I think that many foreigners know the name Hokkaido so they have this idea in their head that it is a beautiful island that will have you surrounded by nature and for many people that is true, but in my case the small town that I am in is surrounded my steep mountains will no trail access so exploring this area is close to impossible. There is only one park in this town that you can hike in and it is only about 2 miles long. For being known as a beautiful natural place I was really surprised that there aren't any national parks in my area. I don't understand why though. Many of the Japanese people that I know love hiking and the outdoors and I have no idea where they are going.
The other day on a Facebook forum about JET Program participants in Hokkaido a new applicant was talking about how she either wanted to go to Hokkaido or Kyoto. I just found that completely hilarious and it showed me just how much people have an idea in their head about a place but in reality they know nothing about it. Hokkaido and Kyoto could't be any more different. Kyoto is an old capital filled with classic architecture and culture. It is extremely hot and known for it's high humidity in summer. In terms of classical culture in Japan Kyoto is the most popular place to visit. Then there is Hokkaido. Hokkaido is very similar to Alaska in many respects. It is a younger part of Japan with a very short history. Just like Alaska there is a native population of people who lived there and the immigrant population of people who basically took over the area. It is extremely cold and the winter is more than 4 months long. Why would anyone say I want to live in Kyoto or Hokkaido? They have absolutely nothing in common.
But spring has finally come. Even though the nights are still cold when I get off of work I have the drive to do things again. Even if it's just go for a drive or play some video games、I'm happy to have the drive to do anything at all. During winter here in Hokkaido there was a point where I would simply go home eat, drink and just wait until it was time to sleep. It was so cold I couldn't play music because my hands would hurt. Also doing photography out doors in extremely cold snowing weather is basically asking to break your cameras.
Yesterday after school I went for about a 30 minute drive to the next town over called Matsumae. One of the teachers at my school told me that the cherry blossoms were starting to bloom and so I thought that it might be a good opportunity to just get out and do something. I walked around a park with my camera snapping photos and even though the cherry blossoms weren't in bloom, it just felt good to be outside enjoying the fresh air. I really missed that about the winter. I know a lot of people take advantage of the great winter sports opportunities that are around here but I am certainly not one of them.
Where I live is the middle of no where, but to be completely isolated and have incredibly cold weather on top of that was too much to handle. Now that the days are getting a little longer and the weather is starting to look more like spring, I am finally able to relax when I leave work. I miss California in that regard. I just took it for granted that the weather was always nice but Hokkaido is certainly nothing like that. It's strange how much the weather can impact your emotional status. I think about all of the places that I could have wound up in the JET program and I ask myself over and over, why Hokkaido? I feel like it has gotten to the point where I am so uncomfortable here that there has to be a reason for me to be here, Like I am supposed to explore my subconscious or search for what actually makes me happy. In any case, summer is coming and I am extremely happy that I will be able to explore this island to a larger extent. Hokkaido is the largest prefecture in Japan by far and I have so far seen very little of it. I am hoping that I get a chance to take a really long road trip this summer with my tiny little car and see what this place actually has to offer.