A Touristy Weekend in Hakodate

This weekend I visited Hakodate.  One of the other EAPSI fellows named Charlotte is working there and was able to show me around.  Even with it raining on and off for most of the weekend I still had a great time.

Saturday morning I biked from my place to the Higashi-Muroran train station and took a train to Hakodate.  The ride was around 2.5 hours and cost about $65 USD.  On the train ride I read a collection of Stephen King short stories that had been recommended to me.  Specifically, the story titled ‘N’, which is not just good fiction, but good fan fiction.  I don’t read enough Stephen King to know if he does it a lot, but clearly he wanted to write some Lovecraft.  Anyway, he’s more than welcome to, cause Lovecraft probably couldn’t have done it much better.  The story should be called “I can’t believe it’s not Lovecraft!”. It’s got all the great Cthulhu taste you love, but without the added racism.

Anyway, I arrived and walked about a mile to get to the hostel I was staying at.  I wanted dirt cheap, and I got it.  After that I met Charlotte at the Hakodate Morning Market, which in addition to having great food also qualifies as a visit to the aquarium.

We also checked out Goryokaku, a star shaped fort surrounded by a moat, which is now a park.  In addition to the fact that a ‘star fort’ sounds like something from Mario, it turns out that it kinda looks like a level from Mario too.  The place is absolutely beautiful.  Plus it’s yet another example of how good people are at making big symmetrical things without aerial photography or GPS.

After that we checked out some onsen.  An onsen is a traditional Japanese bathhouse.  I’d gone to an onsen in the town of noburibetsu near Muroran and loved it, but I wasn’t sure if I liked all onsen.  After all, Noburibetsu has some of the best onsen in Hokkaido.  Plus its possible I was just enjoying the novelty of it.  After trying a couple more onsen I can say that they’re really relaxing and I would totally be down to try to find some kind of cheap spa or bathhouse back in socal.

After that we got dinner at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, then I headed back to the hostel.  Then next morning I went for a run, and seeing that Mount Hakodate wasn’t far I decided to go there.  While Mount Hakodate is the peak shown in that drawing at the top of this post, its not actually that tall.  The trail was foggy but beautiful.

Later I met Charlotte at the mall, where I bought a yukatta to wear to the festival Hakodate was holding that evening.  We hung around the mall for a couple hours cause it was rainy out and there wasn’t much to do, then we got food and headed to another onsen.  As long as I’m going to be sitting around doing nothing, I may as well being doing it in a fancy hot tub.  I also got some awesome raman at the onsen.

After that we headed to the festival, checked out some fireworks, and called it a night.  Then next morning I went for a run to see the historic area near the port despite the fact it was raining.  There was a really nice park on an artificial island in the port, some old buildings, and a tiny but charming literature museum, which evidently celebrates Hakodate’s literary greats.

Anyway, that was a good weekend, and Hakodate really blew me away.  My next excursion  outside of Muroran will probably be to Sapporo in a couple weeks.  Looking forward to that.

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