Hi Andy, what are your impressions of Hokkaido so far?
Well, coming in on the train from the airport, I was looking out of the window at the trees and the houses thinking that it looked a little bit like Holland. There were some very pretty trees. And then i met you in the city and it was like Japan again.
But I'm English.
Yes, I think it was something to do the way you kept saying "sugoi!" at everything.
I'm practically naturalised yes. So when you were travelling through the countryside to get here I'm sure you saw lots of bears. What did you think of them?
They waved at me as I whizzed past on the train. I thought it was very friendly and welcoming.
They don't even train them to do that. The Hokkaido brown bear is a natural host, always warm and entertaining. What were your preconceptions of Hokkaido before you came up here?
I thought it would be colder. My mum told me to wrap up warm. But it isn't too cold. A bit chilly, but not too cold. And I thought that Sapporo beer would be flowing down the mountainsides in fizzy golden streams. I haven't investigated any streams yet, but I will be disappointed if that turns out not to be true.
Well, I'll take you to the factory and you can see the bears who work there bottling it. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. As part of your flash immersion into "Dosanko" culture you also had Sapporo soup curry tonight. How was that?
What's "Donsanko" culture, Alex? Yes, I tasted my first bowl of soup curry tonight, and it was very good indeed. I can see why you eat it every week. I had a level three curry on the hotness scale, as you know, and this was about right for me, but the scale goes right up to ten. A ten must be very hot.
I think ten is what the bears eat. Sorry, I threw that one in to test you. "Dosanko" is slang for someone from Hokkaido. So, what are you most looking forward to doing?
I'm looking forward to hanging out with you, going to the zoo, going up the mountain in a cable car, eating some Hokkaido ramen, and Hokkaido sushi, going to the beer factory and hopefully, if we get chance, playing some music together. Alex, how many pairs of trainers do you actually own?
Hmmmm.... I have four nice pairs now, one chunky pair for outdoorsy stuff, one pair of slip ons for stomping on guitar pedals, one pair of slip ons for going outside, one battered pair for sports... and one pair that don't quite fit me. I'm not sure what to do with them. Does that have anything to do with Hokkaido? Do people in Kyushu have less than nine pairs? I think that's probably a fair amount for Hokkaido. Yes, pretty fair. We're pretty far North here remember.
Yes, I think that the further North you go, the more pairs of trainers a person is likely to have. Alex, one last thing, when the airplane started to descend I looked down to see the sun glimmering on the suface of the sea below, there were some mountains in the background and the setting sun turning the sky a beautiful golden colour. I was coming down from the sky trying to take in all the colours and thinking that the world was a good place to be. Alex, do you feel like this sometimes?
I think I may have looked at the sun hitting the same mountains from a different place and felt exactly the same thing. Sometimes the world is the best place to be. Goodnight Andy!
Yes, it is. Goodnight Alex!
(Andy is guest writing my blog with me this week! He normally writes on his own blog over at Polar Bear Is Dying but I'm going to be sucking his brain dry of ideas this week, so good luck with that Andy!)