Places

Rain and a mine

JR Hokkaido has various discount tickets, one of them a ‘foreign student pass’. It allows you to travel with any train on Hokkaido – including express trains- for three or five days. Also seat reservation is free of charge. I decided to get the five day pass because so far I haven’t done much travelling.

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All aboard...

The first day I went to Yūbari. There I wanted to visit a coal mining museum as well as a waterfall park with a waterfall power plant near by.
My train from Sapporo Station left 10:18am and it took about an hour to get to Shin-Yūbari from where a local one-wagon train led to Yūbari. So far everything went well.

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Like most mining towns Yūbari experienced a massive decline in population as well as financial difficulties when the mines closed down.

Then I had to wait about an hour for a bus, unfortunately it went in the exactly opposite direction so it took another hour instead of a few minutes until I finally arrived at the park like area where the museum was supposed to be. But I couldn’t find it. After walking around for a while I finally found someone to ask. Meanwhile the light rain that had been falling suddenly turned into a heavy downpour and by the time I finally reached the museum I was completely soaked.

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At a café/art gallery near the museum

It’s not particularly big, but seems to cover all important aspects about coal, coal mining and the Yūbari mine. Also it has some information plates in English which I greatly appreciated. The ground floor is all about the formation of coal and it also covers some more earth history and geology. The story above starts with information about the usage of coal –for energy, fertilizers, plastic, etc.- followed by a lot about the history of the Yūbari mine. Intersecting with that was some general mining history, like how tools advanced over time.

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The entrance to the museum area

And then it had an elevator leading down to the mine. By this time I had lost hope to actually get to go underground many times, especially since the museum closes at 4:30pm.

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Miner at work?

It started more as a smooth concrete tunnel with scenes from different time periods displaying how mining used to be done. The generally had a lot of dolls involved especially in the underground part. (And with quite impressively real looking faces as well.)
After they showed a few bigger machines, some in action, visitors were given helmets with head lamps and the route continued in parts of the mine. Most spots were still fairly well-lit though. Also in this part they used dolls and machines to show how work was done although I remember mostly modern equipment.

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Miners at work… a few years earlier I suppose.

After leaving the coal mine I went back through the rain to the station. I figured it would be faster to walk than to wait for another bus. It took me about 40 minutes, including stopping several times to take pictures. Then I had to wait for one and a half hours so I went to a nearby restaurant and had some hot noodle soup and tea to warm up.
Since it was already quite late and I didn’t want to miss any last trains I decided not to go to the waterfall.

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The town hosts the annual ‘Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival’ and there’s a lot of film posters everywhere.

Also the reason there aren’t many pictures from the museum is 1. I wasn’t really sure if taking pictures was allowed and 2. Museums (and mines) don’t tend to be too well-lit and my camera doesn’t like that (and I don’t like flash, ew).

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And the train keeps rolling…

Also also because someone apparently is interested in food stuff, here’s what I had today.

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-Pumpkin okara karintō. Store bought and quite nice.
-Bagel sandwich. Just some vegetables I had in the fridge with some sauces. Nothing special.
-Udon noodle soup with onions and soy sauce? Again, didn’t make it myself, so not sure.
-Fried carrots, egg-plant and tofu, all fried in sesame oil and some soy sauce, I put black pepper to the vegetables and fresh grated ginger on the tofu. Also fresh paprika and baby corn.
-White rice and hijiki-salad with edamame, carrots, aburāge and sesame seeds. Again, added some soy sauce as well as vinegar and konbu dashi.
-Bluberry bagel. I’m boring you, aren’t I?

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