Today was our day of rest. For lunch, we walked down to a soba restaurant that Miwako had a part time job at for several years. She had a cold soba dish, and I had udon, which was another item on my list of things to eat on this trip. Miwako hadn't been back to that shop for a few years (in spite of it being about a 5-minute walk from her house), so all of the staff that was around came out to say hi.
On the way home, we picked up a selection of weird flavors of Chu-Hi that I'll never get to drink in The Americraine (by the way, I disagree with many things in that Wikipedia article, but I'm not about to do anything about it), and we watched Hachimitsu to Clover, a movie I've been trying to find forever that features a bunch of actors I like and a million others that I've seen in other good movies.
For dinner, we gathered with Maw and Paw and ate Jingiskan, one of my favorite Hokkaidoian foods. After dinner, Mom and Miwako and I went to an onsen in Asari near where I used to have a part-time job as a bartender a million years ago. Going into an onsen by yourself can be a little boring, especially when the women folk are on the other side (because they take longer, what with having to dry their hair and reapply their makeup afterwards, of course). There were 3 or 4 baths of varying temperatures inside, plus a smaller cold water bath (my favorite), a couple of therapeutic baths (one has you sitting on a bench with two super powerful jets of water dropping from the ceiling onto your shoulders, the other has you sitting in a bath in a cubbyhole-like section with underwater jets spraying at you from all directions), and two kinds of saunas (or maybe one was a steam room... they seemed very similar). But the main draw, and indeed one of the main reasons I've wanted to go to Hokkaido in winter forever was the Rotenburo. It was everything I had hoped for. It was really cold outside, and it started snowing big awesome flakes. The snow around the bath was carved into some character, and there were snow candles like in Otaru. There was even a nice (well, dark) view of the mountain behind the place. After a little while, the wind picked up, so there was a nice cold-ass breeze that felt awesome when immediately followed by a dip in the water. My hair even froze a little bit. Fantastic. I love Hokkaido.
An interesting side note, I didn't realize it until trying to find a link to information on what a rotenburo is, but we went to the very same onsen that gained media attention (sort of) for being discriminatory against honkey crackers like myself. The weirdo who sued the place even has his own Wikipedia article. I guess in the back of my mind, I knew about that case, and that it was somewhere around where we were going, but since they let me in I guess I didn't really think about it all that much.
Back home, Miwako's Mom of course wanted to drink with us some more. She had seen some of the various drawrings and painterings and such that I had given to Miwako in the past, and wanted to show off the art that she used to do. It was good, but she drew people and fashions to be used for newspaper advertisements, whereas most of my stuff is abstract. Then she challenged me to a drawing competition, where we each had one half of a big sheet of paper and went nuts. It was fun because her best attempts at being abstract kept failing because it's not something she does. I, on the other hand, like to let my mind go blank and just see what happens. Meanwhile, Miwako was trying not to fall asleep from the combination of bathing and beer. Eventually Mom went to sleep, though, so we could actually spend time talking to each other.