We finally made it to Japan. We’d bid goodbye to our camper van and spent our last few nights in the United States with family in Seattle, pretending it was just another reunion and not the last time we’d be in our home country for the foreseeable future. Our flight left at two in the morning, a blur of cramped quarters, fitful sleep, and airplane food. By the time we arrived in Sapporo, we were at the tail end of a seventeen hour journey - left with that uniquely terrible feeling of being severely jetlagged, absolutely famished, and too excited to sleep, all at the same time. We shook it off by taking a walk around the city, I was looking forward to having Sapporo beers in Sapporo so we found a little restaurant to do just that. The waitress brought out menus, it’s a good thing neither of us are picky eaters because we had no idea what any of it said. We pointed to a couple things in our price range, and sipped our beers waiting in anticipation, anxious to see what we'd actually ordered. She ended up bringing out a huge platter of raw fish and what I think were radishes wrapped in ham, then deep fried. We experienced our first major culture shock leaving the restaurant, the waitress walked us all the way to the door, thanking us profusely, then stood motionless in a deep bow until we were well out of sight. We returned to our hotel for our first good nights sleep in what felt like forever.
We had one full day to ourselves before we had to be in Iwanai the next morning, and we were determined to make the most of it. I didn’t know it was lavender season when we booked our tickets to Japan, but once we found out it was, we knew we had to get out to the countryside and see it for ourselves. We hopped on a bus to Furano, where there’s a farm known for their lavender, poppies, and sunflowers. We strolled along the fields eating lavender ice cream and drinking lavender lemonade (a very small subset of the lavender-themed goods they sold there). The picturesque landscape was something out of a postcard; I’d heard people talk about “rolling hills” before, but I’d never really understood what that meant until now. Seeing rows of multicolored blooms stretching out before us, rising and falling along with the slope of the countryside - it’s a rural beauty that I’d never seen anything like in my entire life. My dress smelled like flowers the rest of the day.
On the way back to the city we stopped at Miyama Pass, one last look at the rural countryside before heading to our hotel in Sapporo. There were a bunch of frames set out to take pictures in, which is a good idea because the landscape looks like an impressionist painting - hay barrels in the grass, lavender fields in the distance, the Tokachidake Mountain range. We start working tomorrow - sanding, painting, chopping wood, manual-labor type tasks - so we were glad to be able to spend this one day relaxing, running through flowers.