We started our trip on August 2nd by taking a plane from Helsinki to Tokyo Narita. In Tokyo, we had to go from one airport to another by train. During the train trip, we passed some of Tokyo’s biggest stations and saw some beautiful scenery.
From Haneda airport in Tokyo we took a plane to Sapporo and from there we boarded a train bound to Wakkanai, a city in Northern Hokkaido. We arrived in Wakkanai in the evening and managed to find our lovely guesthouse. Then it was time for some well earned sleep! The next morning we had a superb traditional Japanese breakfast in our guesthouse. Then we left for the ferry, Eins Soya (Heartland Ferry), that took us to Korsakov. For me and my research partner the ferry trip was especially interesting, since during it we interviewed our first informant! After arriving to Korsakov and getting through the customs office, we took a bus to Juzno-Sakhalinsk. There we were hosted by Sakhalin Regional Museum, which is one of the oldest scientific institutions in Sakhalin.
On August 5th we were welcomed to the museum by museum director Mrs. Tatyana Roon. After the welcoming speech we got to enjoy a tour in the museum. We saw for example rare artifacts from different cultures, such as Nivkhs, Uiltas and Ainus. Gradually we were guided through the history of the island, all the way from ancient cultures to the times of penal servitude, second world war and postwar period. We also saw some items outside the museum, such as old cannons and a Japanese tank. We also visited an interesting museum dedicated to Anton Chekov and his famous book about Sakhalin.
On August 6th my research partner and I met with our second informant, Mr. Shirahata. He has lived in Sakhalin his whole life, but speaks Japanese and was able to provide us with some very important and interesting data in sociolinguistic level. In the evening we took a bus to a large liquid gas plant. We weren’t able to see much of actual plant, but we took a short and exciting walk on the seashore.
On August 7th, we took part in a seminar organized in the museum. There we met with some Japanese researchers and heard interesting presentations. On that day we had a chance to buy some souvenirs and we also visited an art museum that had an impressive collection of both traditional-like art and more modern pieces.
All in all, Juzno-Sakhalinsk was bigger and more modern that I had expected. I was also happy to see diverse cultural life there in a form of multiple museums.
Photos: Andrew Logie