Thursday 20th – Saturday 22nd – Hakodate
Travelled up from Sendai to Hakodate on the northern island of Hokkaido by shinkansen and local express. Great suspense waiting for James’ GCSE results to come through on email – finally got them just before we arrived in Hakodate, all good.
Hakodate was the third port to be opened up to foreign trade after the self imposed isolation of Japan ended in 1854. Our hotel was a Japanese onsen (spa) resort by the sea. We were the only Westerners there… Nice Japanese style room, tatami matting floor, with staff coming in during dinner time to move the table and lay out futons and duvets. When I opened up the window to get a good view of the area, we had a visitor arrive looking for food…
Hotel restaurant simple but good, edamame and gyoza for dinner each night we were there (plus snacks from the ubiquitous 7/11).
Friday: day out in Hakodate. We visited Goryōkaku – the first European style fort in Japan – 5 pointed star shaped. Went up viewing tower for photos, then walked the fort walls. Visited the former British Consulate for afternoon tea, then took the ropeway up Mt Hakodate to wait for sunset and night views of Hakodate – spectacular.
Saturday: we took the train north to visit Onuma quasi national park. I wanted to climb Mt Komagatake (dormant volcano), sadly the weather was not good enough.
Spent a few hours walking around the islands in the lake, then pedal boating, and a swift visit to the local microbrewery (what good fortune…). Also stopped at the Friendly Bear restaurant for coffee and a selfie with 3 weird bears…
Got the tram back to the hotel and realised that the main street along by the seafront was getting very busy – lots of food stalls, trinkets, and locals arriving in traditional dress (yukata). Turns out it was the Yunakawa Onsen Hanabi – fireworks display. Great evening out, wonderful finish to our time in the north.