Doutou Field

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Having exhausted the possibilities for local walks and Kawayu entertainments, we signed up to go out for the day with a guide from Doutou Field. We had a day full of adventures with Ando-san, who worked as a policeman in Chiba until the lure of fishing brought him to eastern Hokkaido.

First we went snowshoeing.

Ando-san, knowing that we were foriegners and likely to be big people, brought his largest size snowshoes. He and Tod talked a lot as we went along. I just walked and watched.

Our destination was Ponponyama, another mountain heated by volcanic forces.

There are crickets hiding under the warm wet leaves here, though we didn't find any. We did see lots of animal tracks on the way in, heard a woodpecker or two, and stumbled across a dead deer.

My best memory of Ponponyama is the colors. The mosses and clay are wonderful red, grey and green colors. The colors of frozen blood and deer fur against the snow were truly lovely. Next website redesign scheme might be "dead deer."

These swans are keeping warm in the sand.

After shedding our snowshoes and warming up with some coffee, we went birdwatching. Along the lake's edge there are places where the water runs warm and birds like to gather. This is Sunayu and it's famous for keeping the swans warm in the winter.

Japanese cranes are huge birds--two meter wingspans.

Tanchou are truly impressive birds--they are very loud and like to flap around at one another. They were thought to be extinct but about 100 years ago someone found a few and started feeding them. Now there are more than 600 at this site. There were nearly as many avid photographers there as birds. You can see them live on the Wild Bird Society Japan webcam.

We made ice cream by filling a fishing float full of salted snow, then tying it to the back of a snowmobile

The most exciting part of the day was making ice cream. Not because of the treat, but because of the snowmobiling. Or rather, the snow mobile accident. Ando-san has a course laid out in front of his house. After Tod went around once without incident, I hopped on the back and rode with him. But on our trip around, he failed to negotiate a curve and we tipped off into the hip-deep snow, landing under the snowmobile. Ando-san brought us a shovel and we dug out the beast while he chuckled and shook the ice cream ball.

I think I got a touch of frostbite from that adventure; my feet got all wet and my ankles look like they are sunburned. The bath felt extra hot that night.

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What a great day. I love the ice cream idea. I was just looking at photos on Corbis - particularly looking for cranes. Your photo is lovely.

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  • Jenn: What a great day. I love the ice cream idea. read more