Enticing as the subject line is, this is not an entry about geri. And yes, that is an inside joke. Anyhoo, we went to Toya on May 16 and, despite the exhaustion of our Onuma trip, we ended up hopping on the bikes at our youth hostel and biking around the lake to watch the fireworks that happen every night on Toya lake. The area is famous for onsen in the sulfiric excess from two very active vulcanos- Mt. Usu and Mt. Showa-Shinzan (which last erupted in 2000 producing lots of mass wasting). We were informed that the hostel we stayed in would take us to see the fireworks, so we took a $30 cab out there, only to discover we were the only two guests in the whole place. It was, um, awkward. Also, they refused to take us into town. We enjoyed the bike ride in, especially the detour through a sculpture park on the shore. We were totally amused by Sun Palace where we squatted and watched the show in the comfort of the heated second floor hallway. Sun Palace appeared to have about 30 onsen AND an indoor ocean thing. Everyone there seemed drunk and/or Chinese. I pointed out that the Palace was oddly like a land locked cruise ship.
Today, we decided our leg muscles could use even more work, and we hiked up the Showa-Shizan road. There was much debate over whether it was worth it to hitchike 2km. After a brief and crowded cable car trip, we ended up at the summit of Usu-zan. Aron and I are not much for doing what everyone else does. We took the 5km hike around the crater and observed the smoldering remains from about 10 feet below us at times. The sulfiric smell and bursts of steamy hot air were pretty crazy. Japan has something like 100 volcanos, 40 of which are active. From the top of our trail we could see the entire crater from one side and the ocean from the other. Totally worth the 600 stairs we had to climb to get back to our cable car.
I am having a rather nostalgic tour through Japan and remembering my college major as well as possible. Today was a chance for Aron, lawyer/geologist, to make use of his fine Amherst education. For example, I did not make up the phrase `mass waste` in regard to volcanic activity.
Toya is a land of old people in onsen and NO INTERNET. We are happy to be surrounded by the youth and vigor of Sapporo, home of a whopping 4 national breweries. Tomorrow, SAPPORO BREWERY HERE WE COME!!!!
[guidebook note: the Hotel Norte in Sapporo unwittingly sponsored the last several journal entries- we`ve consumed their free computer for the last few hours while experiencing the excitement of a business hotel lobby. Ooooh la la, you thought love hotels were scandalous! Just kidding. Aside from the Celine Dion music and pink walls, this place is pretty tame). At Y5000, we couldn`t pass this up for a love hotel, so sorry if that is the only reason you are reading our journal. Perhaps tomorrow night?]