Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jeepney Press May-June 2010 issue page 22

ACHI-KOCHI by Rey Ian Corpuz

Hokkaido: The Long Westernized Japan
– Part 1

Day 1 – Long and Winding Iron Man Road to Hokkaido
One of the best things about travelling is when you are able to explore the different sights at your own pace. That is why I always crave for the ultimate adventure. Last spring break, I tagged three of my friends along and had our Seishun travel towards Hokkaido. The route towards Hokkaido via local train proved to be difficult as there are very few local JR trains especially when you reach Iwate Prefecture. Using the Seishun 18 Kippu, we travelled from Kuki in Saitama until Morioka in Iwate. Along the way, there was one 3-minute change train which made the trip more adrenalin pumping while carrying a heavy luggage and doing a 100-meter sprint dash. In Morioka, we had to rush to Iwate Ginga Railways, which is a private train traversing along a JR line, since this local train’s interval is not as frequent as other trains. An additional 2,980 yen was spent for this lonely travel. It took us two long hours passing by the cold and white hinterlands of Iwate and southeast Aomori Prefectures. It seemed endless forests, tunnels and snow-blanketed mountains along the way until finally reaching our destination, Hachinohe City. From Hachinohe City, we asked for directions from the nearby koban in front of the station on how to get to Hachinohe Port. Yes, you read it right. A port. We rode the ferry! As riding the train again proved to be more complicated, we just rode the taxi. It took us less than 3,000 yen.

The ferry reminded me of my long trip 7 years ago via Super Ferry from Davao to Ilo-ilo. This is what only few people perhaps know about, that the shortest and most economical way to get to Sapporo is through a ferry from mainland Honshu rather than taking expensive special trains that pass through Hakodate and of course by airplane. Our destination was the port city of Tomakomai. Tomakomai is less than 2 hours by bus from Sapporo City, Hokkaido’s capital. A booking with Silver Ferry on the Internet is 10% cheaper than buying tickets at the port. Each of us paid 4,050 yen for the one-way trip. The overnight trip was 9 hours which departed Hachinohe at 10PM. So what does 4,050 yen have in the ship? Well, it’s a big carpeted room with no beds and only “improvised hard pillows”. We just lied on the floor after dozing to a few cans of beer in the vending machine.

Finally, the following morning, it was Hokkaido. But, it was still a few hours away from Sapporo, our final destination. A 1,250 yen Chuo Bus will take you to in front of JR Sapporo Station. With an erratic sleep in the ferry, I slept halfway in the bus. It was tiring yet the adventure was awesome. Covering three different railways, several prefectures, rode on a train, taxi and ferry all combined for more than 24 hours was the ultimate adventure. How about food? Bentos, onigiris, bread, chips and plenty of liquids like coffee, water or tea are good for long travels. Buy them before embarking on long journey trains. Better yet, buy them before you ride. You don’t need to worry as all trains along the way have toilets. Yet, our travel has not yet started as our aim is to tour Sapporo and Otaru, a nearby town next to Sapporo.

Getting around Sapporo
Sapporo has only three (3) subways. Sapporo offers a one-day 800 yen ride-all-you-can subway and a 1000-yen ride-all-you-can subway and Chuo Bus. Seishun 18 tickets are useless around Sapporo unless you want to travel to its neighboring towns like Hakodate, Otaru, Ashikawa and Niseko.

Sapporo Day 2

Ramen Alley (ラーメン横丁)
Our hotel is within the heart of Susukino district. Susukino is comparable to an Akihabara and Shibuya type of district combined. After checking-in, we decided to taste their local food. Our first destination was their ramen alley. It is but a very narrow alley filled with so many ramen shops. Hokkaido crabs are famous for its size, taste and whooping price. I ordered crab ramen while my colleagues ordered Hokkai ramen which is a combination of 3 sticks of crab legs and 3 pieces of scallops. The taste of soup stock was bit ordinary but the crabs were really good. Tender, crisp, and a bit juicy sweet. Crab ramen was at 1,500 yen while Hokkai ramen was at 1,300 yen. Prices are twice the average price of ramen in mainland Honshu. Since the ramen alley is just a minute strip in a heavily commercialized area, all of the shops are very small and narrow. And especially during lunch and dinner, most of these ramen shops are full of customers.

