Travel Day, Tokyo to Sapporo

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Up early, I want to do some shopping before we leave at 12:30pm for Sapporo. Run into some of the crew in the lobby, they have the same idea, they are going to Harajuku where I normally go (KiddyLand!!), but I venture off on my own. I get on the Ginza subway line and head for Shibuya and a trip to Tokyu Hands.

Once in Shibuya, hard to get my bearings. I cross one street and end up in an area of guitar shops. I didn't come for that ;) I turn around and head the other way. Arrive at Tokyu Hands as they are opening at 10am. Tokyu Hands is a famous store for tools and woodworking. But they have a whole lot more, 6 stories of everything from furniture to plastic models. Whole floors dedicated to camping gear, bicycles, etc. They even have a floor of wood, where they will custom cut pieces for you. The tool floor is great, but I really don't have room to carry much back, so I just buy a couple of packs of rivets.

Leaving Tokyu Hands, wander around looking in various shops, most don't open till 11am and I have to be back by 12:30pm for lobby call. Head towards the guitar shops, check out a few, nothing really special, so I head back on the subway and stop into Starbucks for a Green Tea Frap on my way back.

Big line at checkout, but they keep it moving pretty fast. 45min drive to Haneda Airport (Tokyo's domestic terminal). Arrive and queue up to check in for our JAL flight to Sapporo. Get my ticket, but then the lady hands me a map, circles something on it and says I have to go there to check my bag. What? Walk 30 or so desks down, put luggage through a security x-ray machine. Waiting to check my bag when one of the lighting guys in front of me is told they can't check his bag because the gate has changed for our flight. We're not really getting what they are saying to us, so we flag down one of our translators, he says that at this time we cannot check our bags. So we get out of line and wait until they tell us we can check our luggage. More than a few of our group has checked their bags already, so now everybody is wondering whether the bags will all end up on the same plane. I feel like we are flying Southwest.

After waiting 35 minutes or so, we finally get to check our luggage and they give us a $10 food voucher. Hurry off to the gate, since I'm not sure if the flight has been delayed or not. Get in line at the food court, and get a bowl of Soba noodles and a coke. Turns out the flight is delayed an hour and 20 minutes. Great. We are on Southworst. Wander around the airport, buy a Japanese Mac magazine, yes I am that bored. Sit down to 'read' my magazine. People start queueing up at the gat about 30min before they even announce we are boarding, and I mean a massive line, as this is a 747 we're flying. As soon as the line starts moving I just merge in and find my way to my seat. Fall asleep before we even take off and wake up about mid-flight and read. As we are coming in to Sapporo, I look out the window and see the beautiful snow covered mountains. Then I look at the ground and it's snow covered too. Looks like we're in Chicago!! It has recently snowed and looks like a winter wonderland.

Get my bags, which arrived safely, and head to the bus. One hour ride to the hotel, of course. Arrive at the hotel, our crew dinner, which was scheduled for 6:30pm has been changed to 7:30, which means we have about 10 minutes to get ready. Meet everyone downstairs and we're off to Korean BBQ. We take off out shoes, put them in plastic bags, and sit down at our tables. They place a grill of burning embers on the tables and bring out a plate of raw meat. At a Korean BBQ you cook it yourself!! We load up the grill with various cuts of beef, pork, and chicken. The one thing I stay away from is the beef tongue, no thank you!!! We are served plate after plate after plate of meat, it just keeps coming... I feel like I'm at one of those Brazillian all you can eat meat restaurants. Best of the night is the scallops, that you cook in a half shell with butter and soy sauce. Much drinking of beer and sake ensues and much laughing as well. Our drummer shows up with his two security guys. He toasts the crew and hangs for a few beers. A few of us, the sober ones, leave around 11:30pm and head back to the hotel in a cab. Off to bed to read.

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