Asahikawa, Hokkaido: made it to the zoo after a minor freak-out because I’ve a slightly irrational fear of buses and everything was in Japanese. (If you’re ever giving me directions, never put me on a bus.). Saw the penguins (twice!), seals, and polar bears (& watched one be fed), and then I left because the penguins were really all I’d come to see and the loneliness was starting to shadow me again.
I underestimated the loneliness that wraps around you when you’re traveling alone in a foreign country whose language you don’t know. It comes down, really, simply to wanting to be able to converse with someone and be understood and understand because the ability to communicate is something I think is so easy to take for granted. I know I certainly did.
And the language barrier certainly colours the way you see places. I will most certainly continue studying Japanese and using it, so I can return to Hokkaido in the future.
But it’s funny the way life works lots of times because I ended up coming back to my hostel and meeting some fabulous people. We talked and got coffee after a thwarted attempt to watch other hostel guests perform (& it was a perfect cappuccino! I cn hardly ever find he perfect cappuccino Stateside!), and then, later, we tried salmiayakki (sorry, Finnish people, but, omg, what the hell?!) offered by Finnish guests and awamori (Okinawan sake?) offered by the hotel owner (who is from Okinawa! As well as another staff lady here!) and had some beer and grilled (fried?) fish and scallop sashimi. My first (what I feel to be) genuine hosteling experience, and I am in a much better place for it.
Off to Furano today — not sure what I’ll do for almost three days — then Hakodate. I really should get on with rearranging my itinerary. I want to go back to Sapporo and take a day trip to Otaru and do nothing but wander and read (I am going to out a dent in Proust, damnit!) and write for three days.