Posts by Sophie Yu

18 | Writer | Bookworm | Geek | Philippines

Day 10: One Day More

Today is our official last day (er, entire day) in Hokkaido. Everyone was hastily preparing for the big presentation to the stakeholders tomorrow; we gave our final trial presentation to our fellow coursemates and to the professors in the morning with the remaining of the day for polishing our presentations and resting for tomorrow. I got to say that the trip seems like it happened so fast – it seems like it was just a few days ago when we arrived and were enthralled by the beauty of Kushiro, Hokkaido.

I’ve felt like the entire Hokkaido trip was a life-changing experience and I am very thankful and grateful that I was given an opportunity to come here and meet all these wonderful people along the way. Even when there are days where we each had to face obstacles – both figuratively and literally – we were able to get through them and come out stronger and wiser. The end of the day made me look back on the first few days we were all here – we were all eager to learn new things and make memories; I’m happy to say that both of these aspirations were fulfilled. And so, with a bittersweet feeling, we must head back to Tokyo tomorrow – and, for most of us, back to our respective countries in a few days.

Before coming on this trip, I was searching for a quote that I could write on my notebook cover that I had put aside specifically for this course, and I found the perfect one to describe not only the experience of the trip itself but what I felt too:

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

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Day 9: The Last Hurrah

Today was the official last day of going out for field work and meeting stakeholders – we first headed back to Lake Akkeshi for a bio-survey. We met Professor Masahiro of Hokkaido University and other staff as we quickly dressed in waders and headed for the lake. We first went around the lake, looking what lurks beneath the waters then boarded the small boat and headed further down the lake. A net was cast and we caught what I first thought to be a huge lump of seaweed. As we were transferring the catch from the net to the basket, I was quite surprised to see all the small animals and fishes that were caught in the catch. We went back to shore and started to disseminate the various creatures into separate zip-lock bags then headed for the Akkeshi Marine Station nearby.

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When we entered the lab, we immediately separated our catch in different shallow tubs filled with ice then studied each species. The laboratory analysis of what we caught was very interesting because we got to see a different side of aquatic life.

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After conducting the bio-survey a short lecture followed. We then headed for Cape Aikappu and the Aikappu Museum of Natural History (Hokkaido University).

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The museum was very interesting because it was filled with stuffed animals and the size of them surprised me – especially with the stuffed bear inside!

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The climb – I admit – made me loose my breath, but the view took it away as I regained it. I was happy because I can finally tick the box on my non-existent Hokkaido bucket list: see deer.

All-in-all, today was a very calming day which is the perfect way to end our trips. I’m happy to learn a lot during our trips outside and the best way to show and summarize what we’ve learned and experienced will be through our presentations on the days to come.

Day 8: BBQ and Smores!

The day for the first presentation (in Hokkaido) had finally arrived. We all woke up and started preparing for the day. After weeks of preparation, we finally get to present our findings and observations on our chosen topics. I am in the group Phytoplankton and our topic covered basically Tancho cranes, the problems with Tancho cranes and who are affected by these problems, and a possible solution.

After our presentations, we were all rewarded with a barbeque for lunch!

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After lunch, some of us headed for the nearby lake to enjoy the view.

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We all took today as a time to rest and relax – and, of course, edit and prepare for the next trial presentation later on.

Day 7: Back to School

Yesterday’s adventure consisted of bugs, mountains, a school, a park, and lots of walking; an educational and very rewarding day! We first headed for the Takkobu MoE (Ministry of the Environment) sites for a study tour. Two park rangers gave us various lectures and showed us the different ecologies and conservation efforts in the park.

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We then went on a walking tour to the Takkobu Area Reforestation Project first, then the footpath alongside the Yumegaoka Observatory.

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The scenery was very beautiful and it made the climb worth the view.

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After the hike, we headed for Shibecha High School for the long-awaited hike and presentation.

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We were first showed around the high school after lunch – and I got to say, I was very much impressed by the school and their facilities. I got even more impressed later during their presentations when they showed us what are the lessons that they have learned in the high school such as food making and other agricultural things.

After they presented to us, it was our turn to introduce ourselves, then we grouped up and had discussions about Hokkaido and the environment. I was impressed at how the students were very friendly and how hardworking they are; in fact, they even built us a road just to get through the wetlands!

Yesterday was very rewarding and we were overcome with the hospitality of not only Shibecha High School, but with nature itself as well.

Day 6: One Step at a Time

Today – I would like to admit – was one of the most challenging days for me so far. Thank goodness we were all prepared and dressed accordingly for the challenge of the day. We first stopped by Megumi Park to meet Mr. Kosugi, supporters from the Kushiro Salmon Society, Miss Yasuda, and other local tour participants.

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While everyone went and had their bathroom breaks, my friend and I awakened our kids-at-heart and went for the playground (haha)!

We then went to the Iwabokki Sluice —

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Then the hike – we went hiking for about two hours along the Kushiro River. It was an entirely new experience for me as I’m not much of an outdoor person and have never really hiked before. There was this one part where I actually sank down at almost to the knees near the wet areas of the trek! I felt very fulfilled and proud of myself for being able to achieve what I look at as a great achievement. The nature around the area and the views were eye-opening. The hike didn’t seem like two hours.

We had to say goodbye to our new friends from the hike and headed back to the inn for a quick lunch and for freshening up. We left promptly afterwards for a study tour of the Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport’s restoration sites. We first headed for the Kayanuma Area River Restoration Site then headed for the Hororo Area Wetland Restoration Site afterwards.

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Everyday I learn something from this Hokkaido trip. It never fails to amaze me at how many things are on this planet and how little one person actually knows about it. So after hiking, climbing, ducking, sinking, and walking – we receive the reward of new memories and experiences made.

Day 4: Lazy Tuesdays – Cats and Film

Today was a free day, so we were free to explore Kushiro or stay in the inn to rejuvenate ourselves. I chose to stay in and relax with some friends. We decided to spend the day “cat hunting”, watching various movies / shows, and relaxing in the onsen.

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It allowed me to re-cap the past few days and what we’ve been doing. I realized that time goes by very quickly – in fact, I still feel as if we’ve just arrived from Tokyo yesterday! We’ve learned so many things over the course of the past few days, and I’d like to take this day to think about how fortunate I am to experience and see many things in person rather than to see it through textbooks and lectures. I’m looking forward to the days to come to further broaden my mind.

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