Making our way south west. Our last weeks on Hokkaido. Abi with his winter face ;-)
We are treated by amazing winter sunsets.
#realvanlife. We found a laundry machine in a onsen.
The camera crew joins us again and Marleen has her own cooking program.
The crew agrees, Marleen is a great chef!
Time to visit the area of Hokkaido where the native inhibitatants, the Ainu, still share their culture.
The Ainu people have a great relationship with nature and many of their songs, dances and traditions are tributed to nature. Tonight we'll see some of these songs and dances.
The black hair dance. The female dancers clad in traditional costumes embroidered with patterns said to ward off evil. Shaking their head up and down, and swinging their hair wildly to portray a pine tree swayed by winds.
Since with the Circumbendibus project we are eager to meet and learn from people that are living closer to nature, we were trying to meet with an Ainu. Well... we were lucky, through an earlier contact we came into contact with Oki-san one of the greatest Ainu musicians. And he was so kind to invite us to his home. He was just as interested in our lifestyle as we in him. A great evening of sharing experiences and philosophies was the result. More about this later!
Woohoo special night, the Chinaware, well actually Taiwan-ware comes out and we enjoy a superb Taiwanese tea!
After diner we tune out to Oki's spacey tunes and hear about the connection to nature... We tried to record an interview, but that proved to be a difficult combination ;-)
His main instrument is the traditional Tonkori, a string instument. Home made.
On our way west we visit our friends in Furano one last time. We make our way up to a vulcano for a midnight open air onsen! But with 30cm fresh snow and a wind chill temp of -20 C, we might be a bit too enthousiastic...
F*ck it, just be quick!
The next day it was still snowing! After a few weeks what seemed of an early spring, this is good news!
Time to head into the mountains and set some first tracks in the powder! Too bad that half of the runs have already closed down....
... but with all our cars we were able to improvise a shuttle service so we are able to do the closed runs(read: POWDER madness).
Even the farmers were surprised with the return of winter...
They are getting ready for spring, setting up green houses and trying to melt the final layer of snow as soon as possible.
Other techniques to melt the last layer of snow are plowing the field or spreading little pieces of charcoal over the snow which increases the warming effect of the sunrays.
The home of Tatsuya and Emu where many dinners where shared the last weeks. Now we were invited for a farewell dinner.
Good times with good food! Thanks Emu for your amazing cooking!
Everyone has even something prepared for us, what a surprise! This hand drawing of the group is hanging in our van now :-)
Ooh thank you Hizuki for the sweets :-)
Getting ready for the tea ceremony.
Thank you Ayaka for teaching us how to properly make Japanese Matcha Tea.
The next day we continue our journey back to the ferry. Still amazed with the landscapes we are driving through...
Before leaving Hokkaido we also have a farewell -sushi- dinner with the TV-crew. After 2 months of recording it was time to say goodbye! Thank you for the good times and we are very curious for the result! (probably august on the National Television, we'll keep you posted)
As you knew we were nervous if we would get our -unextendible- visa extended... Well, good news! We were granted another 90 days in Japan. And as you all know, we definitely needed that :-) These stamps are the most expensive stamps I have ever seen, 32 euro each, and are meant to be put on the visa extension application form.
Remember the smokehouse we visited when arriving at Hokkaido? We were so impressed with the quality and we would love to learn about the techniques involved. Smoking is a great and tasty technique to preserve many seasonal products. So a usefull technique for our future lives ;-) We were invited by the owner to see the whole proces. More about this in another post.
SPAM in Japan, for those that think Japan is only about quality products ;-)
In Sapporo we try the famous Soup Curry, way better then simply a soup version of the Japanese curry we expected it to be. If you visit Sapporo, defintely give it a try!
Abi entered the boat, we on deck. Hokkaido in winter, you were amazing! Now time to get our winter-faces to spring-faces.
Our own sleeping cabin, for us this ferry feels quite luxureous, it even has an outdoor hotspring overlooking the ocean!
During dinner we say goodbye to the winter landscape. April in Honshu, means spring! Looking forward to it!
And yes, green landscapes. No more (melting) snow. All of the sudden we smell plants again. So strange to realize that for months we didn't really smell the nature... Now let's enjoy the ancient culture and cherry blossom on the main island of Japan: Honshu!