Two weeks have already gone by in Japan!
Following a 17-hour trip, we arrived in Tokyo, a completely different world. On the menu, meetings with the leading ecotourism companies in Japan (Japan Ecotourism Society, Re-born Ecotours…), visit of the Shinjuku park, the Asakusa temples, and the inevitable Akihabara electronic centre (all in one day!). We were surprised by the cost of food, lodging and transportation, so we quickly escaped the electric agitation of the megalopolis for Nikko, a UNESCO classified city. This region, located only one-hour north of Tokyo, shelters numerous temples (including the renowned Toshö-gū), lakes, waterfalls…a little paradise which surprised us with a small four-second earthquake!
For lodging, we quickly opted for the Manga Kissas, 24-hour internet cafés characterized by their thousands of copies of mangas, their small private “boxes” with sofa-bed and computers, unlimited complimentary drinks and ice creams, showers…all for 10 dollars per person (a great discovery for small budgets)!
Following long reflections on our next destination, we finally decided to direct ourselves towards Hokkaido, the north-island of Japan, which includes a great natural diversity and numerous ecotourism structures/activities. Only drawback, the region is threatened by a huge typhoon, and all the ferries are canceled. We therefore had to take a plane to arrive at destination.
We have now arrived! Since the trains represent a big luxury for our small wallets, we manifested our talents in Hiragana (Japanese writing) and our thumbs to give a try to hitchhiking. To our surprise, we rarely wait more than 20 minutes before finding generous volontiers who always insist on spoiling us with drinks, food, and even tickets to the zoo! Despite the language barrier (thank goodness for google translate!), they are more than happy to show us their culture, food and country.
In three days, we have climbed up the Mount Kurodake in the Daisetsuzan National Park (the biggest national park in Japan), spent one night camping at the peak (with 37 degrees Fahrenheit, in the middle of the clouds), and one day hiking through craters, hot springs, and geysers (with 33 pounds on our backs each…the Japanese stared at us eyes wide open!). All to meet one of the experts in ecotourism, Mr. Kazuhiro Arai (interview to come), in a small paddy field village on the other side of the parc. Our learnings and contacts in hand, we are now directing ourselves towards Shiretoko, where we would like to spend time in Farmstays, small farms who welcome tourists with food and lodging (the most popular form of ecotourism in Japan).
That is all for the moment, see you soon for more adventures!