(More photos on flickr - I seem to have removed my day 2 pictures from the computer. Oops.)
The second day in Sapporo we were a little more oriented with our surroundings, so it didn't take us long to walk to the nearby convenience store in the subway to find something for breakfast. I tried a sesame pastry and some juice that contained fruit and vegetables, notable radishes. That was the one drink I tried in Japan that I would rather not repeat. After breakfast we started practicing the dance routines we'd been working on for months. There was actually a little gym in our hostel so we practiced there. The TV crew came to videotape us practicing; it was a little intimidating, but we learned to ignore the cameras and just perform.
At lunchtime, we walked to the nearby 24-hour supermarket and got some food from its bakery. I learned that in Japan, what appears to be one kind of food is often another once you take a bite. I got a sandwich containing what I thought was a breaded fish patty on lettuce. When I actually bit into it back at the hostel, I discovered that it was some kind of creamy potato concoction that had been breaded and fried. While it was delicious, it definitely wasn't fish. We also got to sample white bean sweets, traditional dainty desserts.
In the afternoon we practiced again, and after practice the Sapporo TV crew took us on a tour of some of the city's attractions to tape our reactions.
This was the first place they took us, Mt. Moiwa. It is a small mountain that overlooks the city of Sapporo. They treated us to melon-flavored ice cream, a Hokkaido local specialty. We also spent some quality time in the mountain's gift shop, which abounded with cell phone accessories, Hello Kitty memorobilia, and trinkets related to the marimo, a strange type of local algae. Of course they had personified it into a living character as well, and there were numerous marimo puppets, dolls and keychains and things of that sort. It seems that every living thing in Japan can be characterised as a cute cartoon character. There were cartoon raccoons painted on the sidewalks telling children to look both ways before crossing the street. There were cartoon stuffed animals of every kind in arcades across the town. My personal favourite was a cartoon crying pudding in a job-searching advertisement. It had a giant animated tear running down its vanilla-flavored face, and sobbed 'Find me a job!'
The next intent of the crew was to videotape me and one of my friends eating ramen in a ramen shop, but when our bus passed by the shop was closed. I was relieved; in Japan there is an art to slurping ramen noodles that I have not mastered, and I'm sure the tape would have been interesting. Of course I'm sure they were counting on some amusing mistakes, but I was relieved all the same.
Instead, we went to a Yaki-Niku restaurant. We received plates of various raw meats in courses, and grilled them over a charcoal grill set into the table in front of us. The restaurant was called Gaja, and the atmosphere was very upscale. There was even live lounge music while we were there. The meats we tried were very good, and ranged from pork and ground chicken to squid, and even beef cutlets, an expensive rarity in Japan. For dessert there was a small scoop of ice cream with the ever-present cornflakes as a garnish.
When we went back to the hostel, we were too full to have an intense evening practice, so we just limbered up and stretched for half an hour to get ready for practice the next morning.