I am still not sure how I came up with the idea for this trip. All I know is that when I proposed it to my husband, he was immediately on board. He even agreed to take a couple of days of leave so that we could enjoy seeing northern Japan.
Living on Okinawa is a dream. We are surrounded by beautiful beaches. The greenery here us lush. There are mountains and streams, and it is a wonderful place to explore. However, it is a small island, and the need to get off of the island (even for just a few days) is a real thing. Traveling in and out of Japan is challenging due to the travel restrictions by the Japanese government, but traveling within Japan is actually very simple.
I booked flights from Okinawa to Sapporo, and we arrived in a different world. We traveled the third week of September, when the temperatures were still hot, and the humidity was still at 100% on Okinawa, and we arrived in the north, where the weather was perfect for running and perfect for fly-fishing.
Upon our arrival, we hit our only hiccup, and in the moment, it felt like a biggie. In my attempts to create a wonderful, stress-free get-away for my husband, I took it upon myself to coordinate every aspect of the trip. I booked our flights. They were easy. I booked our Airbnb. It was lovely. (AirBnB: https://abnb.me/cmg0kOuhrkb) I booked our fly-fishing guide. He was amazing. (Fly-fishing guide: https://niseko-flyfishing.com). I booked our car, and it was a disaster. (Note to self: never use a 3rd party for booking a car in Japan. Go straight to the rental agency.)
We arrived into Sapporo, and realized that the car rental agency that I had booked was not only not near the airport, it also did not have a shuttle, nor did it have a working phone number. We arrived so late that we could not walk up to a counter and book another car. In addition, our fly-fishing guide was scheduled to pick us up at 8:00am the next morning, so we could not stay in Sapporo and rent a car the next day. We needed to get to Niseko that night! I could figure out how to get us back to Sapporo for our flight back home. The driving time from Sapporo to Niseko is over 2 hours, and we did the only thing I could think to do….we found a cab driver who would make the long drive. I am still shocked that someone agreed to do it, and I still cringe when I think of the $300+ cab-fare that we had to pay.
We arrived to our Airbnb much later than planned, but we were still able to get a good night’s sleep before our first day of fishing. Hugo picked us up bright and early, and I am still grateful that we didn’t need a car to get from stream to steam. He had it all planned out for us. The rivers were beautiful, but wading through them was not easy. Nick and Hugo seemed to be able to gracefully hop from rock to rock, where I felt like I was going to fall each time I took a step. We would cast in a pool for just a few minutes before it was time to move to the next pool. I waded through the rivers slow and uneasy. I did a little casting, but I mostly just enjoyed being in the beautiful outdoors.
We fished for 3 days, and Nick caught several fish that were unique to Japan. I never caught any fish, and I bugged out the afternoon of the 3rd day. I needed to get us a rental car, and I wanted to carve out time for a run.
On our fourth and final day, we drove around the area, found delicious food, did a little shopping, and I got to hear stories of Nick’s fly-fishing adventures with his dad. I know that fishing with his dad is one of Nick’s very favorite things to do, and he hasn’t been able to do it since we moved out to Okinawa. I had hopes that the trip would give him the opportunity to talk to his dad about fishing and to get to relive some of those amazing memories. I also continue to have hopes that they will meet to fish again someday soon. In the meantime, we will continue to create our own special memories, and we will continue to enjoy being in Japan.