Japan Day 9 - Sapporo to Tokyo

Fletch and I were getting into the groove of packing up and checking out every couple days. We did just that and checked the train schedules heading back down to Tokyo. Most of the trains in Japan run hourly at the least, but for that eight hour journey, our options were slightly more limited. Our choices were 10:44 or 13:30. We opted to try for the earlier itinerary, just incase anything funny happened where tickets were sold out. Best to have 13:30 as a backup option.

We bought our tickets without any issue, and then set about trying to find a quick breakfast. Fletch’s observant eye spotted bagels from a mile away. You don’t often come across bagels in any of the countries where we have spent our last five years. I wouldn’t eat them every day, but when you haven’t had one in months or maybe even a year, you sure do begin to crave that warm, toasted yet chewy bread smothered in creamy cheesy goodness. We even managed to find the cream cheese, which wasn’t half bad considering my experiences with Japanese “cheese” have been questionable to say the least. I texted Jon to let him know where we were, and Fletch went to find coffee. Jon found us and we said our goodbyes, then rushed over to our platform to begin the eight hour journey and two train rides back to Tokyo.

When our first train arrived at Shin Hakodate Hokuto station (it’s really fun to say), I went through the ritual of heaving my backpack over one shoulder and then the other until it was situated squarely on my back. The strap of my dive computer, which I was wearing as a watch, must have caught on the strap of my backpack and broke. Luckily I noticed right away and found the computer, a valuable possession that I would have kicked myself for the rest of the trip and probably eternity if I had lost. The strap could be sent in to be fixed, but I was disappointed to be left without a watch. You don’t realize just how often you glance at them time until the time isn’t there to glance at anymore. I realize that no one wears watches anymore, but perhaps you can relate to that feeling of when you leave your phone behind and continuously go to glance at it, only to find it’s not there.

I bought us some bento boxes at the station before boarding our second train. One of the boxes was shaped like the shinkansen, and looked just like a toy train, except it was stuffed with delicious fish. I stared at it for a long time, wanting to get it for the novelty, but at the same time realizing that it would probably just end up taking up space in my bag. This is why I rarely buy souvenirs anymore. I have fun looking around gift shops, and then come to the conclusion that nothing is worth the space. That’s what five plus years of traveling will do to you.

At 7PM we arrived at Tokyo Station once more, and walked to the Belken Hotel Tokyo this time. This hotel turned out to be in a more residential area. It had been one of the last places I’d booked, and so there hadn't been many options left by that point. The room was 12.5 square meters (135 square feet), and the bed was surrounded by walls on three sides. This was the cramped room that all the Tokyo TripAdvisor reviews had warned about, and this wasn’t even the smallest room available. I said it already, but it’s worth repeating. Always read the square meterage when booking a hotel in Japan.

A giraffe we encountered on our walk to the hotel.

You’d think that the cramped space would have inspired us to flee, and spend as little time in the room as possible, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. Once we were all nestled in, the thought of maneuvering out of the shoebox and back in again seemed like way too much effort. So we decided that we weren’t hungry and spent the rest of the evening laying sideways on the narrow bed and watching Netflix.