Further Travels in the Land of the Rising Sun travel blog

I'm on a local train headed back to Sapporo. Last night I stayed in a log cabin Youth Hostel on a horse farm in Toyosato, about 2 hours away. It was owned by the parents of one of Akie's friends. She had arranged for me to stay there after I expressed an interest in visiting the Ainu Culture Museum in Nibutani. It's always a bit nerve wracking to take rural trains in Japan. Not knowing if there will be any signs in English but I always seem to manage with the help of a Japanese train schedule app on my iPhone. Akie's friend Yumiko met me at the train station and took me to her parents place to check in. I hadn't ever really stayed at a "youth hostel" and I think I'm technically too old to start now. On this occasion I was the only guest so nobody really seemed to mind. After settling in Yumiko and I went to lunch and then the museum complex. Originally I had planned to visit a "Ainu Village" closer to Sapporo but several people commented on how this was really more of a theme park. I had recently read a book called Our Land Was a Forest" by Kayano Shigeru, an Ainu man who made it his life's work to collect artifacts and record the history of his people. He was from Nibutani and his collection is housed in the museum he built there. While I suspect I could have taken the train back to Sapporo after a few hours, it was nice just to relax at the hostel. I wasn't really sure how things worked with meals so I went down stairs when I began to hear the table being set. It was a bit like my homestay experiences in Japan, sitting down with the family and hoping I didn't offend anyone with my Gajin etiquette. In this case however, A seat was left empty on all sides of me and I was served different food. I suspect this was all intended to make me feel more comfortable but I couldn't help feeling like I had the cooties. After dinner everyone just sort of disappeared so I went up to read until I fell asleep.

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