The blog I'm setting up is to connect visitors to Hokkaido with restaurants with English menus, in the name of their dining convenience.
Anyhow, I found myself descending down a stairwell (well lit and perfectly cool) into a warren (again well lit and perfectly welcoming) of small eateries.
My plan was to ask them all if they had an English menu, so as to include them in my register of restaurants with English menus.
I started by entering an Indian curry place. It was just out and out dodgy, so I moved on. I went through about six restaurants in total. They were lovely by and by, and I got one restaurants details. English menu, bloody good looking sushi and sashimi, and waitresses in traditional kimono/yukata get up.
That, however, was not the venue that sticks in my mind.
The honour of that goes to a smaller place. A place entered through a sliding door, with a TV bolted to the wall just to your right as you enter. The bar/serving station is directly in front of you. The whole place measures probably 7x4 metres, with about ten tables.
My memory of entering was not the sumo going on on the TV. It wasn't the music or the decor. It was the stare of the businessman seated at one of the tables. He was staring at me, with a 'what the hell are you doing here' look on his dial.
So I got to feeling miffed. How dare he look at me like that. I'm a person I thought. How dare you look at me like I don't belong.
But then I remembered this, this, this, this, and this story. (They all outline how locals are over tourists). And I had a moment of clarity.
This guy who was giving me the dirty had had a hard day at work. He has worked hard all his life, in a country that has rapidly changed around him. His city in particular, Sapporo, has become a tourist mecca of sorts. And here I was, in his safe place, speaking my awful accented Japanese, and taking away his quality after work time.
I get him. I know how he feels. Having lived in Japan for a spell now, I am turning Japanese a little I think. Case in point is the onsens at Niseko. Nothing I love more than a good onsen.
My favourite onsen is called Yuki Chichibu, and it is out the back of Niseko. If you forget to take your silver jewellery off, it comes out black. It stinks of sulphur, and leaves the lovely
つるつる, or soft and smooth feeling on your skin when you hop out.
Unfortunately, in the winter now, I have to deal with Australians (and I regretfully suspect fellow Kiwis) drinking beer whilst having an onsen. They aren't drunk, they aren't rowdy. They are just taking away from the calm and peace, and Japanese style that is an onsen. And it pisses me off no end.
And the perverse interest in the snow tomorrow? I don't know why, but I'm looking forward to it. When I am shoveling it and slipping over on it, and driving through it for three months, I will be cursing its very existence. I don't therefore understand my anticipation for its arrival. I is a very real, but unlogical feeling.