Day zero in Japan: absolutely not faffing in Tokyo

February 9, 2010 at 5:00 pm / by
Getting to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, is always going to be a faff. Of course, if you have time, a faff is exactly what you want. It’s while faffing that you meet people and see all the weird signs, bits of tat, delicious and suspicious food – essentially stumble around in the detail – of another country. Why do people travel if not to make life harder for themselves? More difficult, more rewarding, more surprising. I went to Hokkaido once before, ten years ago and in the summer, and got there by train (lots of opportunities to drink hotto kohi – hot coffee – from platform vending machines) and back by ferry (36 hours at sea, sleeping on a bedroll in an economy class tatami room). Fine fertile faffing ground both.
But I digress. On this occasion, with the trip measured in ski days and therefore pressure to get journeys over with, we are flying from Tokyo to Sapporo Chitose airport, over 500 miles pretty much directly north. It is an issue for the British skier – it’d be hard, and exhausting, to organise your trip so as not to spend a night in Tokyo, especially since the internal flights go from a different airport. In my opinion if you’re coming all the way here you might as well have a cultural foray into Tokyo in any case.
We’re doing the Tokyo plunder on the other end of the trip though, so for now it’s a matter of a bowl of spaced-out, post-flight noodles and a beer that’s crisp and wonderful in a tiny restaurant with (exciting!) no English on the menus. And then a night way, way up in the Park Hotel, where I sit in a timeless limbo and watch the lights of the city until the Tokyo tower is switched off. 1am, that is, incase you ever wondered.
Here’s a little vacant video of the view from the sleepy morning after.


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