Feature Story

The World’s Greatest Athlete

The World’s Greatest Athlete How Olympic Decathlete’s Japanese Heritage Led Him to Gold Bryan Ezra Tsumoru Clay is an Olympic Gold and Sil...

Feature Story

Hiroshima Survivor Hideko Tamura Snider

Hiroshima Survivor Hideko Tamura Snider Educating the World on the Consequences of Nuclear Weapons Hideko Tamura Snider was a child when t...

Feature Story

Life after Hiroshima

Life after Hiroshima Mike Kawamura: A Survivor’s Dreams for World Peace Ikunosuke “Mike” Kawamura is a survivor of the 1945 Hiroshima bomb...

Feature Story

Japan House Los Angeles Perspectives on Japan: Art, Culture, Design, and Technology

Japan House Los Angeles Perspectives on Japan: Art, Culture, Design, and Technology Yuko Kaifu, the daughter-in-law of former Japanese Pri...

Feature Story

EXILE: A Quest for Eternal Success

EXILE: A Quest for Eternal Success Interview by Anthony Al-Jamie and Elizabeth Mays Photographs by Shane Karns EXILE is an all-male J-po...

Feature Story

Dancer and Actor Naoki Kobayashi

Dancer and Actor Naoki Kobayashi From EXILE to Hollywood Over the last decade, Naoki Kobayashi has carved out a place for himself in Japa...

Feature Story

Naomi Kawase’s Vision

From Nara, Japan to the Tokyo Olympics Naomi Kawase’s Vision for the Future of Film and the Next Generation One of Japan’s most promine...

Feature Story

Tetsuya Bessho

Tetsuya Bessho Redefining Cinema through Short Films A veteran actor, producer, and radio presenter, Tetsuya Bessho is no stranger to the ...

Feature Story

Yoko Narahashi

Yoko Narahashi Casting Director Casts Light on the Hollywood and Japanese Film Industries Yoko Narahashi is an acclaimed Japanese casting ...

Feature Story

Rempei Tsukamoto

Rempei Tsukamoto Film Director and Screenwriter Rempei Tsukamoto is a talented Japanese film director and screenwriter with years of exper...

Feature Story

In a League of His Own: Peter O’Malley

In a League of His Own: Peter O’Malley Former Owner of the L.A. Dodgers and Ambassador of U.S.-Japan Baseball Peter O’Malley, a member of ...

Feature Story

Jim Press: A Driving Force in the Automotive World

Jim Press A Driving Force in the Automotive World Former Toyota North America and Chrysler President Discusses Working for a Japanese Com...


TJ Expert

Four Decades of Rock in Japan

Four Decades of Rock in Japan Legendary Rock Photographer Bob Gruen in Japan I first arrived in Japan with Yoko Ono in August 1974. I stoo...

TJ Expert

Being Like a Rock in a Tea Garden

Being Like a Rock in a Tea Garden ...

TJ Expert


Shadows ...


Big in Japan: Welcoming Foreigners and Promoting Respectful Exploration

Welcoming Foreigners and Promoting Respectful Exploration Tokyo has been hard at work on the mammoth task of preparing for the Tokyo Olympi...

Haitian Culture & Politics

Haitian Culture

Synopsis of Art by Artists of the Haitian Diaspora One of Haiti’s greatest exports to the world is its beautiful art. To illustrate t...


Living “as” Nature not “with” it

Living “as” Nature not “with” it Ilya Prigogine, a late Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, once wrote in a book of h...

TJ Expert

Photo Album from Cuba

Photo Album from Cuba: “A Midsummer Night’s Memory” There were nights when each of their dreams gathered. The dreams beca...

Travel & Food

Figs and Ham Tart

Figs and Ham Tart For making last-minute meals, I always try to have a few key ingredients at home. I keep a few rolls of frozen puff pastr...

Travel & Food

Chef Ben Ford

New American Comfort I have memories from my childhood of my mother and father packing the car for our annual summer stay in Wisconsin. Int...


Mari's Homemade Cooking Recipes

Mari's Homemade Cooking Recipes How to Make Miso-simmered Mackerel Ingredients (4 Servings)Miso broth: 4 tablespoons miso 4 tablespoon...


Global Educator David Nunan

Teaching to the Heart and Head In teacher education seminars and conferences, a common warm-up task is for the workshop leader to ask parti...


Sex Pistols

Sex Pistols In the fall of 1976, I met the Sex Pistols for the first time when Malcolm McLaren took me to Club Louise in London. That same ...


On Japan

MacArthur and Me

MacArthur and Me I once met United States General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. I had seen him before, from a distance, when he was drivin...

On Japan

The Warlord and the Wimp

The Warlord and the Wimp In this excerpt from his Japan Journals, Donald Richie learns what separated leaders from losers. ...


J-flicks in the USA

J-flicks in the USA U.S. Releases of Japan-Related Films ...


Awa Sparkling Sake: International Debut at Tokyo Olympics

Awa Sparkling Sake: International Debut at Tokyo Olympics Champagnes and sparkling wines have long been used to celebrate milestones from F...


The Four Seasons of Japan

The Four Seasons of Japan From white to pink to green to red and yellow, the beauty of Japan changes in each of its four distinct seasons. ...


