Summertime Be Gone!

Ah yes. The cool Hokkaido summers. Where temperatures stay pleasant and mild. No need for air conditioning. No humidity. These lies still get pushed upon us. Those lies gave us an Olympic Marathon and the ridiculousness of the Run-Walk. (Come on. This is a sport?) These lies kill quite a few elderly people up here. These lies forced me to buy two additional fans this August so I could triangulate an artificial breeze in 36° C. Most apartments up here don’t have air con unless they are very new. Some offices, government facilities, and most shopping malls offer relief. So it’s been rough.

But finally I have been vaccinated. So that brings some mild psychological relief.   It’s taking way too long nationwide. Anyone who has been to the mass vaccine centers here can conclude why. I went to the Sapporo Convention Center. Outside the convention center are approximately 30 volunteers blocking off the parking lot (which is roped off already) and funneling you into the entrance (which is already extremely well marked). Then comes a 4 tier screening, where other staff check and recheck the same form and ask you the same questions repeatedly. Finally, after all that, you get your shot, then are ushered out for another waiting period and final screening/stamp. Probably 10 doctors on hand to provide shots (max) and about 200 other staff doing mostly standing. It’s a long, laborious process. It is Japan in a nutshell. Meanwhile, they are vaccinating people at baseballl games in America. No reservation needed. Comes with free hotdog. (And in some cases free tickets!) The contrasts are absurd.

To keep cool I have sought the refuge of cool mountain streams. There was my usual go to tenkara fishing expedition by bike to Mt. Teine on the Kotoni-Hassamu River (above the Heiwa Waterfall). I did did some deep exploration, climbing over rock walls, avoiding giant hornets, bow and arrow style casting under the thick trees and brush. Managed to to get several white-spotted char (iwana), but a few got away.

Above Heiwa Waterfall, hopping from rock to rock, deep pulls, tough casting
Above the Heiwa waterfall

There were trips to more far flung locations outside the Ishikari Plain. We explored the Kimobetsu River, and other areas west towards the Niseko resorts. Fish out this way can be more selective, but chances of finding larger Rainbow or even rarer Dolly Varden trout exist. Late summer the water has cooled considerably. So wet wading is like going to a natural water park for the day. Very refreshing.

Apparently we are still in the thick of a COVID spike. Not being flippant here, just avoiding the news religiously. When restrictions are lifted, I’m sure I’ll get the message. My news firewall isn’t that thick. Until then we are sticking to the rivers. Which is a good thing because our local park, which provides access to Mt. Moiwa, has been shut down for more than a month because of bear(s) sightings. Personally I think this is a very Japanese over reaction. I mean, bears exists, we are the ones intruding. Unless it is like a pack bears attacking people, stomping on cars in the parking lot, daily. But pretty sure that is not the case.

This really ground my gears. Sometimes there are bears people! Word has it they actually cut down a lot of bamboo near the trails so people could see the bears more clearly, if they are around. Seriously?

But summer is finally winding down. Deep into the teens at night. Winter is coming….

What do you think?