Odori Park and Sapporo TV Tower
Just a station away from Susukino is Odori Station. From there, we got off and walked by Odori Park and even walked further towards Sapporo TV Tower. The center of the park is filled with snow and blocks of ice. Since it was already the 1st week of April, most snow began to slowly melt and flood the area. While the city of Sapporo was on a busy Monday, the four of us were in the middle of the park striking poses for every picture we take. We took nume-rous photos. We were like kids playing in the middle of this snow-filled part of the park. While walking along the way, the Sapporo TV Tower seemed like it resembled that of Nagoya TV Tower. It may not look as grand as Tokyo Tower but a picture with it is worth the remembrance of Sapporo. The blue skies contrast the milky white reflections of the snow-covered park below. What a tiring and interesting afternoon in Sapporo!

Former Hokkaido Government Building
One unique thing about Sapporo is that most of the tourist spots are of western influence from red brick buildings (akarenga/赤煉瓦), foreign-inspired architectures and museums. The former Hokkaido Government Building is one of them. Just within Odori Park, we walked towards it. Interestingly, as a person who is living in Kanto area, pine trees and other trees that are growing the area of the park were supported with ropes so the weight of the snow won’t break its branches. And some small plants are covered with haystack meshed-like wrap, perhaps a protection from the harsh weather especially during blizzards. There is nothing much to do there except countless picture taking and frolicking around the snow-capped garden. Tired and exhausted, we left the area and had a short coffee break at Starbucks.The Hokkaido tumbler from Starbucks is also a cool remembrance of your Hokkaido trip.

Sapporo Watch Tower (Sapporo Tokeidai /
After the refreshing break, we headed for our last destination for the day. The Sapporo Clock Tower is one of the few remaining structures where western-style architecture is still visible. An elevated small stage is placed outside of the building to accommodate guests for photo snaps. The tower is now a museum showcasing the history of the Agricultural College and the development of Sapporo. Also, American-blue eyed dolls named Fanny Pio are also displayed. The ground floor exhibit area is filled with pictures of the previous administrators and early pioneers of Sapporo in various fields. The second floor’s façade seemed like an old chapel with long benches and an elevated wide podium in front. Chandeliers make the place look like an old church. At the rear side of the 2nd floor is a huge mechanical clock. Beside it, an audio-visual presentation about the history of the tower can be seen.
(to be continued)


Jeepney Press May-June Forecast by Madam Marivic

RAT Maswerte ang ngayong buwan na ito para sa pag-ibig lalo na sa mga dalaga at binata. Mag-ingat naman ang mga may asawa. There is possibility for infidelity at magkaroon ng gulo about sa love triangle, buksan ang mga mata at tainga sa posibleng mangyari. In June, stressful at misunderstanding at positibong dahilan ng gulo sa pamilya at trabaho. Madali kang mairita at magalit. Palampasin ang buwan na ito ng may peace and calm.

OX Mag-ingat ngayong buwan because you are prone to illness. Ang simpleng karamdaman posibleng mauwi sa malalang sitwasyon. Ingatan mabuti ang kalusugan para hindi mag-end sa hospital. Iwasan matulog sa NE direction. In June, may mga opportunities na darating sa yo. Malalampasan ng maayos ang mga problema. Sundin lang ang iyong kutob.

TIGER Hindi madali para sa yo ang buwang ito. Irritable and easy to get sick. Iwasan ang mga malalayong biyahe at ospital. This will be inviting the yin energy coming to you. Kung may nararamdaman sa katawan magpahinga agad at iwasan matulog sa NE. In June, your luck improve this month kung ikaw man ay may mga pinag daanang financial problems. You don’t have to worry because this month you are full of courage to stand in good situation.

RABBIT This month is special for the Rabbit. May mga unexpected wealth and money comes to you. Mataas ang iyong creativity at marami kang mga good ideas. May tutulong sa iyo and you will receive benefits from the mentors. Wear some gold to lessen the metal energy in your chart. In June, ang iyong main problem this month is your health. Your luck is blocking with your health problems. This is the main obstacle that you’re now suffering. Just lay low and wait when your luck is superb.

