40 days, 40 nights

“There is no mountain high enough in all the world to see the whole world.”

I’ve been here in Sapporo the same amount of time Jesus spent in the desert. This has made me think, not that I am jesus in any way. But I guess I can feel the struggles he’s gone trough when he was put in a strange and desolate place.

My stay in Sapporo has been long enough for me to be comfortable enough to form a solid opinion of everything thats happened. I knew that the region was going to be cold, but I never expected it to as cold as it was. The amount of snow on the streets, all the buildings covered in snow. Everything, absolutely everything was white, like a blanked, but rather than keeping warm it kept cold.

Luckily, these past few days it has been getting warmer. It wasn’t until this week that I could finally see the street that hid under the layers of snow. In fact, its been so good. I’ve managed to fix the tire of the bicycle and gone for a ride. While cycling I was every now and then reminded of home.

Many of the places I’ve been to look oddly sad without all the snow. I guess it has to do with the fact that spring hasn’t yet arrived fully. According to the landlady it won’t happen until the end of April or May. Through my mind all I could think of was that we’re in a period of limbo. Where nothing is dead nor alive, very much a Schrödinger’s paradox. A sense of uncertainty stuck with me…

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The Colourless Izakaya

“If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets.”
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Eating and drinking out in Japan can be an interesting experience. Back in the Netherlands, when the weather allows us to, we go out terrassen. Well, in Japan people got to a typical Japanese bar/pub/restaurant. It actually cannot be described in any way other than the term they themselves use, an Izakaya. Maybe the closest term I can think of to use would be a tavern. Imagine Mos Eisley’s cantina but with a Japanese aesthetic rather than a Tunisian one.
It took us a while to find the place. Everything here seems to be hidden, you can only find it if you know about it. Most of the building look like residences but they are not. They all have multiple floors with each one dedicated to a restaurant or bar. It probably takes more time than I have to truly experience all of them. Luckily , I’m joined by two experts who now the city of Sapporo inside out.

We, Collin and I, went with our two ro
ommates, Alex and Abner (Abunai aka dangerous) and two other persons (our two experts) who help us out on Saturdays, Masa and Motoki. This was the fourth time we went out for dinner the six of us. Unlike the other Saturdays this time we did not want to spend that much money. So, Masa and Motoki brought us to this particular izakaya. Judging from our previous dinners, we did not hesitate when they said they know the best place, price wise.

As we had expected from our guides, the food was great, much better than I had personally expected. We stayed at the place for a few hours, just talking, eating and drinking. That night I had the opportunity to talk to one to he guys, Masa. We started out talking about movies and books. But then the conversation took an unexpected turn.

We were discussing our favourite authors when I mentioned that mine was a Japanese writer, he was curious. The moment I said it was Murakami Haruki, he just laughed. His reaction left me in shock. Was he laughing at me, did he agree with me. I could not read him at that exact moment. No more than 10 seconds later, he said: “I know Haruki-San.” Of course I thought, he is a very popular writer. He replied by saying: “No, I’ve met him. One of my friends is in his circle of friends and introduced me to him.” I was speechless… That literally made my night. It is such a simple thing, I don;t know him or never will probably but here I am in the presence of somebody who has. After that we talked for a while about other writers. Just before leaving I asked him what he still remembers about him, Murakami. Masa thought about it for a while. “I once asked him for advice about women. Haruki-San then told me: My friend, if you really want to hold on to someone you love. Tell her she is beautiful every day. Don’t ever let her forget that your care about her.”