Sunday, 4 November 2007

Fieldnotes Buckshot

Ah... um, I'm still hunting for equilibrium at work, and I'm still being a do-er when it comes to too much stuff, so my head's still somewhat wonky. But mostly in a good way. Here are some scenes from the last few weeks.

I went to see a couple of my students in a sort of community wind orchestra. The orchestra were surprisingly good, and they were really great, and it was an awesome way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I also got to see the inside of the fancy, fancy concert hall here. It was very nice, and outside the leaves were turning strikingly beautiful colours, and there was another car boot sale in the park. I bought a badge from one couple and they gave me something that Tara had been looking at for free, because people are REALLY nice here in Sapporo. She had been looking at a programme for an all female Versaille-themed dance spectacular that I found faintly disturbing.

Later we caught a tram, then a cable-car, then a minibus to get to the top of Mount Moiwa, the largest mountain near Sapporo with the best view. We had some kinda pie-in-the-sky hope of catching the Autumn Leaves Spectacular on the way up, but it wasn't too vivid because night was setting in. Hokkaido is a leafy island and people get very excited about the leaves changing colour. To be honest, from everything I've seen it look gorgeous, and I like leaves too, so their excitement is just fine with me. By the time we got to the top it was night and at night, on top of a mountain, with winter setting in... things get pretty cold. We could only stay outside for a few minutes at a time before running back into the lavishly stocked gift emporium to charge ourselves with warmth.

Sapporo has buses, a limited local rail service, three underground lines and ONE tram (or streetcar if you will) line. The route is particularly peverse, it starts just south of the centre of Sapporo and carves an enormous loop to the South and West of the city, before terminating maybe three blocks south of where it starts. If you went from one end to the other it would be perhaps a forty five minute journey to cover a distance that would take five minutes on foot.

Today makes two weekends in a row that I have caught the tram and had a huge American style hamburger. Today we went back to Yonoji + Jr. Kitchen, whose motto is something like "The cafe where the black labrador sleeps" (because they have a black lab in the corner) and whose burgers I think I mentioned on here before as being deluxxxe killer burgers. Today my burger was cryptically named F40, and was basically two separate burgers, connected by the thin conceit of there being one enormous bun cut in half. It was FANTASTIC, but frankly two meals worth of food.

I also ate jerk chicken this week that was exactly the right side of "unbearably hot". Every mouthful was a delight that was swiftly followed by horrifying pain that would slowly fade to mere numbness. It was great too.

My semi-falied mission for today was to buy some "lighting solutions". My appartment is still feeling much too cold and austere for my liking, and part of the problem is the terrible standard Japanese apaato ceiling light; a stark, white double neon ring. Following some slightly sketchy directions I set off North from Asabu (which, remember, is the most Northen stop on the underground) into the wasteland of suburban sprawl and retail developments, looking for second-hand shops. In the end I found the shops, and saw plenty of interesting places, like the used car lot of dormobiles below, but couldn't find a lamp that I could easily transport back to Asabu (the only one I liked was an ugly 1970s-ish standard metal thing that weighed a ton). I visited a junk shop in which almost everything looked to be broken, from the lamps, to the pachinko machines, to the speakers, to a whole basket full of non-functioning egg timers. I stopped in at book-off and off-house (the "...-off" brand is a huge chain of second hand stores) where there was a one-day sale that necessitated half of the staff be running around the store constantly shouting about the sale, the price reductions, some of their amazing products and how they were in the sale, and subject to the afforementioned price reductions... it wasn't a very relaxing place to shop. The teens out on the corner holding the "Sale Today" (in Japanese of course) cards weren't having much fun either.

Eventually I ended up buying a super-cute little floor-or-whatever lamp, that seems to be just great for now, from that monolith of retail Don. Kihote. Now that Halloween's over by the way, the Christmas departments are starting to bloom. How's it looking over there?

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