"You must have great ocean view on the way to Otaru from Sapporo"
I had got a tip from a friend of mine in Hokkaido. The scene actually I
saw from the train was just as I had been told. Beautiful. Tourists on
the train leaned on the frozen window glass and took pictures. I felt how
much the scenery was impressed on their mind. The train ran on the sea
side. So the window screen was filled with winter Japan Sea. The snow covered
coast line was arched far away to the Otaru city and Shakotan peninsula.
It's mountainous. I saw a group of buildings on the hoot of mountain. 'Must
be Otaru city where I'm going to'
Zenibako, Asari ... the train stopped at local station. There were fisherman's
huts along the beach. It added accent on the sleepy town.
After all, I visited the area several times during my stay in Otaru. On
the day, I got off at Zenibako and was walking down on the snowy road.
There was nobody on the street. 'Stores are closed? Yeah, they must be
open. But no shoppers' Stopped by a soba noodle restaurant. I asked to
the owner "Where is the main street of this town?" "I think
where you've just walked down was main street" "I didn't see
a people out side" "Oh really? Here is a kind of commuter town
for Sapporo, capital City of the region. Yeah, maybe we need some attractions
for tourist" He said with wry smile. 'Well, I come here to see quiet
winter beach. I must get it as a positive factor'
The owner was born in the town, then spent years in Tokyo and came back
to the home. He had been Zenibako for decades. But even so he said he still
loved the scenery between Zenibako and Otaru. I got another fan of the
coast line. Do you have a scenery that you love in your hometown? For me,
may be I don't. The scenery has been completely changed under development,
or me myself have lost sensitivity.
I kept walking along the sea side. Suddenly I was over taken by a man who
brought a huge staff on the head. It's a surfboard. As a people I saw in
Africa, the man hold the board on the head and quickly walked away. You
can do a surfing all the year around. However the mismatched feeling between
surfer and snowy road was pretty eye catch.
He walked really fast although I tried to catch up and wanted to make sure where he was going to. Turn the corner at narrow path. A snow pebble beach was opened in front of me. Then the surfer ran up to the water and started paddling to the sea without any moments. In the offing, several surfers were already standing by for the take off.
In winter, the water of Japan Sea is warmer than air. The wet air makes
a cloud. A surfer can get enough swell by the low pressure. Winter must
be a perfect season for surfing. Yeah, I know that. But it looks really
freezy even they put a dry suit on. Summer sea which I know seems like
more smooth and mild. On the contrary, here the sea looks like a scratched
surface of dark metal. A surfboard etches the metal as snow border etches
the icy snow.
I heard that both snow boarding and surfing were on season in Otaru. You
can go snow fields today, then go to the sea tomorrow. Surf and Snow paradise.
Once I wrote on this column "Winter of Japan Sea must be desolate
and feel like end of the world" However it's more lively than I expected.
On the way back to Otaru, I saw the view of Japan Sea from the train. I
imagined the surfers floating between wave of dark metal and snow clouds.
Suddenly I remembered the lyrics of old Japanese pops "Winter Surfer"
of Yumi Matsutoya.
" Snow path to the sea" Hokkaido, Japan 2016