Leaving Hokkaido was more difficult than I imagined it would be. I had booked a hostel in Sendai via the staff at Ino’s Place and was informed that their front desk closed at 9pm. My train was scheduled to arrive at 7:44pm, so I felt that there was ample margin. However, due to the fact that I forgot my glasses at Ino’s, and had to return for them, I missed that train, and the next train was not scheduled to arrive until 20:30. This was pushing it, but still managible.
However, Hokkaido really wanted me to stay and arranged for the train to be delayed for a reasons only understood in Japanese. The only thing I got from the explaination was “concreeto”, which I took to mean that something had fallen on the tracks and caused the train to be delayed more than an hour. At this point we had missed our connecting train (which only had a 6 minute window to begin with), so there was no way that I was going get to Sendai before my 9pm cut off. I decided to turn back and stay the night at Hokadate instead, but this required getting off at the next stop and waiting an hour for the next train. And then it started to rain.
By the time I found the inn I was looking for, I was completely drenched (having left my umbrella back in Ikebukuro, and not having bought a replacement). The inn keeper, a nice lady named Saito, informed me about the town using a mixture of broken English, Japanese, and printed cards with stock phrases. My Japanese is not really usable, per se, but I’m getting better.
I think I have the ordering food part down from stating what I want, to ordering more beer, to asking for the check. Of course reading the menu and asking for things I don’t already know the name of is still beyond me.
I used this to great effect ordering seafood ramen with squid (a Hokadate specialty), and got a complement from the owner of the establishement that my Japanese was really good.
The folloing morning, I saw that the top of the nearby mountain was frosted over, presumably during the storm the night before. I was happy to see that some new snow had fallen, but I was still in for a treat. As I was leaving town, huge flakes of snow begain to fall. Yuki! I thought, and followed it up with the most complex sentence I could muster: Yuki wa sumoi desu; snow is cold.


4 Responses to “Yuki!”

  1. Deepika Says:

    Hey. Before I left to Japan I got a friend that knows Japanese to give me flash cards so that I could learn on my way there.

  2. Noah Says:

    There’s a Japanese saying “One kind word can warm three winter months”. My Japanese is not good enough to put it together though.

  3. Noah Says:

    Google got a hit for “Yasashii hitokoto wa fuyu no sankagetsu o atatameru”

    But due to the previously pointed out problem of misinterpreting words I would not trust it 🙂

  4. Noah Says:

    literal translation: “Kind word, winter’s 3 months warms”. Works for me.

    More fun with Japanese proverbs: http://www.thejapanesepage.com/kotowaza.htm

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