Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan Mar.15 – 17, 2024

There were no snow in downtown. It got around 0 C degree in the morning. It is still winter. However, the sunshine is different from the winter’s one. I can feel spring is not far. It was early June when I visited last year. I remember windy and chilly weather welcomed me at that time. Like last time, weather is not good. It is raining occasionally. I’ve begun to love this town since the last visit. It is a port town. There are old western style buildings and Christian churches which remind us of this city’s history and its connections with foreign countries. I like the exotic atmosphere of this town. It has a tram going through downtown like we used to have in my town Yokohama. (Trams used to crisscross the town of Honmoku until the 1970’s.) There are markets like Jiyu-ichiba market where small businesses are gathered under one roof. Those make me remember my childhood in Yokohama back in the 1960’s.

On my second day, I left the hotel as soon as I finished breakfast and headed to Hakodate Yama or Mt.Hakodate. I walked through Hakodate Morning fish Market streets, the area many fish mongers and seafood restaurants are gathered near Hakodate station. It is one of the popular tourist attractions in town. Tourists come to the area to have breakfast and shop. A guy standing in front of his shop talked to me with smile and asked what I have in mind for souvenir when I was passing by. Actually I wanted to buy something. But I had nothing in mind. He kept talking friendly. I stopped and started to ask what was in season and what is popular for visitors to buy, etc. He answered to my questions friendly. I bought three hairy crabs, a half of a fresh sermon etc. I asked him to send them to my home by delivery service. It was 15,000 yen including delivery. I was not sure it was a good buy at the time. I heard from him that the shops in the market close by noon. So I thought it was good occasion for me to buy now as they would close by the time I returned from the mountain.

From the entrance of the trail near the ropeway station, I started to walk toward the top of the mountain around 9 o’clock . The trail was covered with snow. During my climbing of about an hour or so, I passed with a couple of hikers who were going down. They may have started early before the ropeway started. I could see the Tsugaru Strait from the trail. I realized the trail is lined with cypress trees. I learned later that the mountain was almost bald about 200 years ago after people had cut down the trees completely to use them for heating or fuel. They stopped logging and planted seedlings of ciders until it recovered. The mountain has a wide variety of flora and fauna. British scientist Thomas Wright Blakiston found the fauna boundary across the Tsugaru straight between Hokkaido and Honshu. Later this line came to be known as the Blakiston Line. He came to Japan in the 1860’s and spent time in Hakodate. His monument is stood on the top of the mountain near the ropeway station.