Animal footprints on fresh snow. Thin ice floating across a lake. Wind blowing up powdery snow in the air. These almost made me cry.
I arrived at Hokkaido at 13:35 this afternoon. On vacation on Friday.
It was not until yesterday that I found out about the scheduled strike of the airline company, although in Japan, normally companies and the labor unions reconcile the night before the scheduled strikes.
When I arrived at the airport on time, indeed I found that the strike never did happen. But my flight was delayed by 45 minutes!
My carefully arranged bus/lunch/train connections are already in dismay.
I took flight from Tokyo to Memanbetsu airport, which is close to the city of Abashiri, on the coast of Okhotsk Sea. From the airport to the Abashiri station, I take an airport bus. From there I take a train for several stops, get off at Kitahama station, where there is a small cafeteria famous among Hokkaido travelers. My intent was to spend a few hours there, then catch the next train (which means trains comes every few hours during the day time).
I managed to catch the bus, and was barely in time for the train to catch. Abashiri station was the loneliest station I had ever been to, among those “terminal” stations which are represented on maps as big dots. It was smaller than a common local station in the suburbs of Tokyo. And, there was no slope nor escalator nor elevator to cross over the two platforms. I had to carry my heavy luggage all the way up, then all the way down, sweating.
Anyway, soon I saw the coast, the sea. Very lonely but serene landscape. Railway track, some grassy area, beach, waves, huge body of deep water, then white snowy mountain range on the background.
I got off at Kitahama station. A man with a camera took a picture of the train, then got on the train.
The cafeteria has been on vacation since a month ago.
I wondered for a moment whether I should get back on train, but decided against it. I really wanted to come here.
The station was just a platform (one track), a small house divided into a cafeteria and a waiting room. Cafe was of course closed.
I entered the room. All possible surface in the room was covered with scribbles and cards and messages and train tickets of the past adventurers. A simple room, with just 4 seats. I brought in my luggage (so that the contents won’t get frozen), took out a pack of sandwich I bought at the airport just in case, and a thermo mug of coffee from home. I was very well prepared.
After having a quick bite, I ventured out with my camera.
In front of the platform, across the track, is a wide open seashore. The seashore covered in snow, the waves strong. It was sunny, but the light is very weak and powerless. At 14:50, it was already looking like sunset.
I left my luggage at the waiting room, then started walking along the shore. An old woman was taking a walk on the beach, and we exchanged friendly “hi.”
I had never seen the shoreline frozen. Sand, water, plants, rocks, everything was frozen altogether. It was just very cold. And magically beautiful. My eyes started to burn, I almost cried. I was just completely, absolutely happy.
The sun started to sink, so I hurried back to the station. I was sure I won’t find my way back if the sun sets before I do so.
Back to the station, I took out some warming pads, put two in my boots and started wiring this.
Oh, train is approaching. I have to go.