I went to a little yakitori restaurant in Hirafu for the first time that’s closing for the season, and I met some Russian  guys who had recently come down from Sakhalin island on a chartered flight.  They were working in oiln’gas, and a little bit defensive about my questions about the Russian male life expectancy. I guess it wasn’t a question, I was just saying that in a way, although they were in their early twenty’s, this was mid-life for them…wow, mid-life…?! Some how this made them defensive and one of them, actually only one of them could speak English, so the other one was just nodding at whatever his friend was saying, so the English speaking one said something about how they have the most beautiful women in the world on Sakhalin because the Japanese brought Koreans up there during world war II and then they had kids with Russians. And he said they are tall and they are half Asian and they outnumber the men.  Then they were like, “check, please.”


Sakhalin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I consulted my friend Wikipedia, and there is no mention of tall half Russian half Korean beautiful women roaming the island, but there are a lot of things on there that I didn’t have a clue about.

My coworker/what do you call a person who showers at your dorm, but sleeps in the car with his dog? was driving me home, and I mentioned the guys from Sakhalin, but he had never heard of the word. And then he was like “Karafuto?” He said his Grandma was born there but had to come down to Hokkaido to get away from war up there, and because Japan was weak, Russia took the Island.  He said his Grandma only told him five years ago that she was from there, and they didn’t even don’t know where his Grandfather was born because he went here and there during the war and has never talked about it. About the island his grandma said there was a lot of delicious food there.

Then last night a couple who looked South Asian came in to the restaurant, and when I asked them where they were from they said Russia.  Sakhalin Island. He was in Oiln’gas and said they’d probably do another year up there.  I said I wanted to go, but I heard the ferry only runs in Summer.  The wife or girlfriend sounded kind of American she said, “Trust me, it’s a random place.  There’s nothing up there. You don’t want to go up there.” They must have been on the same chartered flight as the middle aged Russians.

Bronislaw Pilsudski, a Polish prisoner of the ...

Bronislaw Pilsudski, a Polish prisoner of the Russians, took this picture of a wealthy Sakhalin Ainu man around 1905. Identified as a mixed blood Ainu/Russian, the bold designs on his robe, typical of Sakhalin robes, indicate the ready availability of fabrics that the Hokkaido Ainu could never afford. Notice the belt, a clear sign of prosperity. While the Sakhalin Ainu had a separate dialect, they had no problem communicating with Hokkaido Ainu as suggested by the number of intermarriages. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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