Hotels in Tokyo

Tokyo Hotels Tokyo Journal sent a celebrity review team to stay at some of Tokyo’s top hotels. Dylan Sprouse is an American actor and entre...


Kyoto: Japan's Cultural Capital

Kyoto Japan’s Cultural Capital Kyoto was Japan’s capital city until 1868. Today, it is widely considered to be the country’s cultural capi...


Osaka: Japan’s Amazing “Water City”

Osaka: Japan’s Amazing “Water City” Osaka, at the mouth of Odo River on Osaka Bay, is not high on the list of most foreign visitors to Japa...


Success Built in Japanese Products

How the Japanese Build Success into Their Products The Japanese have a culture of achieving a profound degree of refinement in the products...

Travel & Food

Model Jessica Minh Anh Visits Japan

Supermodel Jessica Minh Anh Visits Japan Supermodel Jessica Minh Anh visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Fukushima to explore potential catwalk venues...

Travel & Food

Yosakoi Festival

Yosakoi Festival Tokyo Yosakoi (dance festival) is the second half of the Fukuro Festival, which has been an annual tradition in west Ikebu...


Tokyo Hotels

Tokyo Hotels Hotel New Otani Excellent Service in a Serene LocationEstablished in 1964, this superbly designed luxury hotel is known for i...


Serviced Apartments in Tokyo

Serviced Apartments in Tokyo If you plan to stay in Tokyo for more than a week or two, you may want to consider a fully furnished and servi...

Travel & Food

Koshu Wine – Indigenous to Japan

Koshu Wine – Uniquely Indigenous to Japan When it comes to Japanese alcoholic beverages, most people think of sake. But in recent yea...

On Japan

The Barges of the Dead

The Barges of the Dead Donald Richie is struck by a haunting apparition at the seashore in this excerpt from his Japan Journals The follow...

japan on ¥425 a day - part II of the odyssee3

Written by TJ  | Created: Monday, 22 October 2012 06:22
Last Updated: Monday, 22 October 2012 06:33  |  Hits: 5491

The woman manning the counter at the Tokyo Tourist Information Center had boasted, "Hokkaido is a hitchhiker's paradise!" It wasn't the kind of information I expected from the office, but she was more than right. Hell, you don't even need to hitch. I was merely confused, scanning a city map of Hakodate when a couple stopped and offered to drive me where I needed to go.

My original theory has been amended. Those who speak English are given a lesson with my notebook serving as a whiteboard. The others become my Japanese teachers. Everyone gets my manga sticker, and like previously, my payments are usually food, coffee, and cigarettes. I still yearn for cash payment and even more so now that I'm in the red. The ferry to Hokkaido cost a whopping ¥1010!

Early evening west of Sapporo Kazumi and Yuka, a middle-aged couple takes me to their home in Asahikawa. I feel slightly awkward staying with a family that spans three generations, but surprisingly all goes wonderfully smooth. I tutor their two daughters in English, use my improving Japanese with Obachan, and devour every delight placed in front of me. It's as if Kazumi and Yuka have returned from Sapporo with a giant stuffed bear that can talk and interact. I shower, shave and am stuffed with a seven-course breakfast the following morning. Yuka prepares and boxes a lunch and I'm deposited at a perfect spot on Route 40.

Takashi, a Coca Cola rep, is on his way to Wakkanai to check on malfunctioning machines. Other than a filling lunch, we swill four styles of Georgia coffee (Coke products) en route. Takashi cherishes being my last link in connecting the extremes of Japan so drives the extra 27 kilometers to Cape Soya.

Russia's Sakhalin Island is in our sights and adrenaline rushes through both of us. At Japan's final frontier, Takashi is more excited than I, bragging to strangers of my accomplishment and his part in it. Others take photograph us as though we have just landed on Venus. I almost wish I were there. It will be frigid tonight.

The lengthy sunset here is like no other I have ever witnessed as an emerald tone dominates the sky for hours. During this time I set up camp on the bluffs and stroll around the fishing village. My eyes bulge suddenly. Rows of giant squid and/or octopuses hang in a small building where workers are diligently cutting the monsters and draping them over a metal bar. I take two steps into the driveway and hope to be invited for a chewy feast with the locals. A large man, apparently the crew foreman, spots me.

"Dame!" he screams. He grabs a stick with blade attached and marches straight for me. Initially, I thought he was joking. I've never experienced this type of behavior in Japan. I back out to the street and treat him like a territorial pit bull. He certainly acts like one. The angry fisherman reacts as though I'm the mongrel, holding his scythe high while removing the keys from the ignitions of two small trucks. I tuck my tail and scoot back to my tent.

Minutes after dusk the temperature plummets from 23 to 8 in a matter of minutes. A quick lesson in solar energy and I'm in bed before any local schoolboy.

Northern Hokkaido is primitive. You're forced to manually flush public toilets. If I had been blindfolded and dropped here, I would have guessed I was in Kentucky, or perhaps Queensland. Dilapidated barns, cows and tractors dominate the landscape. Crippled cars are often propped on cinder blocks. You could film a redneck movie here.





Staff Continued

Our Poll

What is your favorite city in Japan?

Tokyo - 49.4%
Kyoto - 17.4%
Osaka - 11.9%
Sapporo - 19.6%
The voting for this poll has ended on: December 30, 2022

Tokyo Journal

© 2023 Authentasia, Inc. All rights reserved