Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 7 (Wednesday, June 4)

Day 7 promised a little bit of everything: tourism and travel. Our plan was to spend the morning in Otaru, a city on the Sea of Japan that is a short train ride from Sapporo. Otaru is famous many things: seafood, historic buildings, music boxes, and glass. The city is a magnet for tourists. Many of the sights have signs in five languages.

Upon arrival, we headed downtown, stopping first at the Otaru Music Box Museum. The lower floor was a shop filled with various intricate and fascinating music boxes, many made with glass and quite expensive. My first thought: I have two young boys that love to get on each other’s nerves and often go at each other, regardless of location. I did what any parent would do: I told them, “Stay close and DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING.” The second floor was where the museum was located and contained much more space. The boys loved all of the designs.

The picture below is at the entrance of the museum on the 2nd floor.

The museum has a steam clock in front of it. Click here to see it.

From there, we walked around the city. We passed by a local chocolate shop, with an employee on the street offering samples of green tea chocolate. (And, no, the employees weren’t yelling at people “try sample” like you see in a mall food court.) I liked the chocolate, but it was a definite thumbs down for the boys. A shop down the street was offering wine tasting with wine so sweet I could have mixed it with espresso and ice and made a frappaccino out of it. After that, the boys and I watched artisans at a local glass shop, K’s Blowing, do its work, while my wife and her Mom shopped inside. The boys watched the glass blowers, totally enthralled. The shop offers kids a chance to make glass themselves. Unfortunately, a school class had taken over the shop for the near foreseeable future, so the boys would have been unable to get in for a while.

The big hit of Otaru, though, was lunch. We ate at a sushi restaurant. Our boys experience with sushi consists primarily of the Thai Diner at Discover Mills Mall. So, we ordered them miso soup and rice. However, Andrew noted that the cucumbers looked good, while Christopher looked at what was on Mo’s Mom’s plate and wanted to try it. Leave it to my boys to discover sushi in an expensive restaurant and start begging for seconds.

Even now, Christopher asks for tuna, calling it “the pinkfish.”

After Otaru, we headed south. Our trip to Hokkaido was an all-day affair. The return would be split over three days. Our first stop would be Hakodate and a traditional Japanese hotel with a hot spring. It was the boys’ first time to visit such a place. I took them to the hot bath after dinner that night. They didn’t adjust to it that evening, but then requested another hot bath the following morning and did fine. Below the boys are dressed in the hotel robe, ready to go to the hot bath.

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