

For those that dont know, Japanese baseball has a time limit. Games can only go to 12 innings, and this year the time limit is down from 4.5 hours to 3.5 hours. The reduction is time is a result of the devasting earthquakes and tsunami last March. Many areas are still affected by power shortage, including half of the professional teams. The reduction in time is to close the venues earlier and thus save power.

With this in mine we were told the game time was at 3 hours 20 minutes. The tenth inning would be the last (they will play the full inning out regardless).

In the bottom of the 10th, the Fighters had two outs and a runner on second. Our cleanup hitter was up to bat, so he was intentionally walked by Orix. The next batter also took a base on balls. We are at bases loaded with 2 outs.

My man Scales is up to bat. He goes to a 3-1 count. The pitch goes out and everyone holds their breath. Ball!! Its another walk, and we win!! 3-2 over the Buffaloes! What a strange way to win.

Melon Chan's First Game!