Road trip   

Hello everyone!

It’s my first post for the blog and I’m very happy to share with you a little bit of my experience in Japan. I’ve been living in Sapporo now for 3 months, and gonna stay here 2 more months. It means that I am already half way through my stay here, and that is so sad!!!! Don’t wanna leave this country, I really really love it.

To confirm my love for Japan, specially for Hokkaido, I saw, in the last 10 days, the most beautiful landscapes, peculiar and abandoned cities, ate amazing food and had a wonderful time on a road trip through Hokkaido. Me and 4 more friends rented a car and got on the road around the state, camping in every place we stopped.

We left Sapporo and took our way to the West coast. Our first stop was a little unexpected! We found an abandoned school in the middle of the road, and stopped to check what was that about. We discover the school was closed in 1995, and until today there are a lot of materials, books, clothes, and pictures of the students. Super interesting. After that, we went to Haboro, ate some italian food in a tiny little restaurant (probably the only opened one) and camped by the beach. The next day we headed towards Wakkanai, where we slept one night before getting the Ferry for Rebun-to! Rebun-to is one of the most special places I’ve ever been!!! What a cute and peculiar little island. The weather was not good, with a lot of fog, which gave the island a mysterious feeling. Our campsite was in the middle of a pine forest, and we got there by a little bus that goes around the place. However… we forgot to buy food before getting there!!! There was not any shops or civilization closer than 30min by bus, and there was no buses anymore. The night was coming, and everyone was super hungry, so me and my friend decided to go to the road and try to get a ride to the closest conbini. And so we did!!! We got a ride with a very nice old lady, that lived in the Island her whole life! We got food, came back with another ride, made a bonfire to warm us up and had a great time in the forest!

After walking around the island for 2 days, we got the ferry back to Wakkanai, and from there we went straight to Daisetsuzan National Park. The road from the north to central Hokkaido is absolutely beautiful. So much nature and breathtaking landscapes. By the time we got to Daisetsuzan it was already night (and raining!), so we had to quickly find a campsite and get into our tent! One of my friends was too cold and decided for a hotel in the little city at the entrance of the park. We all had dinner together at the city and came back to our camping, where we played cards and had a very nice night with the sound of rain and nature. By the morning, there was a dear right outside our tent!!! We decided to spend the next day hiking the most famous mountain of the region, even though the weather was not got. It was not raining, but there was a lot of fog. Because of that, the way up was super hard! There was still a lot of snow on the path, and sometimes the path was literally a river haha when we finally got to the top, we were absolutely wet! Completely worth it!!! The weather got better, and the view from up there is absolutely amazing. I was so grateful for being there, in the middle of such beautiful and intense nature.

After two days enjoying the endless nature and beauty of the park, we headed towards Furano, experiencing a totally different landscape. The most exciting thing happened at this road: we saw a bear!!!! A real and big one, in the middle of the forest, right next to the road. We were inside the car, and as soon as he saw us, he ran. Very lucky :) We got in Furano by night, and found a very cute Guest House, in the middle of the rice fields, where we spend two nights. During our time in this region, we saw a lot of flowers fields and farm landscapes, which were very beautiful.

I am so grateful for this trip and for having the opportunity to get to see such amazing places and experience special moments. So ready for the next one!

Fabiana (Brazil)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-07-05 16:03 | カフェ 英会話 札幌

Shakotan Trip   

I have now been in Sapporo for 8 months, and I have just finished my second semester mid terms, and I have to say I’m starting to feel mixed emotions about my stay here. This also means I have only half a semester left here, or 8 weeks, meaning my year abroad is coming to an end.
On one side, I am so happy of my stay here: I have experienced so much since I’ve been in Japan. I travelled around Japan in March and to Taiwan and Korea, I saw all wonderful seasons in Hokkaido, I managed to ski so much more that I could have imagined, and I met the most amazing people here in Sapporo. I now only have 8 weeks left to tick off my bucket list all the last things I want to do before going home.
On the other hand, I feel like I’ve overcome the peek of my stay, and I am ready to go home. Most of my friends from home are now on summer holidays, whereas I’m still in class, and after being here for so long I’m starting to really miss Europe, France and my home and family.

