Animal footprints on fresh snow.  Thin ice floating across a lake.  Wind blowing up powdery snow in the air.  These almost made me cry.

I arrived at Hokkaido at 13:35 this afternoon.  On vacation on Friday.
It was not until yesterday that I found out about the scheduled strike of the airline company, although in Japan, normally companies and the labor unions reconcile the night before the scheduled strikes.
When I arrived at the airport on time, indeed I found that the strike never did happen.  But my flight was delayed by 45 minutes! 
My carefully arranged bus/lunch/train connections are already in dismay.

I took flight from Tokyo to Memanbetsu airport, which is close to the city of Abashiri, on the coast of Okhotsk Sea.  From the airport to the Abashiri station, I take an airport bus.  From there I take a train for several stops, get off at Kitahama station, where there is a small cafeteria famous among Hokkaido travelers.  My intent was to spend a few hours there, then catch the next train (which means trains comes every few hours during the day time).

I managed to catch the bus, and was barely in time for the train to catch.  Abashiri station was the loneliest station I had ever been to, among those “terminal” stations which are represented on maps as big dots.  It was smaller than a common local station in the suburbs of Tokyo.  And, there was no slope nor escalator nor elevator to cross over the two platforms.  I had to carry my heavy luggage all the way up, then all the way down, sweating.

Anyway, soon I saw the coast, the sea.  Very lonely but serene landscape.  Railway track, some grassy area, beach, waves, huge body of deep water, then white snowy mountain range on the background.

I got off at Kitahama station.  A man with a camera took a picture of the train, then got on the train.
The cafeteria has been on vacation since a month ago.
I wondered for a moment whether I should get back on train, but decided against it.  I really wanted to come here.
The station was just a platform (one track), a small house divided into a cafeteria and a waiting room.  Cafe was of course closed.

I entered the room.  All possible surface in the room was covered with scribbles and cards and messages and train tickets of the past adventurers.  A simple room, with just 4 seats.  I brought in my luggage (so that the contents won’t get frozen), took out a pack of sandwich I bought at the airport just in case, and a thermo mug of coffee from home.  I was very well prepared.
After having a quick bite, I ventured out with my camera.

In front of the platform, across the track, is a wide open seashore.  The seashore covered in snow, the waves strong.  It was sunny, but the light is very weak and powerless.  At 14:50, it was already looking like sunset.
I left my luggage at the waiting room, then started walking along the shore.  An old woman was taking a walk on the beach, and we exchanged friendly “hi.”

I had never seen the shoreline frozen.  Sand, water, plants, rocks, everything was frozen altogether.  It was just very cold.  And magically beautiful.  My eyes started to burn, I almost cried.  I was just completely, absolutely happy.

The sun started to sink, so I hurried back to the station.  I was sure I won’t find my way back if the sun sets before I do so.

Back to the station, I took out some warming pads, put two in my boots and started wiring this. 
Oh, train is approaching.  I have to go.