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merry christmas from chitose

The Colonel dressed as Santa
I don't know why but Chitose near where I'm staying has Christmas fever. There's Christmas decorations everywhere, and Christmas music (carols and other seasonal American songs) are playing in the background. This Colonel, at a Japanese KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken to all you old timers) was dressed out in a Santa suit right near one of the entrances into the store. I would have eaten there except they were cash (Yen) only and wouldn't take plastic. I've since fixed the yen problem, finding out that the hotel will exchange dollars for yen at the rate of 97 yen to the dollar. Tomorrow I'm going to have my Japanese KFC meal.

Looking down from the ninth floor
I walked around the hotel a bit, exploring the nearer blocks, keeping the hotel in view to avoid getting lost. So far I'm remembering landmarks, so that I can begin to walk farther and farther on my explorations. This view from the ninth floor gives you an idea of the weather here; it's cold and snowy. I haven't seen snow on the ground in years. It's been cloudy since I've been here, and early this evening when I went out for supper I walked through snow snowers.


I've had a deep appreciation for Japanese car design, especially the more interesting designs. This Mitsubishi compact is a model not seen in the US (at least, I certainly haven't seen it). And there are models and entire car brands driving around Chitose I've never seen before. A lot of the vehicles have the same basic design as this Mitsubishi, a squared off vehicle devoted mostly to interior space, with just enough for the four wheels and a very small but efficient power plant. Front wheel drive can give you a lot of those design capabilities. It would appear from reading that all Japanese urban centers are dense, requiring an automotive solution similar to this. Not quite the same in the sprawling US urban centers, although those days are coming. Note that the Mitsubishi has four doors on the side as well as a hatch in back. I really like this car.


My wife will kill me, but I ate at a local Japanese McDonalds tonight. And spent real yen (finally). What's surprising about buying food here is the price: it's no more expensive buying in Chitose than in Orlando, Florida. The food, interestingly, tastes exactly the same. I would have thought there might be some small Japanese touches, but outside of the printing and the menu (it's definitely showing different items), it's no different than any McDonalds I've eaten at in the US and Canada. Except this one minor detail. When at this McDonalds, don't ask for diet Coke, ask for Coke Zero. A 'diet' drink causes some confusion.


The McDonalds is in a mall just down the street from the hotel. It's big and bright and colorful on the inside, a Japanese version of Toronto's former super store, Honest Eds. Honest Eds has gone the way of a lot of stores, but this mall will live on. One of the store-within-a-store sellers was this florist. Note the huge Christmas tree at the corner and all the ornaments, decorations, and themed floral arrangements. Christmas is Big in Japan.

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