Sunday, January 9, 2011
2nd April, 2009 - Our first full day in Sapporo on our 6th trip to Japan together. Early April in Sapporo is a strange "in-between" month for weather. It's not winter (and there's very little new snow around), and Spring is starting to make an appearance...slowly. However, there remains quite a bit of snow lying around, remnants of a bitterly cold winter. Sapporo's architecture is a strange mix of styles - including the older style apartments. Actually this one has been ear-marked for renovation for a long time, but to show how difficult tenancy laws can be in Japan, the business that rents the ground floor refuses to move - hence it remains. I always thought it strange to see vending machines on the side of back-streets in Japan... and yet, I can't recall EVER having a drink from this machine - or even seeing anyone buy a drink. Is this like soft-drink mafia tactics... it's all about street domination. Japan can be a very complex country.
By the way - it's somewhat ironic that as I write this, the streets of Sapporo look quite a bit different as of today in 2011...
In the near distance, the mountains rear up, still snow covered (but not the nice powder snow that exemplifies Hokkaido - but we'll see some more of that in the next post). T-chan used to have fantastic views of the mountains from her bedroom window... but alas, the new form of architecture - the modern mansion apartments have come to increasingly close in the skyline (and the sky) from many modern Japanese residents ... and Sapporo is a relatively low density city compared to the likes of Tokyo or Osaka. The plain, bland almost colourless mansion apartments are both a good thing and bad thing for th city... they erode at the fabric of the social neighbourhood village feel, and they also herald the withdrawal of the outer regional populations into the main cities... however, they bring life, money and infrastructure to the older suburbs.
T-chan's family garden is starting to recover from the winter blanket of snow... and otousan (T-chan's father) has already taken down the yukitsuri that protects and strengthens the plants from snow... as a reminder... check here for what the garden looks like in winter. You can see in the photo above that the neighbours pine still has it's pole and rope supports up.
And whilst the maximum temperatures are still cold (and sometimes cooler) - generally around the 7 to 13 degree Celsius mark - April marks the turning point of the weather, and we all start to try and get out and about more. The reality is however that whilst there are nice blue skies on this day, it can be still quite grey and forbidding at this time of year. L-kun of course was spoilt by his Japanese grandparents whom had bought him a trike to ride. All rugged up, he decided to hazard the cold temperatures and go for a spin
This was one of the joys of otousan who would often take L-kun for a walk. Good exercise... and great times together.
That also gave T-chan and I a chance to run off to the local Aeon shopping centre and indulge in some much needed retail therapy (on our second day in Japan)... including some wonderful crepes... from the local Baskin & Robbins 31 store. Crepe's are something that are actually quite difficult to get in Adelaide, but the Japanese love... and in this I share their delight. As does T-chan.
On his return, L-kun is not one to miss out on an eating opportunity. Including day-old birthday cake. Japan for us is very much about eating...and that doesn't always have to be nice healthy food either.