Sunday, December 5, 2010


Nothing in particular happened on the first day in Furano, but complete chronicles require diligent documentation and thus you are presented below with a description of events which are not necessarily of interest, but did indeed occur and so shall be recorded.

A woman at a tourist information desk explained which bus to take to get to the rider house I’d be staying at. She followed her advice with a smile, a bow, and the following statement:

“Thanks for using our tourist information desk. I hope you’ve found our services to be helpful, and also that you might find a permanent home here, settle down, and meet with me regularly to practice English. Have a good day.”

“Are you kidding, your English is perfect!”

Her response was another polite bow. I walked to meet the bus.

I walked down a narrow, little used path to get to the rider house. Upon entering, it felt like I’d stepped back in time. It was an old, 2-story wooden building offering refuge for tired bikers and cyclists.

The hundred-year-old structure complained with creaks and moans as I walked, and carried on into the evening with various utterances of old age. Wary of the ghosts and spooks that often live in such places, I slowly and carefully walked down the old wooden steps for a bath.

I caught my breath as a figure appeared at the bottom of the stairs.

An old man emerged from the shadows and faced me, but said nothing. We both stood in silence, assessing the situation. Old Japanese men are unpredictable. They also sometimes dislike foreigners and have considerable training in martial arts. I steadied my gaze and tensed my legs.

His wild grey hair moved with life as he broke the silence with a grave warning: “Don’t go in the bathwater without washing first. Understand?”

I nodded yes and proceeded in, glad that the situation had diffused. I pulled on the door to shut it behind me. It clamoured and stuttered as it closed, protesting the movement.


The bath was a hand-built wooden box, full with hot water. It looked more like a waterboarding device than a bathtub. I washed first and entered, imagining the screams of people fighting for their lives to withhold information from angry, brutal captors.

I stretched out as much as possible and closed my eyes but the experience was anything but restful. The old building was again full of noises. The walls creaked and moaned. The ceiling wasn’t quiet either. Tick. Tick. Tick. Thump. Tick. Tick. Tick. Thump.

I tried to relax, but couldn’t. The old man had rattled me. I felt naked and vulnerable, submerged inside the small, wooden torture device. What were all the noises?

A spider above me stared from its web. I swear there was distain in his little spider eyes. I’d had enough. There would be no relaxation tonight, and morning couldn’t come too quickly.

I slept in a big room along with several other guests. Among these guests was the old man, but I awoke alive and unharmed – a fact for which you, my reader, should be grateful, for it means that you will see, at the very least, one more entry in this ongoing journal of mine. If you are still reading, I thank you.


  1. I almost missed this post because I skimmed over the side bar too fast! You hitching journey is so interesting.

  2. In October I traveled to Japan alone. I had my tour arranged by an excellent tour group that I used before.
    I don't speak Japanese. Anyway, this time I missed a train connection, then took a train that didn't go as far as I needed.
    Then I overshot my stop and got off in a deserted station with no one else around and nothing in English.
    I was so frustrated and upset because I was on my way to Imbe and wanted very much to see Bizen pottery. If I missed getting there, I would not be back this way.
    I remembered reading one of your posts about hitchhiking in Japan. It came to my mind. I was only one train stop away form Imbe. I took my biggest piece of paper and started writing Imbe in large letters.
    I'm a 63 year old woman.
    Anyway just then two people showed up and told me a train would come in 15 minutes. So I chilled and got where I wanted to go.
    I am very grateful to have had another option. I enjoy reading your blog.

  3. disdain*

    Awesome blog though=)