Major tip for avoiding check in queues: use the domestic check in counter at the international airport. Brilliant; there was no one there & they didn’t even bother weighing the bags - double brilliant.
I know I have mentioned it before but I am struck every day that the Tokyo train system is so efficient and easy to navigate your way around. Shinjuku Station is the busiest railway station in the world with 3 mio people every day. Apparently the authorities have been gearing up for the 2020 Olympics; improving the English signage at the stations and also the announcements on the trains. The only train we had to be careful on was the mono rail to the airport as it didn’t announce stations.
After a transit stop in Sapporo we eventually arrived in Nemuro, which is on a peninsula on the Eastern side of Hokkaido and it's very very cold.
We had a big get together banquet tonight; 9 different dishes arrived for each person. I tasted them all except for the 'fish pudding' a custard made from fish, tofu, chicken & chestnut. An acquired taste I'm told. And while I tasted a tiny amount (before I knew what it was) I also passed on the raw squid/sea urchin combo and something else with sea urchin in it. The best was the crab sushi. These were those giant red crabs you see being fished through holes in the ice on nature docos.
We are due to depart at 5.40am tomorrow at which time the temperature is forecast for -9 degrees with a wind chill taking it to -15.
The aim of the game tomorrow is sea eagles, white tailed eagles & kites with maybe the odd fox thrown in. The locals hit on the idea of freezing chunks of fish in huge blocks which they chain saw into smaller pieces and then take it out into the frozen lake for the eagles providing shutter bait for any photographer stupid enough to stand out there in -15 temp. I am not a wild life photog so tomorrow will be interesting…