everydaytaichi lucy spreads tai chi aloha to Hokkaido, Japan
Our brand new coach with 888 for its license plate took us all over Hokkaido for a total of 1200 miles. This late spring time trip to see the cherry blossoms started out from Honolulu. We landed at Chitose, and spent time in each of the following places, Sapporo, Tokachigawa, Lake Akan, Abashiro, Sounkyo, Otaru, Lake Toya, Hakodate, Noborietsu and back to Sapporo in 8 full days of fun and unforgettable experiences.
Click on the play arrow for lucy's tai chi video at Nakajima park at 530AM across from our hotel in Sapporo.
Click on the play arrow below for a slideshow on our first morning after arriving on our Hawaiian airline flight from Honolulu to the Nes Chitose Airport to our hotel in Sapporo.
Hanabatake Farm and Cheese Factory was our next stop to see Jersey cows and more as we headed to Lake Akan.
Our cruise around Lake Akan was a bit cold but relaxing, knowing we'd be at a nice hotel with an elaborate buffet, after a long bus ride. We were very fortunate to have accommodations at a lakeside hot spring resort around the lake and the largest Ainu Village was located nearby.
Next we drove to Lake Akan (Akanko), a beautiful crater lake in Akan National Park and one of the clearest lakes in the world. It is home to Marimo, a rare algae species that forms itself into beautiful green balls.
Click on the play arrow below for a short video on the rare algae, Marimo, only found in the waters of Hokkaido.
Click on the play arrow below to see lucy & ken play tai chi with the tranquil lake in the background.
At Higashimokoto Shibazukura Park there are pretty purple cherry blossoms which are very different from the cherry blossoms that grow on the tree. Instead, Shibazukura are lawn cherry blossoms of various colors, pink, white light purple and red moss phloxes. The mountain side is like a lavender carpet with millions of delicate flowers.
Click on the play arrow below to see lucy & ken's tai chi among the lavender carpet of flowers.
Tip Toe thru the tulips...all 200 varieties.
Click on the play arrow below to take a virtual tour to 17 acres of tulips.
We are now getting use to our travel routine: get up before 530 in the morning to meet with our tai chi friends for exercise and 4 sets of tai chi. Go to breakfast, then bring down our bags for a full day of touring. We logged in 1200 miles and looked forward to ending our day with a big dinner buffet usually of seafood galore. Rest our stomach, then onsen time.
We had our share of ice cream of all different flavors!
The spectacular Sounkyo Gorge of 12.4 miles of jagged cliffs and gorgeous waterfalls is known as the Roof of Hokkaido. It was a great locale for tai chi poses!
Pretty Lake Toya provided a great venue for white crane spreading it's wings!!
Our stop to Otokoyama Sake Brewery and Museum was a treat to taste "free" samples and high class sake. Both were good for the price!
Still venting sulfurous fumes today, Showa Shinzan, the reddish cinder cone, stands directly next to Mount Usu, which bears responsibility for the new mountain's birth.
What would visiting Japan be like without eating a big bowl of ramen at the best place in town according to our tour guide?
...we had no trouble adapting to Japanese food and culture!
It would be more fun if Ken could catch these crabs, but seeing them in the market was exciting!
At Hakodate we visited the Usu Zenkoji historical temple which was designated as a National Important Cultural Asset. One thousand cherry blossoms in the park bloom sequentially.
Click the play arrow below for a cherry blossom slideshow.
Click play arrow below fot lucy's cherry blossom tai chi.
A fun oppotunity to catch the "Dancing Tako."
Cherry blossoms galore at Fort Goryokaku,a massive star shaped, Western style citadel which was built in the last years of the Edo Period for the defense of Hakodate against the imperialist threat posed by the Western powers. Over 1000 cherry trees were planted along its moats, making it one of Hokkaido's best cherry blossom viewing spot.
Click the play arrow below to see the how the fort is now a public park with its well manicured grounds.
Ice cream of all different flavors, almost daily!
Sometimes we tried to imitate the sculpture and works of art in the lobby of out hotel. Ken could not help but to "embrace the tiger" after a long day of touring!
Besides cherry blossoms of various variety, we also saw lilacs at Otaru Park!...oops, and one stray azalea.
One of our last stops was to the Hokkaido Shrine that was constructed in 1870 in Sapporo. There was a wedding ceremony and new cars were being blessed.
At Noribetsu Marine Park, the various shows and seeing Nemo, the penguins, sea lions and dolphin, brought back our youth.
Our fourth international trip traveling with our tai chi friends was more than we expected. We were prepared for heavy rain and colder weather. But we were lucky and encountered mild to cold and semi rainy weather throughout Hokkaido. We had fun and appreciate how Japan was clean and proud of their home.
While on our trip we appreciated beauty all around us...even on the outside walls of a walkway on our early morning walk were nicely painted with cranes.
One of the big perks about traveling together is to wake up early to practice tai chi every morning. This routine invigorated us as we did our daily sightseeing. Also, to do tai chi and poses on various locales helped us to remember the new places we visited.
Photos: courtesy of Brian...Mahalo!
To try to stay awake on our bus rides, we'd look out for wildlife along the way ... we were not disappointed as Derrick spotted a FOX and Ken found a deer.
Mahalo to our expert tour guide, Derrick, for making this a memorable and fun trip.