Day 26, 27 and 28   NO BICYCLING!  We have been rescued from the typhoon rapidly moving north up the Japan Sea headed for Hokkaido.  It has hit Okinawa and Kyushu, two southern islands and causing havoc all up the coast.   It is time to  reef the sails and batten down the hatches.  

 In Japan, finding a place from it's address can be a near impossibility, even for the Japanese.  The problem is twofold: first, the address is given by an area rather than a street, and second, the numbers are not necessarily consecutive, as prior to the mid-1950's numbers were assigned by date of construction.  During the US occupation after WW2, an attempt was made to bring some 'logic'  to Japanese addresses and many streets are assigned names but the Japanese reverted to their own system as soon as the Americans left.

Now we see why Kanji and Meiko were eager to come get us near Sapporo. Also there is absolutely NO WAY we could have ever found their cabin (or apt. in Sapporo) without them coming to get us. They also seem to feel an obligation to take care of us. It is an amazing custom, no cooking, no washing dishes or clothes, just one word......RELAX!!

And so it is!!  These past few days have been truly GOLDEN!  Meiko and Kanji returned temporarily from cruising a few years ago (Blue Fantasy is now in Borneo waiting their return in Nov) to build a cabin.

 They bought this rural property on the a lake with a volcano in the center, with one thing in mind.  Not the beautiful view of Lake Toya, not the wonderful nature of pine trees that surround them, or the remoteness with Sapporo 1 1/2 hours away. 

They bought this property for the natural hot water spring!!                    

                   You know what that means??

              Yep, THEIR OWN PRIVATE ONSEN!!!


                                                 Their cabin is truly a masterpiece! 

Made mostly of huge yellow Finnish log, natural Japanese woods, natural stones with fossil imprints,  it's interior glows a golden color in the 'asahi' (morning sun).

The natural scents of pine and continuously flowing water into the onsen bath, clear and sparkling, is like sitting next to an outdoor stream in a 'feng shui' garden.    This onsen, indoors on the second floor, juts out over the trees surrounded by glass and open windows.   There is a continual flow of water in and out of the huge sunken stone tub.  Of course a strict onsen etiquette is necessary by scrubbing first, seated on the little wooden stool in front of the mirror and all soap washed off before entering the onsen.  

We do this two times a day.....no tea for me in the morning....

FIRST  the onsen then the tea. 

Meiko and Kanji often use the onsen up to 4 and 5 times a day when working.  RELAX!  That is their balance here that is starting to feel rather comfortable for us.   Is this why the Japanese seem to flow?? 





         Is that really Steve soaking in that onsen twice a day...teaching Kanji new computer techniques.....back in the onsen.....computer....onsen......computer....onsen!!  
       Is it working??  YES!!

The typhoon arrives but we are not affected.   We are in the onsen soaking cares away, watching the wind bend the trees.  Candlelight, for the evening, 'asahi' in the morning.  We take turns....the onsen is the most used room in the house.  Well, except for the gourmet little kitchen, Meiko's sanctuary! 

She loves to cook, just learning mostly since cruising because of her lifestyle.  She was in  training for the Olympic's and setting up Triathlons at the police department which did not allow her time.   She is extremely organized.  The meals flow out onto  Kanji 's hand made wooden table, three huge meals a day, all so meticulously prepared in many tiny dishes, special dishes for each meal, special glasses for drinking, and sake....special sake ! THE BEST! 

Sake is rice wine, fermented rice, they like it chilled and very cold although it can be heated and drunk hot.  Meiko loves the sake...... and the onsen.  Work....onsen.....work....onsen....Ahhhhhh sake......ONNNSEN!!    

Each meal spread before us is a feast for the eyes.  'Nihon ryori' (Japanese cuisine) has been half the fun of traveling in Japan.  We are surprised by the incredible tastes that Meiko prepares even ones we thought familiar.  Here they taste fresher and more delicate.   She makes sauces, pickled dishes, even a tofu with 4 different kinds of mushrooms.  The fresh mushrooms are available all year round.   She even makes us special healthy waffles one morning and brings bread to the table...rarely seen in nihon ryori.    She even makes us fried eggs.....eaten with chop sticks (hashi) of course, but it is the typical Japanese lunch and dinners that we find so amazingly good.     

Kanji is a master carpenter in his own right.  The house if full of his handy work along with artifacts from all over the world.  He is a cruiser, a craftsman, a calm, smiling relaxed man!   He seems to have found the key to universal happiness.  The ultimate effortless perfection!    We are so fortunate to know such wonderful people.....FRIENDS WHOLLY!!!

It is time to head south where it will be warmer and still good for bicycling.  Kanji and Meiko get right into helping clean up the bikes then drive us to the ferry south of Lake Toya .  But not before stopping at the Shikotsu-Toya National Park and the city of Noboribetsu the most popular hot spring resort in Hokkaido.


 The steaming hot pools, sulphur smelling  vents and boiling swamp lake are impressive!  I have been here before years ago although I never did experienced the Dai-ichi-Takimoto-kan Hotels largest bath complex at $20.  It is not until now that I know what it is truly like to have experienced the BEST.....the Meiko and Kanji   *Temple of the Golden Frog!!

* Temple of the Golden Frog:  a precious little frog with suction cup feet found it's way up the glass window over looking our last gourmet meal and was the focus of attention, much amusement.....AND   MAYBE A BIT TOO MUCH SAKE......when it's reflection was perched directly on Meiko's head!  


The typhoon is gone but another is coming.  We must travel between typhoons. 

Hokkaido, Japan's northern island, can not get any better........we decide.   It is time to see another side of Japan....history, shrines, cities, culture.  The nature, with it's brilliant colored flowers, lush green hills and mountains, various animal and bird life, clear lakes and volcanoes and especially the natural hot springs... IS HOKKAIDO!     And we will leave before it's most prized yet to come............... SNOW!


   Goodbye (Sayonara) also to Hokkaido .....we are on our way to Honshu.