Post by Eric Wynkoop, TIS parent:
With images of umeboshi (little plums) still dancing in our heads, we got up at the crack of dawn to take in the sunrise from our rooms. After getting ready for an earlier-than-usual departure, parents and students enjoyed breakfast either in Haskap, the stylish hotel restaurant, or in their rooms with food bought the previous nights at the nearby AEON department store. Before we knew it, 7:00am had arrived, and we were off to Chitose train station for our ride to the city of Otaru, about 90 minutes to the west, on the Sea of Japan coast. Our destination was the Otaru Aquarium.
We arrived in Otaru greeted by the beautiful scenery of the deep blue sea lapping at the snow’s edge. Otaru can be a harsh place in the winter, when the winds of Siberia bring quite a chill – and lots of snow, too.
Otaru is also the hometown of Ayush’s grandmother. It was nice to see him making a connection to this iconic Hokkaido fishing town that also occupies a special place amoung our family.
The last leg of our short journey to the aquarium was a 30 minute ride on the local bus through the narrow streets of this hilly town, to the very top where the performing penguins and synchronized sea lions reside.
The following thoughts were shared by Keiden, one of our 5th grade students:
“We went to the Otaru Aquarium. I thought it would be boring, but there were lots of fish and marine animals that I had never seen before. We are lucky that wewere able to take the aquarium “backyard tour,” which was fun. My favorite part during the backyard tour was when we got to touch the live shark and feel its skin texture!
We were also able to see all of the shows, which included otters, penguins, sea lions, and dolphins. At the dolphin show, I sat in a seat where you could get splashed with water, but they didn’t splash water on me at all. Anyway, it was so much fun!”
We all had lunch at the aquarium restaurant, enjoying favorites like miso ramen, katsukare, and seafood chuka-don. With bellies full again, the students spent the last few hours at the aquarium observing, photographing, and discussing the sometimes strange looking, yet beautiful, sea creatures.
Our return journey by bus and “rapid” train brought us safely back to Chitose in time for dinner and an early night’s sleep. Images of umeboshi dancing in our heads…