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Bye Bye Koitsu!

Returning to Route 12, or koitsu as we had been calling it, required some adjustments after our pampering at the hands of Otojiro san and his family and friends. The joy of sleeping in a warm bed made the thought of camping again a difficult one. As such, a compromise was needed and we decided that to draw a little more from the budget to stay the night in a guest house would be a necessary sacrifice in order to maintain morale and momentum down to the ferry at Tomakomai. The only problem was finding one. Each town we walked through seemed to be missing the one sign that we were keeping our eyes opened for. Why is it that you can never find the thing you want most when you are actually looking for it? The more we walked, the more hopeless our situations appeared to grow, until that was we happened across a bristly haired police officer by the name of Arakawa san.

A small town ‘koban’ or police box was an unlikely place to find one of Hokkaido’s highest ranked homicide detectives, but it was precisely that change of pace, in addition to a little prompting from his local wife, that resulted in Arakawa san’s decision to relocate to the quieter side of the force. While his generous offerings of sweets and coffee may have masked a determined attempt to keep him company while nothing unlawful continued to happen around, the friendly banter that accompanied the feast more than made up for lost time on the stilts. Eventually our conversation turned to where we intended to stay the night, and as if posing the question opened the floodgates of fear that had been creeping in with each unsuccessful search, we both began pouring our problem out onto Arakawa san’s table. His understanding nods here and grunts of agreement there seemed to confirm our predicament. Koitsu’s reputation had obviously affected the tourist industry badly with not a guest house this side of cooee to be found. But there was a possibility, he offered suddenly. A small guest house that catered mainly to construction workers was just a few kilometers away in the next town. He knew the man and offered to call on our behalf.

“I’ve got two stilt walkers here looking for a place for the night. You could spare a place for them tonight couldn’t you?” he said with an air of authority that seemed more like a statement than the question it was.
“5500 yen?” he repeated as he looked over for confirmation.
Our downcast faces immediately suggested a price out of our range so cupping the phone so as not to let the guest house owner in on our conversation asked,
“What can you afford?”
3000yen was what we had been paying for places much nicer than what we thought anything along koitsu could offer, so we tentatively made that our starting price.
Arakawa san’s nod of confirmation sent him back down the phone on our behalf.
“What about 3000yen. How’s that? Can you do it for that?
The guest house owner was throwing up smokescreens however. The price was obviously not to his liking.
“It’s a bit noisy with workers at this time of year you say”, repeated Arakawa san, letting us in on the conversation as it went.
Our nods, smiles and waving of hands to convey that such noise was definitely not a problem was taken in stride and without missing a beat Arakawa san went for the jugular.,
“That won’t be a problem for them. So I’ll send them over to you now OK. For 3000yen Ok,” his thumbs up confirming our reservation.
But Arakawa san, obviously one with an eye for an opportunity finished with what was for us, the icing on the cake.
“And that 3000 yen will include dinner and breakfast won’t it.”
The guest house owner’s will was gone. How could he possibly try to haggle one of Hokkaido’s highest ranking homicide detectives out of a few thousand yen. It was a futile battle with the now happy stiltwalkers, the victors.

Our second encounter with Hokkaido’s police had left us in a much better state than our first. With only a few kilometers to go before we bade koitsu a much anticipated farewell, our run to the finish was now starting to look much brighter than the guest house owner’s mood.

posted by Mick and Miki Tan @ 5:46 AM,

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