Japan day 26
Japan day 26
Hakodate 24 km
The 4 hour crossing to Hokkaido was mostly spent lying down on the tatami-matted resting area you find on all Japanese ferries. But where did this man finally lay his weary head for the night?
When I checked out the modern ferry terminal in Hakodate, discovered it had three floors, all furnished with inviting couches that would take a 6 foot ‘gaijin’ like myself, it was a ‘no-brainer’, my search took me no further. And because they ran ferries through the night, this building would stay open…..however, I had to contend with automated announcements until midnight, when they realised this strange man lying on a couch was trying to sleep, and they graciously turned them off.
I’d like to say I rose with the larks, grabbed a quick breakfast and headed off to explore the historic city of Hakodate….but the reality was radically different. This was Hokkaido…..mention Hokkaido to any Japanese and their immediate reaction is the feign a shiver, and go “Brrrr” (or the Japanese equivalent) while screwing up their faces in mock horror. It has a reputation for being very cold, and this morning, extremely wet….. I was happy to do nothing for several hours, lounging about this ultra modern building that was designed like the front end of a ship (you know, the pointed end?). It was going to be a non-cycling day anyway, just whizzing around the city to see a few key sights.
By lunchtime, however, the weather had cleared, and I got a phonecall from Hiroaki, my Warmshowers host for the night. He zoomed out to the ferry terminal on his motorbike to meet me, guided me to his little flat, where I unloaded the bike, made an arrangement to meet back there in the evening, and I then headed off to town on a now unladen bike (which suddenly seemed light and flighty!).
First stop, the Foreigners’ Cemetery…….
second stop, the historic point of entry where the world came into Japan to end it’s 200 years of self-imposed isolation in the mid-19th century (and hence the Foreigners’ Cemetery).
And then I began to realise that another legacy of that history was the number of Christian churches about the city, the majority seemingly Greek and Russian Orthodox.
Third stop…..yes, you’ve guessed it….an onsen….in this case one mysteriously called Spa & Casa….
Why the Spanish name ‘Casa’ remains a mystery to me, but it may be connected to some old Spanish influence, because I noticed in an information leaflet that in the spring and autumn they have two important ‘tapas’ festivals, where restaurants serve a range of ‘pinchos’ and drinks, and it is so popular, you have to book your tickets in advance.
Mmn….interesting I should have picked up a bottle of Spanish wine to accompany the delicious European meal that Hiroaki was to serve that evening.
But more of that in another post….. (you will be intrigued…..I promise!).