I arrived back in Sapporo just before Typhoon Lionrock smacked into Hokkaido.
The movers had arrived in Tokyo the day before with all my worldly goods. For some strange reason, everything had been removed from the original truck that had shown up in Sapporo and repackaged into a vehicle resembling a covered settlers wagon. I was pleased to see the movers and even more pleased to see them all leave at the end of the afternoon. Then I ordered a pizza and confused the delivery guy by failing to use the intercom. Sorry buddy, new apartment and all...
As I bit into my multi-topping deep-pan delight, I looked around my apartment. A trip to Ikea was needed and possibly 117 additional air conditioners. I also needed my cat.
The plan was to return to Sapporo Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, there was to be the final inspection of my Sapporo apartment and I'd hand over the keys. Then the cat and I would take the train back to Tokyo on Thursday morning.
(Notably, this blog post is written several days later. The typhoon I mentioned earlier? Yeah. That's going to be important.)
In a continuation of the capsule hotel obsession, I'd booked a bed in 'Social Hostel 365'. It is situated in Susukino --the bar and restaurant area of Sapporo-- but a sufficient number of blocks away from the main drag to be relatively quiet. The hostel has a bar downstairs and two dormitories and a private room upstairs, all decked out in handcrafted wood. It had previously been a Tonkatsu (deep friend pork) restaurant and had been converted by the two owners into a hostel. I was told later this required some serious stripping of the interior to remove all the built up cooking grease.
I entered the hostel to find one of the owners managing the reception desk, while chatting to his fiancée, Peta ...
... who happened to be British, roughly my age and had been living spitting distance from my Sapporo apartment for the last two years. (A discovery made when I passed over my residence card.) There are times when I think I should really look up from my phone more when I leave the house.
One of the reasons I had selected this hostel was its interesting looking beds. Similar to 'Untapped', these were cabin-like spaces where each one was slightly different. I even got to choose my own bunk out of the ones free that night. Very unusually, the beds were all double mattresses; a luxury I did not even have in my own apartment.
Talking to Peta over a free welcome drink in the bar later that night (and attempting to make up for the two years of friendship we clearly should have had), I discovered the idea behind Social 365 was to provide a space that had both the privacy of a capsule hotel, but the social interaction areas of a hostel. I also discovered the hostel now had a twin: a second space in Sapporo called 'Igloo'. It was information that would prove extremely useful in a few days.
Social 365 has one of the most informative websites of the accommodation places I visited, including a list of recommended local restaurants. I braved the approaching storm to try out an 'Ebisoba' restaurant: noodles with shrimp and (because it seems to be always in noodle bowls with no warning) pork. According to the hostel website, this was a famous place which I'd completely missed during the last five years. I was beginning to question whether I'd actually ever lived in Sapporo at all.
Unlike the Samurai hostel, Social 365 has mercifully multiple toilets per floor. It does however, have only one shower per dormitory. This led to a rather long wait, although I will admit the guy that finally emerged from the stall had perfectly spiked hair.
As I settled in to my cabin bunk, the storm hit the city. The building rocked and groaned as heavy rain ran down the streets.