Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day 12 - Hakodate

11th February, 2003 - Returning to the port area, we had lunch in the "red brick warehouse" where there are some nice restaurants and cafes. There a few nice shops to spend your time in - but nothing too exciting. There's a really nice beer hall in here - and that should keep the cold at bay for an hour or two at least.

After lunch we headed across town to the Foreigners Graveyard... hmmm we seem to be spending a large amount of our time running around cemetaries! Actually - it's not high on the list of places to see in Hakodate, but it's a stark reminder of how isolated this town must have been way back then.

The graveyard itself is fairly small, and only really approached on foot. The scenery isn't that remarkable as it is desolate. The author of the words on this memorial may be un-attributed, but the feeling remains powerful today. (The poem is from Epitaph for Wolfe Tomb, and is authored only by "a shipmate"... The memorial remembers one of the crewman from one of Perry's ships in 1854). Now their spirits gaze forever westward; a long way from home.

Leaving the sad and last lookout over the seas off Hakodate, we then walked to Koryuu-ji...being built in 1633, it is the oldest temple in Hakodate - however, in that time it's moved to three different locations, the final one since Meiji times.

On the way to and from Koryuu-ji, it's worthwhile just walking around as you will find many interesting examples of "cross-cultural architecture"... and in some cases, you can't even tell where one architecture finishes, and the other begins.

 One of the things that is common in the architecture here are the window covers... they look like something that should be on an Egyptian tomb, rather than a window awning - but of course, here they need something to keep out the cold, COLD winds. Overall - the town towards the Onsen left a lot to be desired, but once you hit the older areas, you see a charm that is often missing from Japanese cities these days.

And on that note we made our way back to the hotel, and said good bye to Hakodate. It was two days of extreme cold, lots of walking and lots of different views of Japan - some dating back to the time that Perry shattered the wary peace of feudal Japan. After grabbing a take-away dinner we jumped aboard the train back to Sapporo (left around 5pm) and prepared ourselves for the 4 hour journey back home. What a trip!

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