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Trip to Shakotan   

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Few days ago, after few weeks being in Sapporo, I wanted to explore the surroundings. As I came to Hokkaido for the nature, I wanted to find a quiet place, far from town, but close enough for a day trip (if you spend more time in the transport than enjoying the place you are going to, it's not really worthy).
A co-worker recommended me to go to Shakotan. "It's one of the most beautiful places I've seen so far in Japan, and it's only 2 hours from here" he said me. So, I decided to go there, despite I had barely no idea what to expect.
I first went to Otaru, and from there got a bus to reach Shakotan. I was probably the only foreigner, and as far as I've traveled, remote and unknown places are always better than touristic spots.

After around an hour in the bus, I got out at a stop called "something-iriguchi" (one of the only kanji I can actually read). I heard before starting my trip there is a tunnel going through the mountain which leads to a small beach with an impressive rock formation. An old woman in the village shew me the way to go and I found the tunnel easily.
It's a strange sensation to walk through a dark tunnel, and, once on the other side, to discover such a spectacular scenery: the turquoise sea, the black rocks in the sea, and the yellow rocks on the land. On one side, it looked like a western american desert, in Nevada or somewhere else; and on the other side, it was just calm a clear blue sea. I didn't feel in Japan again! I spent hours climbing the rocks and taking pictures. As I always do when I see rocks.

I continued my trip along the seaside to reach Cape Kamui by feet. The weather was sunny, but really windy. Anyway, after spending few months in Tokyo, I was so happy to see the sea, and to find a place to be alone. Walking was not a problem at all. Then, I walked across some fishermen villages, and enjoyed the wonderful landscapes: sea, rocks, and snowy mountains behind. Surprisingly, there was no wave in spite of the strong wind.
After 2 hours walking, I realized I had walked only 6 kms... what is pretty slow considering my long legs! I spent too much time taking pictures I guess. So I started to hitchhike because it was the fastest option: keep walking or waiting hours for a bus. I read on some traveler blogs that hitchhiking is not very usual in Japan, but some travelers do it in Hokkaido.

I don't have a real experience about hitchhiking: I did some in Australia and Malaysia, but just a couple of time. After about 30 minutes and 12 cars, a campervan stopped and the man inside picked me up. I first started to speak in Japanese, but his English was better than my Japanese! He was on the way to visit his mother and was glad to have the opportunity to talk a bit in English. After 10 minutes he dropped me off on top of Cape Kamui. Hopefully I found someone to take me there, as the road was pretty steep.
Cape Kamui made me feel to be back home again. Near by my place, there is 2 Capes called Cap Gris Nez and Cap Blanc Nez, which are similar, excepting the mountains in the background. This place is as windy as Cape Kamui was. I had to lean to be able to walk properly!
I took the small trail which snakes across the rocks to reach the end of the cape, with few footbridges. From there the view was really impressive. I understood easily why my co-worker recommended me to visit this place. Unfortunately, the strong wind prevented me from staying any longer and enjoying the sunset. So I decided it was probably time to go back to Sapporo. But the last bus had left few minutes before. Again, I hitchhiked. My only option.
As the sun went down, it became a bit cold. So I walked instead of just waiting on the sidewalk for a lift. On that time, I had to wait around an hour and 16 cars. A grandmother, the mother and a child around 1 year old. They were curious about my presence in Shakutan, which is not easily accessible for tourists. They took me till Yoichi station, about 40 kms from the place I was, where I was able to take a train.
I finally went back home after a very nice day, with just one idea in mind: where will I go on my next day off?

Ulysse (France)
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by chitchatcafe | 2015-05-27 16:24 | カフェ 英会話 札幌

Tongue Twister Time   

Maybe it`s hard to believe, but long before I was able to have a conversation in Japanese I could say 4 Japanese tongue twisters. A tongue twister is sentence that is designed to be very difficult to say. An English student of mine in Sasebo taught me the first one - the one about the frogs - pyok pyko. I actually didn't find it too difficult to say and my Japanese friends cracked up laughing every time I said it. So I started to learn some more - about raw weath, red scrolls or persimmon eating guests. It`s funny how tongue twisters often don`t make any sense.

One of the most popular German tongue twisters is this one: "Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid", which means "red cabbage will always be red cabbage and a wedding dress will always be a wedding dress". I wouldn`t call it a very clever saying - but it`s so HARD to say. For me, it`s almost impossible! I have to concentrate a lot and speak very slowly. And still, it`s quite hard. But maybe the tongue twisters in your own native languages are the most difficult to say. Anyway, I think they`re a lot of fun. I would even say, the more difficult the tongue twister, the more fun it is. And they`re are not only light-hearted linguistic games, but they can also be used to teach English and improve your pronunciation. So I started to teach my student a new tongue twister every lesson and we had a lot of fun trying to say them together. Of course, I soon ran out of tongue twisters and I had to search the internet for more. That way, I learned I lot myself. And I learned something funny about the most popular English tongue twister.

For sure you heared this one before:”She sells seashells on the sea-shore.” Did you know that it is actually based on a real person? It is Mary Anning, who lived in Lyme Regis, England, at the beginning of the 19th century. Lyme Regis is a small costal town and like many others Mary used to collect interessting stones and fossils and sold them to tourists. That is also how she one day discovered a giant skull, that looked something like a crocodile - it turned out to be a dinosaur. Probably, Mary is the first female paleontologist, but hardly anybody knows this. To most people she is just the girl that sells seashells on the sea-shore....

Irene (Germany)

by chitchatcafe | 2015-05-21 15:31 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

Summer is finally here   

Hello to everyone,

The long wait is finally over, summer is finally here. Sapporo goes through major transformations from season to season, and perhaps none as great as the transformation into summer. If you look outside at the evergreen trees, you will see at the tips of the branches lighter green fresh growth. It always amazes me how fast some of the plants grow here once the weather has finally warmed up! I grew up in a pine forest, and throughout the spring and summer the smell of pine was something that was always in the air. Now I realize that the familiar sights and smells here may be a big reason why I like Sapporo so much. If you have ever lived in a big city you may already know that we often take things for granted. The sights, sounds, and smells of nature are something that you do not notice that you miss until they are gone.

Speaking of plants and nature, this week is the Sapporo Lilac Festival. I make it a point to visit every event and festival that I can, and this is no exception. There is something about the smell of these flowers that make me remember the simple times. Being a child, in summer, not a care in the world, when my only worries would be who was going to be my teacher starting in the fall. Also at this festival will be a booth which will be selling Mexican tacos. Even if that is not a traditional festival food, it is a favorite of mine, and I am very much looking forward to eating that.

Maybe we will all see each other in the park!

Douglas (USA)

by chitchatcafe | 2015-05-19 13:30 | 英会話 スクール 札幌