Today we drove to Wakkanai (Wack-an-i) the northern most town in Japan. Despite waking to still, sunny weather after the mayhem of yesterday, the forecast is for a storm so we had to get a move on to be sure to reach Wakkanai before it hit. We were warned we could be stuck indoors if it cut up really rough. This region is known for vicious winds and much of the highway north has wind baffles between it and the sea.
Anyway, the weather was beautiful to start with and we stopped at a breakwater/sea wall type arrangement that resembled large golf balls. We had to trek our way through deep snow from the road down to the sea wall. Martin put up a drone and from the air the golf ball resemblance was quite clear. I found them quite difficult to shoot, but there were plenty of abstracts to be had. We couldn't spend much time there though & we headed towards some extremely black sky. Another relatively quick stop was at a boat graveyard. Old fishing boats have been pulled out of the water and left to disintegrate, now covered with snow.
Once we reached the hotel I was very surprised at how western it is. Opulent, with large chandeliers, it's a popular wedding venue. It's also nice to have a good sized coffee mug instead of small 'Chinese' cups without handles & a decent sized bathroom. Dinner was a sophisticated 5 course fusion of eastern & western cuisine. No chopsticks in sight, we had the full silver cutlery thing going on, and the food was stunning. Our rooms do not have any yukuta or slippers either.
We wandered around another working boatyard until sunset, not that the sun made much of an appearance. While the storm doesn't seem to have hit yet, the weather for that last shoot was horrendous. A repeat of yesterday, with horizontal driving snow and very very cold. Even with a pair of finger-less neoprene (arthritis) gloves plus another two pairs of gloves on top, my fingers were sore with the cold. Cold pain is weird, it's not an ache but a very sharp stabbing pain.
I was told today is that most rural Japanese people do not have any heating in their homes. They rug up and tough it out. To say I was shocked is an under statement given the amount of snow here. I also heard several accounts of how tough life is for low income people in this country. The government provides little in the way of welfare and Martin, who has become a Japanese national, and has lived here for 20 odd years now, says they can still be a very cruel people. I'm paraphrasing Martin here; there is so much bowing and scraping to higher ups that people tend to lash out at anyone below them in status. Kiwis are friendly & polite and I get a lot of attention because I say please and thank you to those offering service, from a bus driver, convenience store cashier or hotel employee. The idea of common courtesy to anyone, regardless of status seems an unknown concept here.
One of the streets we passed at the edge of town was completely and utterly clear of snow. It was a hill and the road is heated, usually through thermal energy, to avoid accidents. It was bizarre to see clear asphalt, something we've not seen since we arrived in Hokkaido. The roads on this island are cleared of snowdrifts but the surface is still several feet thick of packed snow. And if the snow is blown off, it's ice under that. Carparks are the worst, totally lethal.
Okay I've done enough rambling, time to go.