We arrived in Sapporo in the late afternoon. Sapporo is a huge city - more people live in Sapporo than in all of Hawaii. Up until
that point, we had been dealing with smiling, friendly, people who are used to dealing with tourists. Now we were suddenly among hordes
of typical big-city dwellers. Keiko had warned us to watch out for men outside clubs enticing us to come inside. She said they would
charge us more than the usual rates for drinks. She seemed to think this was the biggest hazard we would face in Sapporo. Actually,
the most dangerous thing was the hordes of bicycle-riding office workers cruising down the sidewalks, intimidating everyone in
their path. I'm serious. I saw several near misses.
Before entering Sapporo, we stopped for a view of the stadium where some of the recent soccer World Cup games were played. Its unique
design allows the snow to blow off the roof in the winter. There is also a statue of a missionary who is remembered for this advice...."Boys
The next day we went to the town of Otaru where we shopped for Kitachi glass items and posed for a group picture. Then we wandered
through a massive mall.
After we had shopped until we could shop no more, we returned to the bus. The sun finally came out, and there was still a little time
left so Keiko decided we should go to the ski jump at Mt. Okura which was used during the Olympic Games in 1972. We rode the ski lift to
the top of the jump and looked out at the incredible view. Now whenever I watch the Winter Olympics, I think of how it felt to look down
the steep drop.
On our final morning in Sapporo we wandered through Odori Park - a block wide park that runs through the downtown. During the annual snow
festival, the park is full of ice sculptures as big as buildings. This time of year it is full of flowers.
We found a botanical garden run by the University of Hokkaido and wandered amoung the flowers and trees. I don't know if it was a joke or just
a work in progress, but we came across one section that said "Canadian Rock Garden". There was nothing there but a huge pile of rocks.
As we headed to the airport for our return to Hawaii, we sadly sang the song Keiko had taught us - "Suki Desu Sapporo". ("I Love Sapporo")
It was a wonderful trip.