Amazingly I managed an almost entirely uninterrupted 5hours sleep under the dazzling lights of the international terminal, before I caught a shuttle bus over to the domestic wing of the airport. Here I engaged in a pleasant conversation with one of the airport staff which went a little something like this: ‘Where’s your ticket?’ ‘Here’s my convenience store receipt.’ ‘Yes, but where’s your ticket?’, ‘Here’s my receipt’, ‘You need to do a self-check in before you can hand in your luggage’, ‘Here’s my receipt.’ ‘Do you understand what I am telling you?’ ‘I understand perfectly what you have just told me, thank you for your time.’ Eventually I managed to board the plane (¥500 for 9.5 kg of excess baggage seemed incredibly cheap), and even had a reasonably comfortable flight, the only real moment of panic coming when the girl behind me gave out a little yelp at what I assumed to be turbulence, but actually turned out to be the plane landing. Sadly the train journey to Toya wasn’t quite as successful, with my suitcase deciding to shed a wheel just as I was running to catch the only train which could get me there in time to meet my host family. It was thus left abandoned (the wheel, not my luggage) on some small provincial train station platform, and I was forced to carry on with a rather immobile 24.5kg lump of textbooks, clothes, and tears.
The Sasaki family are amazing! They live and work on a vegetable farm, seem to have about a million and one family members, and are just about the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. The early afternoon was spent touring around the local vicinity of Toya and being introduced to everyone that Mr. Sasaki knew, which was a lot of people! I then spent the rest of the afternoon entertaining a group of 4-8 year olds, mainly by holding them by their legs and running around the room. The early evening was spent harvesting crops and packing them for market, and the rest of the night was taken up by eating my own (rapidly expanding) bodyweight in lamb and breaking the family’s Internet connection. Hopefully I’ll be able to fix it before anyone twigs what I’ve done, but this aside it was a pretty spectacular first day up here in Hokkaido, where I really think I’ve landed on my feet.