I'll write whatever I want, dammit
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It's Enjoy!

Two-day work weeks are most enjoy. It’s already Saturday.

I am staying at the Okura Sapporo. It’s the red brick building in the center-left of this picture (from Wikipedia):
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Lots of mountains, but you can’t really see them from the city. Work is off in the distance, near the mountains. It’s a quick three stops away on the train.

Anyway, I don’t have much to report, and only a couple of pix, but I’ll bore you with them anyway. After work yesterday, we went to Ebi-Kani Gassen (Shrimp-Crab Battle):
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For about $40, you have 90 minutes to consume all of the King Crab, Snow Crab, Hairy Crab, and beverage that you want. We did a pretty good job of it. The crabs are fresh, so they taste a lot better than the frozen ones that we get back in the States. We decided that it might be a good idea to go there again at least once.

Then we went to a pub on the ginza:
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I had a beer, but I wasn’t much up for drinking. Besobaru on the big screen:
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I’m not sure what we are doing today, but I am thinking that tomorrow I might just take a train to Sapporo Dome. Consadole Sapporo has a 1 pm match against Cerezo Osaka. Jim has absolutely no interest in sports, so it looks like I will be on my own (he also doesn’t have much interest in hiking in the mountains, which I am dying to do).

No concerns, though. There is so little crime here that people leave their bikes unlocked in the middle of the city:
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That’s about it for now. The weather will be a bit warmer, and I see that you folks (the ones in the DC area at least) have a beautiful, sunny Saturday coming at you. I’ll take some pictures this weekend and bore you some more - but until then, let’s happy, it’s enjoy!


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Wheels Down in Sapporo

Okinawa is like Key Largo with mountains and jungle, I really enjoyed my stay there. Although it rained and was cloudy most of the time we were there, both of our weekends were sunny and warm.

The native people of Okinawa are more Chinese than Japanese. The cuisine could easily pass for Chinese. Native Okinawans have the longest average life span of all humans. The secret? A balanced diet with lots of veggies and bitter melon, known locally as Goya. It has an obnoxious astringent flavor and must be an acquired taste (which I doubt I will ever acquire), and leaves an acrid aftertaste for many hours - as well as some impressive gastric fireworks. It is sliced and boiled or fried, and looks like this:
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If I had to eat that nasty thing every day, I would rather die young.

The people of Okinawa do not like the Japanese, and they resent all the Japanese who have moved there. They really hate Americans - but who can blame them, most of the Americans there are Marines. There’s like 100,000 American military goobers there, and their average IQ seems to be in the mid-60s. The locals are courteous to foreigners, but by no means friendly. They don’t like the Chinese either, they just want to be left alone. I was constantly aware of the nasty sideways looks they gave me.

But the place is beautiful and warm, and I will miss it. My favorite memory is when we went to the section chief’s house for dinner (barbecue and salads and pasta and beer and lots of desserts). We had dinner on her patio overlooking the valley and East China Sea:
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We met some nice people and sat around watching the sunset, listening to the geckos chirp, and watching the giant fruit bats fly around.

A couple more pics...
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We went for dinner last night at a really good place in the seedy part of Naha. There’s a small ginza there where you can play the numbers, buy drugs, get a hooker, and “pay to watch women do amazing things with bananas and ping-pong balls”... I got no further explanation and none of us were willing to risk our lives and go see what exactly was happening there, although I am kind of curious about what they do with the ping-pong balls.

Oh well, now I am in Sapporo. It is dark and cloudy and bitter cold. It kind of reminds me of Calgary, but a lot bigger and somewhat more Japanese. We are right smack in the middle of the city. I miss Naha already, but I have only been here for a couple of hours and I am willing to give it a chance (I don’t really have a choice, now do I?). Jim likes it better here because they have more beer. The hotel room sucks, it reminds me way too much of the room I had in Chennai (which the Delightful Miss Janet had the opportunity of seeing). There is no ventilation or air conditioning and the window doesn‘t open, so I feel like I am suffocating. The room in Naha was awesome.

The economy is booming here, so there are lots of things to see and do - and the Sapporo brewery is right down the street. This should be fun - or trouble - or both.


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