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Anyways, my main purpose for this blog today was to talk about an awesome trip I did with my friends last week: Shakotan peninsula!
We decided to leave early Saturday morning to catch the bus from Sapporo station and head to Yoichi first. After half an hour of fooling around to find the right bus stop, we got on the bus. After around 1 and a half hours, we got to Yoichi which was holding a small festival including street food sellers. I got some delicious yakisoba before getting onto the second bus (my love for japanese food is unconditional). The second bus then took us closer to the actual peninsula. We stopped by a first campground which looked very desert and abandoned: there were no showers, no usable toilets, and it was on a dirty beach. I was ready to go find another campground but my friends looked like they wanted to settle there… I didn’t want to!
2 of my friends then found another camping ground 10min from where we were with shelters, a nice beach and grass to put the tent, toilets, and an abandoned onset opposite the road. We decided to lay down our camp there for the night.
We then moved on to doing all the cliche-camping-fun: we went for a swim in the sea (it was so cold!), we played games on the beach, we played the dancing game ‘limbo’, and we tried making a fire before the rain started pouring. However, with the rainstorm about the burst, we decided to have a barbecue under the shelter with roasted potatoes, aubergines, smores and hot water for our cup noodles. We also made mulled wine on the barbecue which is a mix of wine, whisky, sugar and cinnamon: it was so nice!
The night in the tent was a bit cold but the next day we have brunch over the fire, which was finally successful: croissants, coffee, more marshmallows and a couple sausages. We finished the day by walking around the beach and taking pictures of the peninsula, before we had to get our train back to otaku to head home.
I had such an amazing week end, as it almost felt like holidays only 2 hours away from Sapporo!


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Next time we will try and camp in Furano, in July.
These kind of week ends make me realise I will miss Japan way more than I can imagine.

Katia (France/UK)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-06-16 18:21 | 英会話 スクール 札幌

Pink Petals   

So spring has finally come. The floating snowflakes have turned to pink petals of cherry blossoms which have started to scatter across the city footpaths.


To me it was a little sad to see the snow slowly melt away, yet I am glad that the days stretch longer into the evenings now and the sun shines a little longer. But accepting spring did not come easy. I think I had a little bit of seasonal sadness as the snow turned to rain and I no longer had to skate to school on the soles of my boots.


Last month I finally became a first year student at my university. I went to my entrance ceremony along with my classmates. My classmates and I were some of the very few international students in attendance. We walked through the glass doors among our fellow first years all dressed in black suits. I think we must have looked like a hoard of penguins.


In Australia we do not have university entrance ceremonies. We don’t celebrate the entry, we only celebrate the leaving – graduating from university. The ceremony was long and I still don’t know why they introduced every member of staff that sat on the stage. As soon as the names were spoken I am sure most of us students forgot the names soon after.


In Hokkaido we have our entrance ceremonies in the April winds and the melting dirtied snow. I am jealous of those in Honshu who can celebrate their new schooling life under the cherry blossom trees.


But here in Sapporo we can enjoy the cherry blossoms in golden week instead. I rode my bicycle by Maruyama Park a few days ago, the smell of cooking meat drifting up my nose. I can’t wait to sit under the cherry blossoms myself tomorrow, a picnic in the shade of the trees and sipping beer in the sun with my friends.


I love the Japanese culture of appreciating the coming of spring by enjoying flower viewing. Or maybe it isn’t so much appreciating flowers as it is an excuse to get drunk, eat too much and laugh alongside your friends? Although there is nothing wrong with that either.


I’m looking forward to experiencing my first Hokkaido summer after the spring has passed. I can’t wait to see fireworks and wear a yukata with my friends.

But I will still always be counting down to my favourite winter days and a Sapporo blanketed in white.

Jessica (Australia)


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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-05-12 13:54 | カフェ 英会話 札幌

My homestay experience   

Hello everyone,


I would like to share my homestay experience with you! I was lucky enough to participate in a homestay program in March. The program was advertised at Hokkaido University’s International Office and I had to apply two month before I wanted to participate. The application process was easy and straightforward. I had to provide my personal details and my preferences, however I couldn’t indicate where I wanted to do my homestay. I didn’t really mind that, because my aim with this program was to experience living together with a Japanese family, practice my Japanese and to learn about their daily life. Finally, after a month or so, I got a call from the International Office that they found me a family in Wassamu, Hokkaido!
I was really excited to spend 6 nights and 5 days with my family. They were a family of two, my host-dad, and my host-mum. They also had four lovely cats. Before my arrival I had to make sure that they know the time of my arrival so I had to ring them up, and speak Japanese to them on the phone! It was really scary at first, but in the end it worked out just fine, and they came to pick me up from Wassamu station. They couldn’t speak any English, but they were really eager to learn a lot about my country, my family back at home, and the differences between Japanese and Hungarian culture.
They were really welcoming and I felt like home, although far away from home. I bought them a present from Hungary. It was a bottle of Hungarian white wine, my favourite! It seemed to me that my host dad liked it too, because we finished it together the first night I got there!