DRAGON Kailangan mong maging alerto sa lahat ng bagay. Nasa iyo ang violent star this month. Anytime there is someone who will betray you or get backstabbed from your friend na alam mong pinag kakatiwalaan mo. Hidden enemies will come out. Mag-ingat. In June, may malaking surprise na darating sa iyo. Money luck comes unexpectedly. May taong makikilala at tutulong sa iyo. Huwag palampasin ang mga pagkakataon.

SNAKE May mga lalabas na mga di totoong kaibigan. Mag-ingat dahil posibleng maloko or madaya lalo na doon sa mga may kasosyo sa negosyo o kahit pa ang taong pinag kakatiwalaan mo. Maging maingat at makiramdam sa mga taong nasa paligid. In June, may mga matatanggap na unexpected support from older person at mag bibigay ito sa iyo ng good advice and guidance. And good fortune will come unexpectedly dahil you having the help of divine from heaven.

HORSE Argumentative ka this month. You are very sensitive and hot tempered kahit maliit na bagay, lumalaki at di ka madaling mag patawad hanggang sa nakakapag-salita ka ng masama sa kapwa. Ingatan ang mga lumalabas sa bibig dahil masasangkot ka sa tsismis. In June, lawsuit are possible to happen lalo na yung mga nasa pulitika at public services. Mental stress and emotional problems ang dala mo. Maging low profile at mapag-pasensya, mag-bakasyon at mag-relax.

SHEEP Trouble, gossip at betrayal ang haharapin sa buwan na ito. Tsismis ang pag sisimulan ng gulo mula doon sa taong pinagkakatiwalaan mo. Ito ang magdadala sa yo sa kapahamakan. Umiwas sa gulo. Magbakasyon and make a good recharge para sa sarili. In June, you are out of focus and distracted ka sa lahat ng nakapaligid sa yo lalo na pag dating sa romance. Avoid temptations and having affair with somebody. This will end in tragedy and heartache. Focus on your work and do something important.

MONKEY Dobleng ingat ang gawin dahil dobleng misfortune din ang darating sa yo this month. You have to cope this bad luck this month, pero may kakayahan ka to transform bad luck to good luck. Iwasan lamang pumunta sa mga cemetery, hospitals and prisons because yin energy is so powerful to catch you up. And this will bring you tremendous misfortune. Better to stay in your home at huwag masyadong lumabas ng bahay ngayong buwan na ito.

ROOSTER Victory star! And double happy because this month is excellent for you. If you have worries and troubles about money you will solve this easily because money luck is good. May mga taong gumagawa ng gulo sa paligid mo pero you will win over them. Better to be friends with them kaysa makipag away ka and they become your enemy. Isipin na marami pang good months ang darating sa yo. In June, maraming good fortune ang darating maging smart at sharp lang sa trabaho at huwag iiwanan ang trabaho na di tapos at gagawa uli ng panibago use your instinct to decide what best for you. Push yourself in good confidence.

DOG This is a good timing para gumawa ng sarili mong strategy to make you success. Kailangan lamang na focused ka sa lahat ng bagay gagawin mong desisyon. Business is good. Ipagpatuloy mo lang ang pagiging tapat. In June, this month is excellent for the year of the dog. Anuman ang gusto mong marating, anuman ang gusto mong gawin, makukuha mo. Because wealth and income luck is great, para sa mga may negosyo, mataas ang inner power at vision mo this month. Gamitin ito ng tama at huwag sayangin ang pagkakataon na ito.

BOAR Mararating mo ang iyong goals sa buhay and your dreams will come true. Kailangan mo lamang maging focused ka sa gagawin mo. Hindi mo puwede ipag walang bahala ang iyong daily life. Because you will miss the chance that you really want. Kung sa iba ay kuntento na hindi para sa mga taong gustong maging successful sa buhay. You have to fight for this and save your energy to hard work. In June, lahat ng bagay ay maswerte para sa iyo. Prosperity and good income is great and excellent. Alam mo exactly kung ano ang gusto at pag lalaanan ng cash mo. Pag dumating ang ganitong suwerte sa iyo, huwag nang mag tanong. Just enjoy luck!

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