I got the distinct feeling that I was intruding when I pulled up at the door of Pension Polaris at noon, my accommodation for the night. Curtly, I was told that there was room for me but I could only return at 4pm. Peeved at the shortness of Ichiro Baba’s reply and the less-than-welcoming manner of his, I drove off, contemplated choosing another place to stay, then decided against it grumpily because I didn’t have an internet connection to book anything online at a discounted price. Cheap of me, yeah.
In the end, I found myself stopping at various lookout points in the hills and mountains to get a look at Lakes Kussharo and Mashu. The latter is stunning and the former, less so. The soaring temperatures for the past couple of days seem unusual for this time of the year (it was 30 degrees in certain places) and funnily enough, I could walk around rather comfortably in the mountains in a short-sleeved tee with thick snow still around me. The roads are trickier than I thought and dare I say, more challenging than the other mountain routes I’ve driven thus far, complete with the police speed patrol just to make life a bit more bitter and interesting.
Finally returning to Polaris after doing the whole circuit of panoramic lookout points, I dropped unceremoniously into bed with an allergy that had me sniffing (after taking a quick bath, for those of you who are hygiene-obsessed) to shake off the fatigue, no doubt helped along by that big glowing thing in the sky.
Only during the elaborate dinner was it made clear that all my confirmation emails over the past few weeks had been going into the Ichiro’s spam folder; my seeming lack of replies had made him assume I wasn’t coming after all. Being the small, petty person that I am, I showed him my backlog of emails as evidence of my earlier earnestness in wanting to stay at his place.
Now replete with the food, I think I can be magnanimous: Polaris is a beautiful place – despite the grief that spam folders, internet communication and language barriers has given me – combining Japanese clean lines and wood furnishings that the aesthetic part of me greatly appreciates. The 2 cats here help raise the cuteness factor.
Mileage of the day: 239.7 km