Thursday, 31 July 2008


Distance travelled: 18.115 km

The landscape outside the windows of yet another train, had changed. The crop fields of Hokkaido, was replaced by low slung mountains and endless green rice paddies, it looked distinctively more Japanese than across the straight. What was passing by the windows, the Japanese call Tohoku, a less polite sample, would call it the back lands of Japan - although it bore little resemblance to Western Jutland. I had overnighted in Aomori, hoping to pay a visit to a secluded peninsula on the northern reaches of Honshu - my credit cards would have it otherwise as it turned out - after a tour of a dozen post offices, I had given up and decided to go to the nearest major city, In case my woes continued - it did, and as I bowed to an old lady entering the ATM booth next to me, I was secretly hoping to find a cute puppy to strangle, in front of my feet.

It turned out the situation was not quite so bad as I feared, Visa International, as it turned out, for some reason has a withdrawal limit of 40.000¥ as opposed to MasterCard's fifty, so i could probably have gotten money in the first ATM i tried, well we all have our bad days.

As I left the post office, with a crisp bunch of banknotes, a rain shower that had been lurking in an eerie sky above, suddenly let loose, and I was treated with a display of physics that have left many a scientist sleepless. Take a medium sized Japanese town of say a million people, and subject it to a rain shower, and faster than the eye can comprehend - which may I remind you- is counted in milliseconds, the entire population located outdoors, will somehow have produced an umbrella, its quite startling.


Being a foreigner I settled with seeking shelter in a cozy looking pub by the river. And had a interesting night with the owner and a brazilophile Japanese samba player. Not all fun and games, you learn a lot about Japanese and the Japanese people, in situations like these. Pubs and Izekayas are the only places you really meet the locals with their guards down. A lot like home when you think about it.

- Stefan

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