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The Road to Hokkaido Tour 2006
Day 14: Kuchan to Hirafu
Last night we stayed at Niseko Weis Hotel. It’s a 15 minute drive from Kuchan.
The ski season hasn’t started, so, not surprisingly we were almost the only people in the hotel. The room was nothing special – I liked the room at Towada better. I did like these pajama-type things they had instead of yukata.
The restaurants weren’t open – you had to ask in advance if you wanted to eat there – so we had to drive back to Kuchan to get something to eat.
The hotel was big and empty and outside was pitch black … scenes from Hollywood movies started flashing through my head.
There was something slightly odd about two guys at the front. In Japan when you bow for a few seconds too long it stops being polite.
Maybe they were just nervous because we were their first customers. Or maybe they were cutting the phone lines as we were getting ready for bed …
When I went into the bath there was one pair of slippers but the owner of the slippers didn’t appear for ages. It was raining and there was water dripping from the ceiling …
It was kind of creepy.
But the lotenburo was great. There’s nothing like slipping naked into a hot bath while looking out at the snow.
We had another bath in the morning and there were no other people so we took some more photos.
Today we started looking for a place to live. We went to the information center, a few real estate agencies, the city office and drove around looking for posters on houses.
We stopped to have lunch and coffee by this potato field.
First we looked at an apartment. It was a 3DK for 64,000 yen a month. Next we saw a house. Before they would show it to us they asked us so many questions that I thought it must have been a really nice house and they were worried about the tenants destroying it.
But when I saw it I was like what… it was so run down that I was surprised it was still standing. House number three wasn’t much better.
Then I saw a poster on a shop and I thought “cool … let’s live in a shop!” We rang the number and the woman on the phone said “mmm I don’t think it’s a very good place to live …” but she was really cool and quickly came and showed it to us anyway.
She was right, it wasn’t a good place to live – it was just a shop, toilet, kitchen, no bathroom … and no rooms out the back.
But it got me started dreaming about living in a shop. Hmm what kind of shop should I open?
My boyfriend told me to stop daydreaming and keep looking for signs because we were still homeless and the prospects weren’t looking good.
We were originally planning to live in Hirafu near the ski field. But according to the people at the information center – all the property in Hirafu has been snapped up by Australian developers.
So we changed our mind and started looking in Kuchan. Kuchan is about a 10 minute drive from Hirafu. It’s a small town with all the usual – train station, supermarkets, post office, banks … Hirafu is just a resort town with bars, restaurants, and hotels… So it’s probably more convenient to live in Kuchan.
We got this list from the city office of people who have houses to rent. We rang them one by one and they all said full, full, full until one woman said her place wasn’t available but she knew one that was.
Thanks to her we found a place to live! And it’s a shop. It’s perfect. Just like my daydream. We’re going to move in on Thursday.