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Vic’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 20 Nov 2007

Location: Sapporo, Japan

MapI awoke at 4.30 to a numb hand. I was really tired but it was so bloody hard to sleep on the train. When we got the tickets for the train yesterday, the lady at the JR ticket office asked if we wanted up or down. We had no idea what she meant, and assumed it was to do whether we wanted to sit up or be lying down, so we all chose down. Turns out that she was asking whether we wanted a top bunk or a bottom bunk... There was a little old Japanese lady sleeping in the bunk across from mine. Last night I said konbanwa (good evening) to her and she said it back and chuckled at us.

I managed to sleep a little more, but it was pretty shit as far as sleep goes. I got up when I heard the other boys stirring and was amazed to discover the sun rising over the ocean outside the window. To make it all even better, there was snow covering everything, including the beaches. We gazed out the window for a good hour or two before going for breakfast, where we were once again led into the world of the surreal. The restaurant car was like something out of a storybook. It was a stereotypically styled in a western fashion - perhaps something from the nineteenth century, but all the slightly less noticeable elements were definitely Japanese. We ordered the set breakfast menu which included many small portions of different stuff, and 5 different drinks (water, tea, miso, coffee and juice (yes, all of them)). Our table was totally filled. Of course, this made us very happy indeed.

We did some shopping in Sapporo and gazed at all the bright flashy lights in awe. Apart from Osaka, where we didn't actually spend any real time, this was our first major city visit.

You may or may not like it, but I'm going to be talking about food a lot. We all like food, and Japan is defintely a good place to get it. We visited a quaint little alleyway which specialised in ramen (noodles). It wasn't a very long alleyway but there were dozens of ramen shops along it. each one was a self-contained restaurant with seating. I picked the one which looked the coziest and we stepped in. There was one old(er) guy running the place, and about 8 seats around the kitchen in total. When the three of us were settled in, it felt like we had filled the restaurant. Of course, the restaurant guy couldn't speak a word of english, and we had no idea what we were ordering. I picked the item which had the most characters in it, assuming that it would correlate to a larger, more delicious meal. Well, it wasn't larger, but it certainly was delicious! It was without a doubt, the best ramen I've ever had. We washed it all down with longnecks of Sapporo beer he had in the fridge. How could this day possibly get any better? (Answer: bunnies.)

So after the restaurant, we headed out for drinks. We wanted to find something like a jazz bar, and preferably on a higher lever overlooking the main intersection of Sapporo; this sounds rather specific if it were to be found in Sydney, but we discovered that it was entirely reasonable to expect to find this in Japan. Signage for bars is everywhere, and our intersection of interest was no exception. We liked the sounds of one of them, so we headed up. When the lift door opened at the fifth level, the staff of The Royal greeted us warmly and welcomed us in. While still in the lift, Nick and I flinched at first, and then hesitantly entered after quickly gaining each other's approval to enter. The Royal's staff members were dressed as playboy bunnies. Heels, stockings, some g-string teddy thing, a fluffy tail, bowties, cuffs and bunny ears. We were escorted to a table and thus begain the drinking, relaxing, laughing and remarking of the bunnies and generally how good the place was. The Royal: You & Bunny.

We left The Royal reluctantly after we finished our bottle of syochou, and headed to the bar at the top floor of the Sheraton where we were staying, for this was the classy night of our tour. We ordered classy cocktails and received classy service and classy fried beans as a condiment. I spilled my martini.