A friend and I headed up north to Sapporo last weekend for
the biannual foreigner migration the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. We got up early on Saturday, drove to Yakumo (which is the best place for people on our side of the peninsula to hook into public transit) and grabbed the highway bus to Sapporo station. It’s takes almost four hours, which is close to twice the time the train takes to cover the same distance, but makes up for it by being half as expensive. Plus, the seats are just as comfortable as the train, if a little more closely packed.
This post is going to be mostly pictures, mainly because all we did was eat, study, sleep, and then take a four-hour long exam.
We did go to Sapporo’s Love Neko Cat Cafe before getting dinner though. This cafe isn’t one of my favorites – the cats are relatively aloof compared to other cafes I have been too. I did make a friend this time, as the owner introduced me to Michael, a cat that doesn’t like to be petted, but prefers to have his back patted rather firmly. He responds automatically, tucking himself neatly along the side of whoever has been conned into thumping him and not moving for as long as said person holds out (I had to stop when my hand went numb).
Here’s the site for the cafe. It’s all in Japanese, but if you see the pink links at the top of the page and click on the one fourth from the left, you can see pictures of the individual cats. The cafe is open from 10AM-10PM year-round and is conveniently located close to Sapporo’s Odori Station. You pay 480 yen for 30 minutes or 1000 yen for an hour. A drink is included if you spring for the full hour. You can take photos of the cats (no flash), but there is also an album of photos taken by the staff that you can peruse. If you’d like your own copy of one of theirs, it’s just 50 yen. You can purchase snacks to give to the cats for 100 yen, just be warned that you will be swarmed and anybody else there will look at you resentfully for inadvertently hogging all of the awake cats.
They have a membership card as well – one hour gets you one stamp, five stamps gets you an exclusive trading card featuring one of the cats. If you fill the entire card (30 stamps), you get a one day free pass to the cafe.
Sapporo has a lot to offer its residents and tourists, but coming in from the sticks, all we were concerned with was visiting Uniqlo and stuffing our faces. A series of unrelated events led to us getting dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Parco. They had a selection of gyoza (Chinese dumplings/potstickers), the best of which had to be these tomato cheese ones (though the soup gyoza ran a pretty close second for me):
After eating, as I said, we literally studied, slept, studied some more, took the exam, scrambled home, and packed it in after midnight.
And of course, we all headed back up the following Wednesday for a conference. Ugh.