During my five day stay, they organised so many programs for me, making sure I was always busy and having fun. We went cabbage picking from the snow! I haven’t experienced anything like that before and I really enjoyed it. The snow was up to might waist but trucks cleared the snow out of the way so we could look for the cabbage that were lying there. We pick so much cabbage, we filled the entire truck with it. After that, we took the cabbage to a place where it gets cleaned and packed, ready to go to Tokyo! It was really interesting seeing the whole process and the work they do before these huge boxes of cabbage are sent to Tokyo. I really enjoyed this taking part in such an experience and learnt a lot about agriculture in Hokkaido.
In the end we got to try some of the cabbage, and it was the most delicious cabbage I’ve ever tried! It was so sweet and fresh, and the fact that I handpicked it, from the snow just made it tastier. I think it’s an experience not many international students get to do, so I was really lucky and grateful that my host family organised this program for me.
I tried so many Japanese dishes while I was there. We had sukiyaki, and it was the first time I tried a raw egg. At first I was hesitant to with eating a raw egg, but I didn’t wanted to refuse it, so I tired it. It was surprisingly delicious. I thought that it went really well with the dish, however I was a bit worried wether it’s okay to eat a raw egg, but my host family said that it’s a very safe thing to do in Japan, and it doesn’t carry any bacteria (I wouldn’t eat a raw egg in my country, because it might carry some).
On our last day, we went to an Alpaca farm, and a Picture Book exhibition. The alpacas were super cute, and really fluffy. I fed the Alpaca food, and they didn’t spit on me (luckily!). I really enjoyed the Picture Book exhibition too because the books use easy Japanese that I can read and understand too. In the evening we went to an onset and had jinghiskan. It was a perfect ending to my stay. I spend 5 days with my host family, and I’m already planning my next visit to see them during Golden Week. I am really thankful for their hospitality and for all the great experiences we had together. I’ll be back soon!


Tamara (Hungary)

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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-04-15 17:47 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

Changes   

I’ve finally started my lessons, only a few Japanese classes this week, but full fledged first semester starts from next week. I am a little bit excited about it but nothing abnormal actually to my surprise. I thought I would go crazy with excitement, but I just feel normal about it. Maybe that’s what growing up is, you just feel normal about stuff.


A lot of developments have been happening in my life too, including me and other people, countries at some cases even, so I feel lots of things happening at once, a pace that is little bit too fast for my taste. But I guess during rainy days a good thumbnail to remember is, “Good stuff passes. But bad stuff passes too.”


Speaking of rainy days, what’s with Sapporo these days? The weather was perfectly fine up until last week, now it’s just all hell breaks loose. Yesterday night, was so cold, I actually had to wait in a konbini for a couple of minutes to warm up, and then go back to my home. Hokkaido is just one crazy place. It’s April now I mean, not even the start of it, it’s Mid April, and you still can’t go out without a scarf. And I bought a bike you see, I was super excited to ride it and not be late for school and stuff, but now, whenever I try to ride it, it’s either raining, or a wind that’s so cold and strong it just stops me on my tracks. Calm down a tad bit more, Hokkaido my dear? You’re hurting me, literally. (Note: It’s snowing at this very moment I am writing this.)


I went to a football game the other day with a friend and his kid, between FC Tokyo and Consadole Sapporo which the Sapporo won. As I’m living in Sapporo, I was like “Go ConSa!” the entire match. I guess I’ll go see more games from now on when I have the time. (And the money, aren’t those tickets a bit too much expensive??) Also after the game, we went to a yakisoba place, and guess who did we meet? The game announcer for that nights game! I heard him speaking at the game, and then just casually came to eat yakisoba at the place we were. That was a nice coincidence.


So yeah. Life in Sapporo, I’ve gotten used to it more or less now, some stuff doesn’t excite me as it used to, some stuff I like even more compared to the time I first came here. Life is fun here, I like it. Maybe full of hardships, lots of stuff to think about and lots of homeworks but always, always fun.

Dee (Turkey)



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# by chitchatcafe | 2017-04-13 17:10 | 英会話 プライベート レッスン