Hillary and Aron's Honeymoon in Nippon 2006 travel blog


Sakura...(can`t remember the words to the song)

Hakodate is big with tourists

The beginning of a big meal

Sabisu! Sabisu!

Oiishikatta yo

Hakodate is one of the main entry points into Hokkaido. One can reach this lovely tourist trap through the Sendai Tunnel, the longest underwater tunnel in the world. Hakodate is renowned for being both a port town and a landscape of Western-style buildings. Perhaps most notably, the view from Mt. Hakodate of the surrounding city at night is supposedly one of the Best Night Views in Japan. Whatever that means.

After a very strange evening in the Nice Day Inn (we got our money`s worth through endless solicitations of local information and by stealing our room key for a few hours), we wandered into the Goryokaku fort for some hana-mi. Quite literally this means staring at flowers, but in Japan it is the renowned art of leisurely eating and drinking whilst sitting on blue plastic tarps underneath flowering cherry blossoms (sakura). Our fort park had its fair share of sakura and hanami going on and we ended up spending hours watching the people and trying to decide which kid we would steal (assuming we wanted to `adopt` a 3 year old Japanese kid from his family and drag him home to the US purely for our own asthetic reasons). Aron learned this clever game from Janice and it provided hours of amusement.

Later in the day we did laundry and booked rail tickets and debated going to Onuma or staying another night. In the end, we decided to stay another night and found ourselves at Hotel Wing. The owner was as surprised to see us as he was shocked that we wanted the tatami room (traditional Japanese room with the beds on the floor). Part of why we wanted to stay in Hakodate was the damn night view we`d heard so much about. We wandered slowly up the hill at sundown debating why we should pay $30 to see a skyline. Ultimately, Aron decided we should just pay the $30 to eat like pigs in a restaurant that faced the skyline. He is so smart.

We feasted like kings on the *set menu* for May. Who knows what everything was called, but by the end we had something like 20 little dishes each. The manager was delighted with my subpar language skills and gave us a `sabisu`- a service, or gift. This was, um, the grossest thing I have seen in awhile. Literally, he set down a pretty bowl with 2 giant living shrimp squirming around (Lisa, stop reading!!!). I asked him what we were supposed to do with it, and he kindly demonstrated by beheading the shrimp and pulling out the body, which he set on Aron`s plate and Aron promptly ate. I was sort of overwhelmed but, having studied carefully, aware of the fact that one does not ever shun gifts (even when they are 10 years old, forced on a trip in the in-land sea and faced with plate after plate of octopus sashimi. But, that is a conversation for my therapist). So, I ate mine too. And, frankly, it was really good. The aftertaste was a little bad watching my shrimp head die for about 10 minutes after it was murdered. I swore of shrimp until the tempura portion of our meal arrived.

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