Monthly Archives: April 2013

kelseydo Hakodate

After a quiet few days at Showa Shinzan, Nick and I took the train to the southern tip of Hokkaido to stay at our penultimate stop before entering the Tohoku region of Honshu.

Map of Hokkaido

Hokkaido

Hakodate was one of the first cities to be opened to international trade after Japan’s period of isolation. We made a point to visit Fort Goryokaku, Japan’s first western style fortress, and Motomachi, the former residential area of foreign traders.

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Enjoying our first seafood nabe at Hakodate Beer

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The view of Fort Goryokaku, shaped like a star, from a lookout tower

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A traditional Japanese building in the midst of Fort Goryokaku

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Goryokaku tower

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Trying out Hakodate’s famous burger chain, Lucky Pierrot

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The Hakodate Yama (Mountain) Burger: Hamburger, Chicken Karrage & Tonkatsu

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A church in the Motomachi district

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Nick & I enjoying the sun and snow in the Motomachi district

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kelseydo Showa Shinzan

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Showa Shinzan is a new mountain that was created sometime between 1944 and 1945 when a series of earthquakes prompted lava to erupt through the surface of some overturned wheat fields. When it first erupted, the Japanese authorities didn’t want it to seem like a bad omen during war time so they kept it pretty hush-hush. Now it’s a pretty interesting sight to behold, very red in colour and still smoking and steaming from its peak.

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Lake Toya

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Nick & Showa Shinzan, still steaming!

Riding the gondola

Riding the Gondola up to Mt.Usu

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The gondola with Showa Shinzan in the background

 

Nick and I stayed in the small town of Toya at the Showa Shinzan Youth Hostel. There was no one around, the hostel was completely empty except for us. The hostel seemed very haunted. At night we could hear someone watching TV in the room across from us and we could hear them opening and closing doors but during the morning and the day it was obvious there was no one else there. CREEPY!

Studying in the empty hostel

Studying & watching Japanese TV in the empty hostel

Nick had to walk over 5km on the side of the road with trucks roaring past in a blizzard to get us sustenance (ramen noodles & beer) from the local convenience store. Luckily we found a restaurant the second day that served the best katsu curry either of us had ever eaten. It could’ve been that all we had to compare was undercooked cup of noodle for the two days, but it was still delicious.

A poster for the International Snowball Fight Tournament happening the week after we arrived...bad timing!

A poster for the International Snowball Fight Tournament happening the week after we arrived…bad timing!

I highly recommend visiting Showa Shinzan and the Lake Toya area during the spring/summer months. Like many places we visited in Japan that were covered in snow, there was not a lot going on in town and a lot of the amenities for travellers were virtually closed down. On the other hand it was nice to beat the crowds and to enjoy something all to ourselves!