Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Sunday, 09/29/13 Sapporo, Japan

Sunday, 09/29/13 Sapporo, Japan

Took the ship bus to Sapporo -- “On Your Own”. The seats in the bus were very small, a very tight fit for two people. Clearly, the seat width was made for Japanese people, who are smaller than average Americans. The drive to Sapporo was about two hours, and uneventful along an expressway. The scenery was mostly trees and rolling hills. Sapporo, a city of about 2 million, was the site of the 1972 Winter Olympics. Upon arriving in Sapporo, I was surprised that it was a very flat city that did not seem to have a population of 2 million; however, it is the fifth largest city in Japan. Although there were a number of high-rise buildings, there were not many, and most were not very high -- perhaps 20 floors or so for the tallest. To the west, the mountains were quite high, and it was easy to understand how the winter games could be held there.

The bus dropped passengers at the tallest structure in the city, the TV tower, which seemed to be modeled after the Eifel Tower, only it was bright red. The TV tower sits at the eastern end of Odori Park, a long, narrow park running east-west in the heart of the city. The park was originally put there as a fire break in case of fire in downtown. However, it is now a long green strip that is a very pretty park, with a pretty fountain. On this day, there was an Autumn Festival with music and food. The weather turned out to be glorious -- sunny and warm, and since it was a Sunday, many people were out enjoying the weather and the festival.

My first task was to walk to the large -- VERY large -- BIC camera store to purchase a replacement lens hood for my 24-70 Nikon lens. The previous one had been damaged when my camera strap came loose and the camera fell. Fortunately, the lens hood functioned as a cushion, breaking the fall of the camera, and the lens and camera were not damaged. However, I needed to replace the lens hood as well as the camera strap. Fortunately, a young associate spoke English, and he was very helpful in locating the items that I needed. After he learned that I was foreign, he said that I would qualify for a duty free purchase; he escorted me to a clearly marked “duty free“ cash register, and I was not required to pay taxes on my purchase.

After stopping at the camera store, I walked back toward Odori Park to look at the Autumn Festival. I also wanted to visit the large underground shopping center under two of the large downtown streets. When I found my way into the underground shopping center, I was surprised to see how large it was. It was immense, running for blocks under two of the large downtown streets. It was very modern and clean and lighted in a colorful way to make shopping a happy experience. After walking for a while, I stopped at a tea room for some tea and pastries before returning to the TV tower for the bus to return to the ship. Once on the bus, I fell asleep for a while before the bus stopped for a break on the way back to the ship.

Japan is an aging society with a shrinking population, and I expected to see an older population, as in Florida. However, the people on the streets and in the stores were almost entirely younger people. I was there on Sunday, and kids were not in school, so there were a lot of kids out enjoying the nice weather. However, it was really noticeable that there were hardly any older people anywhere I went.

One of the most interesting sights in Sapporo was the way the young women dressed. They dressed in very short, frilly skirts, with adornments to show off their legs. It seemed that most of the young women wore very short skirts, with pretty, frilly shoes, and some type of adornment for their legs. Their skirts all had frilly bottoms -- lace or other adornment at the bottoms of the skirts. Some wore thigh high nylons, with their short skirts clearly showing the tops of their nylons. Others wore garter belts with frilly straps hooked to the tops of their nylons, and clearly displayed below the hems of their short skirts. Others wore nylons that were decorated in many ways, such as a wide seam up the back of the leg, or other pattern in the nylons. Such remarkable attention to detail in showing off their legs.

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