Alcohol is a function of climate, and the Japanese mainland’s great length extends into three distinct alcoholic belts. Shōchū was gone with the cherry blossoms, and on the evening of a long day’s walk it did not escape my attention that sake was now gone, too. Then again, liter mugs of lager tend to draw one’s attention to the fact that one is in beer country, even if the pretty girls at the adjacent tables provide a certain amount of distraction.
The streets had a New York City vibe, the girls were striking and complexly fashionable, the coffee was from Sidamo and the milk was seasonal, and if I hadn’t walked here across a volcanic field, I would never have realized that Sapporo is one of the most isolated metropolises in the world, a Perth or a Firozkoh of the north. It is cut off from the rest of Japan, it won’t have a Shinkansen line until 2030, and in every other direction there is nothing but sea and forests, mountains and mines. But once invited to the birthday party of an American-themed club, the isolation became an abstraction, and we were in the big city now, connected not to the physical world but to every other big city in the world, in invisible and beautiful ways.