Summer 2014: Hokkaido – DAY 2

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

Today, we’re going kayaking. For real this time. Lakes don’t have problems with waves.

Another early start, this time to pick up a rental car. Then it’s out into the countryside.

The sun is out, picking out the beautiful colours of the hillsides. We head onto the highway, and the views drop off a little, but we’re still surrounded by fields, trees and hills. I catch the ocean sparkling in the distance for a fleeting moment.

Once we exit the highway, we take a back road beside a river that twists and turns through pine trees, farmland and then up into the mountains. It’s vaguely reminiscent of the opening to The Shining.  (Or the ending to Bladerunner.)

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Summer 2014: Hokkaido – DAY 1

It’s Grim Up North

– The KLF, It’s Grim Up North

It really, really isn’t, however. Leastways, not in Japan. A lot of people might argue that it’s pretty grim up there in winter but I love Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. The countryside I’ve seen reminds me of Northern Ireland, on a larger scale. Swathes of empty, rolling hills, available in varying shades from brown to green, occasionally breaking upwards into mountains thick with trees. Winding back roads with more animals than people. Signs above the road pointing down to where the edges are for when the snow gets too high.

OK, maybe not that last one.

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