When we told people on the southern tropical islands of Japan, that we were flying next to Sapporo, the biggest city on the island of Hokkaido, they braced themselves hugging their arms, mimicking that we should expect a freezing cold weather.
Indeed, Sapporo is located on the Northernmost Island of Japan, which is fairly close to Russia.
Hokkaido is a winter skiing destination with tall mountains and a lot of natural forest and hot springs.
But summers in Sapporo are far from cold…. In fact, it is so damn hot today, that we needed to buy better hats to shelter ourselves from the bright sun, and we took frequent breaks inside the many air conditioned malls.
Central Sapporo has many malls, because for most of the year the city is very cold, and people prefer to shop indoors, where it is heated and warm.
We are staying at the Cross Hotel, which is very stylish and modern.
The rooms are not very large, but comfortably appointed and lovely.
On the rooftop, there is a Japanese Onsen (bathhouse).
Men and women have separate quarters.
I went there to soak after a long day of flights in which we traveled from Miyakojima to – Okinawa -Tokyo- Sapporo.
We wore the loose grey Japanese Pajamas that were laid on our bed, and went to the eighteenth floor, to soak in the Onsen and to gaze over the city of Sapporo at night.
The next morning we went for a long walk around the city.
In the center of the city, lay a large green boulevard called Odori.
It has many water fountains and public sculptures, and in the winter, it is where the magnificent ice sculptures competition, takes place.
Today, Odori boulevard had a large garden show, with many of the flowers that grow in this Northern region, and a wonderful orchid competition.
The street was lined with vendors selling garden tools, flowers, plants, garden decoration, dried fruit and nuts and garden design services.
The Orchid show took my breath away…
I walked among the amazing varieties of orchids, each with its own beauty and perfection…. Each with its own unique glory…
Some of the Orchid were demure, fragrant and lovely… While others were bold and beautiful, even striking and awe inspiring…
The orchid competition reminded me that once, I met a real shark of a lawyer from New York, who was proud of the fact that he intimidated people.
He had the energies of a person that you do not want to cross… But also of one that you do not want to hug or get too close to…
I felt the harsh energies emanating from him that everyone else sensed, until he confessed to me that he is an orchid lover.
He told me he had a large collection of orchids which he kept in a small greenhouse and that he tended to each one of them with love and care….
He said that he always check for orchid exhibitions or competitions, whenever he travels to another city or State, for business.
He did not say it, but upon hearing this, I felt that he was channeling all his tender feelings and innate care and concern, which he was unable or unwilling to show to other people, towards those beautiful flowers.
After the orchid exhibit, we made our way to enjoy a Ramen lunch.
Sapporo and in general Hokkaido, are famous for the fresh crabs, scallops, sea Urchin and seafood, and for the Ramen noodle bowls.
The Ramen are served with seafood or with pork, and they are cooked with a lot of vegetables in a hearty stewy broth.
It is a meal in a large bowl, and it fits very well, the cold climate which this region usually gets.
It was a very hot day, which is not really suited to a wintery Ramen stew, but we only has a few days in Sapporo, and we wanted to try this local specialty, so we made our way to Ramen Alley to try this local dish.
Most of the Ramen joints, are just a large counter around an open kitchen with low bar-stools.
We chose a Ramen joint that was run by two sturdy looking Japanese, who looked more like big Russians, with teeth that were permanently stained from cigarette smoking.
They looked like retired fishermen, with strong arms and a bit of a hardiness about them.
They dropped the Ramen noodles into the boiling stew, and cooked the seafood to order.
It was very tasty.
We walked the streets of Susukino, a region of Sapporo which has many bars, restaurants and specialty shops.
Jules got a haircut at a local hair salon, and it was one of the nicest and most caring shave he ever got.
They placed a machine with a steaming arm above his head, to soften his skin so the hairdresser can get a better shave.
She also phoned a girlfriend of hers, who spoke some English, to come and to tell Jules that if he will cut all of his hair, he might get a sunburn on his head…
Jules promised her that he will wear a hat, and only after that, she proceeded to shave his head.
She used hot towels a few times, and she made his head as soft as a baby’s butt…
We went into a very stylish ice-cream cafe, and had some green tea Macha ice cream floating in a Macha ice tea.
It was delicious, not too sweet and very light.
This tea house was so stylish with green veins in the glass wall, and with a sloping floor. The chairs had low legs that were cut in different lengths to even the sloping floor and to level the person sitting on them…. It was a very cool place.
We spent some time shopping for things that we needed, and relaxed at the local Starbucks cafe, which is a very popular spot among the young people.
We ate dinner at great sushi restaurant, which required a forty minutes wait to get in…
But it was well worth the wait…
I am adding some photos of our day in Sapporo.
The flowers reminded me of the lesson that Jesus taught about how we need not worry about our space and place in the Universe… How foolish we are to think that we need to “earn our living”….. And to make our bodies beautiful….. To “keep” them healthy and attractive….
We ARE beautiful beloved children of Life…. Just as these orchids are…
“Consider the lilies in the fields, how they grow. They do not toil, neither do they spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…”