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There was this Train...

Today, I hopped the train to Hokkaido, and it was long. I transferred trains a few times, so I was able to gain access to some quick snacks and fill up my water bottle, but that was about it. Travelled through much of the country that was hit by the recent tsunami/ earthquake, so I didn't actually meet anyone from those areas. Much of the land I passed through was farm, but more towards the eastern seaboard are the industrial cities. I tried to stay awake for most of it, but I was far too sleepy, and the scenery was far too unchanging. When we started getting into some interesting costal towns almost at the top of the main island, I went to get out my camera to take pictures of the strange and beautiful shingled rooftops... but my camera was nowhere to be found!!! It wasn't in my things, my video camera was gone! I still had all my videos from Toyooka on it! This was the part that made me sick, Joe was so excited about going back to Toyooka so he could do forms in front of the basalt formations, and I lost the video camera! This was just like what happened in Hawaii, except in Hawaii we still had the video camera with the 40 gig hard drive, I had just erased it for no reason after transferring the videos and pictures to my computer and back up hard drive. This was terrible, I truly didn't know what to think of myself. And now, without Joe's camera, I had nothing to take pictures with, except for my shitty camera phone. At the next stop I looked around for disposable cameras, but there were none, nor had I ever noticed any in Japan previously. Damn Japanese and their technology! Too good for shitty disposable cameras!

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The Shinkansen line stops before you make it all the way to Hokkaido, so we switched to a semi-fast train in Aomori, and thats where I noticed that the advertisement on the back of the seat ahead of me didn't look like an ad at all. A closer look showed me that for the next leg of the journey, we would travel under the sea of Japan! I should have realized that there wasn't a bridge between the two islands earlier... but this came to me as a surprise:

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I would later discover that the Seikan Tunnel "is both the longest and the deepest operational rail tunnel in the world, although the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland will be longer when it opens to traffic in 2016."

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That fact did not quiet my disdain for the situation at hand however. So, deep breath, and now, for the next half an hour, I wait, breath, and try to close my eyes, tell myself that I am not in a deep dark tunnel under the ocean...

Deep breath, don't panic!

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While we wait, here are some pictures I looked up on the internet of my previous travels this morning coming from Tokyo through the Tohoku region of the Honshu island (the largest island out of the 4 that make up Japan).

The day started out so promising:

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(Nice wheels)

And when we were coastal to start out, we traveled through some of the industrial cities.

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Then sunny sunny Japan let me fall asleep to beautiful landscapes that I eventually got tired of watching because they were so endless...

Haystacks4.jpgRiceField4.jpgBiggerHouse4.jpgNews-japan..-trains.jpg

Here are some in the overcast, but the day I traveled it was beautiful and sunny.

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And then we came to the lovely costal towns with the rooftops I wanted to take pictures of, but then realized that my camera was in fact, missing.

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And then, it came, the train operator came over the loud speakers to warn us that the tunnel was coming... first in Japanese, for a very long time, then briefly in english, straight, to the point. Here it comes, get ready for the longest, darkest, furthest underwater tunnel you will probably ever travel through:

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I tried reading, but my peripheral vision kept telling me that I was in a tunnel that could collapse at any minute, fill with ocean water, and kill us all... That was also what kept me from being able to sleep. So I settled for closing my eyes, and thinking about the story me and the Kung Fu'ers were writing. This was slightly empowering, and distracting. I came up with some nice moves for the Autumn (based on my little sister) and Reivan (based on me) fight. And then, after a little more panic, it was over, and we were out!

The sun was already beginning to set, so I was getting a little bit worried, but I continued on my way to Sapporo (yes, like the beer). There is no Shinkansen on the north island of Hokkaido, so we now switched to slow trains, and if it wasn't already impending darkness when I arrived on this island, it was black by the time I finally made it to my end destination where I looked up how to get to the hostel. This is almost what it looked like in the town of Hakkodate when I arrived:

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It was a bit lighter, but you could still see all the street lights lit up, so yeah, I wasn't getting off here and trying to find a hostel. I decided if I was looking for a hostel in the dark, it was going to be the one I knew existed, and had basic directions to. Little did I realize, but when we switched trains in Hakodate... we moved to the very slow local trains. I didn't manage to hit Sapporo until after 10pm, and then I got lost, as usual. Thankfully I wrote down the number to the hostel, and someone picked up! She talked me through some confusing directions about which way to walk up the street, then silly land marks to follow, and there were just too many subway stations to tell which one she was referring to, so eventually she had me just wait at the station I originally got off at, and she came and picked me up. I wondered around trying to find this place for about an hour. Once she found me, it took us maybe five minutes to walk to the hostel. Problem was you had to cut through a courtyard to find it, so the street was more of a people path, and the building was mostly not a hostel, but the hostel operated the bottom right corner... very confusing. But I got in before the office closed at 11! (Just barely) And they got me all settled in an extremely nice room! The place used to be a hospital, and now it was only part hospital, part hostel, and so the rooms still had the drag around curtains for privacy. I shared a room with 4 people, 2 of whom didn't show, so it was me and one other person. She was already asleep, so I quietly locked my gear in the bedroom lockers, then I quietly pulled my curtains around my bed. And the best part was, the beds were not hospital beds at all! They were the fluffiest, warmest, most wonderful beds ever! There were several gorgeous sheets and feather comforters cloaked in embroidered duvets, and I swear they fluff their pillows everyday! Quickly I went down the hall to the bathrooms like in a dormitory, got ready for bed, and then had one of the nicest sleeps of my life!

Posted by - Rain 18:06

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wow vanessa, you survived that tunnel! good for you.

by georgi r

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