(Sept 10) Views from a train, cornfields and fast food.
Hokkaido is sometimes compared to the American West, and it does present similar views of flat, open farmland stretching out into the distance with mountains in the background.
To make the comparison even more tempting, the places have a similar history of being settled in the 19th century, to the great annoyance of the original inhabitants.
Still the comparison should not be taken too far. Hokkaido is a wet country, drenched by heavy summer rains and crossed by many rivers, some deep and some fast-moving. The farmland was carved out of dense forests, not prairies.
Numerous cornfields testify to the influence of those 19th century American agricultural advisers.
Some of the cornfields are ringed by a picket line of scarecrows. (Unfortunately they went by too fast for me to get a picture.) I can easily believe the scarecrows are necessary. Hokkaido is full of the biggest, meanest-looking crows you ever saw, and the ones in the cities and towns seem totally unafraid of humans.
Sukiya is the name of a chain of fast-food restaurants. They have been called the “McDonalds of Japan.”
They specialize in cheap, fast donburi (rice bowls with various toppings) which can be ordered in a setto (value meal) with your choice of miso soup, pickled vegetables and/or a raw egg. Conveniently they have an English menu so you can avoid ordering the raw egg if you don’t want it.