A delicious Japanese and Western buffet breakfast was followed by a day of relaxation and a wonderful onsen. My body ached like never before, but it had been worth it. This was the best snowboarding I’d ever done, and I’ve got a taste for it again! Alex and Junko had another day of skiiing, then we all met in the hotel lobby and waited for our coach to take us to the airport.
The airport in Sapporo is an interesting place. Stalls selling all manner of Hokkaido-brand product line the corridors. King crabs try in vain to break the rubber bands tied around their claws, Hokkaido chocolate packaged in extravagent and perfectly wrapped gift boxes (in Japan, the way a gift is packaged is more important than the gift itself) and all other kinds of foodstuff are on display. Some shops specialise in the kind of fur coats and scarves that still come complete with heads (the silver fox being an example). It’s a haven for souvenir hunters. I settled for a couple of magnets to send home to my mum, and bought a nice box of extravagantly packaged chocolates to give to Junko as a way of saying ‘thank-you’, for it was her who organised everything. We then went to the gate and onto the plane bound for Haneda airport in Tokyo.
After we landed, we took a train, then changed to a taxi to an area near Roppongi called Akasaka. We checked into a nice little place called Roppongi Mansions, very conveniently located, and more a serviced-apartment than a hotel. We got changed and headed out for a bite to eat and a few beers. Tokyo felt very mild indeed compared to Hokkaido. We had no idea where to go, but soon came upon some busy streets. We opted to go into a smokey, warm and welcoming yakkitori place, a busy little place, loud and brash, where a large after-wedding party were gathered drinking heavily. It was a real locals place, no English anywhere. Junko and Crystal ordered the food, and Alex and I ordered bottles of Kirin beer. We were tired after such a long day, but soon perked up when the beer arrived. The food came shortly after, and Crystal and Junko had chosen some interesting morsels….livers, chicken feet, and something that looked like pickled brain. Not what I was hoping for. Alex and I tried the stuff, but to me, organs just taste like organs….I can’t taste the appeal. Crystal likes them though, but I ain’t a fan of organ breath that’s for sure. I needed something that my palette would deem normal, and so ordered gyoza and some regular yakkitori. This was better. We left full and content and headed back to the Mansion. It had been a long day, and we had a full day of sightseeing ahead of us, back in this crazy, neon-soaked city.