Monday, March 3, 2008


Went to Hakodate this past weekend with everyone from my office.

Every month we pay about $20 out of our paycheck to contribute to the end of the year party and the new year trip. This year I guess there were some scheduling conflicts so the new year trip didn't happen till March. It was worth the wait though!

We took the train north to Hokkaido through the longest underground tunnel in the world. The 33 mile long Seikan Tunnel connects Hokkaido to Honshu and contains the first two undersea train stations. I guess the Honshu side station was demolished a few years ago in preparation for the new bullet train line that will connect Hokkaido to the rest of Japan's high speed train network.

After arriving in Hakodate the first order of business was ramen! These guys are my kind of travel mates.

We then spent a few hours trekking around Hakodate's port town. Being the first port to open to western trade routes there are many western style warehouses and historical hot spots. It is essentially a tourist trap now with tons of little shops selling everything from bongs (I'm not joking!) to giant stuffed Elmos.

Bloodthirsty Elmo of Death!

After the souvenir shops we headed down to the Kitajima Saburo Museum. Sabu-chan is one of the most renowned enka (kind of a folk opera?) singers in Japan and was born in Hakodate.

Sea-chan and Sabu-chan Duet!

Oh, better include some pictures of other people or somebody might mistake me for being a narcissist.

David and I hangin' with our main man Saburo.

We also toured the religious district where you can find churches of almost every religion. In our short walk we passed a Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and a Buddhist Temple all within the same block. We took the tram, yep a tram, to our Japanese style hotel. Complete with tatami mat rooms, outside bath, and rigid eating schedule.

The following day we spent a few hours shopping for souvenirs. I spent way to much but came home with chocolate covered potato chips, happy (gengki) sausages, and some chocolate liquor.

We took the ferry back home instead of the train. Amazingly it is just as fast and I think a little cheaper. The new high speed ferry is very comfortable complete with a snack shop and lounge couches.

That's it for now. I will update again in a few days with some pictures of the Hina Matsuri. An annual Dolls Festival with what seems to be a very deep traditional background.

Hakodate 08

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