Wednesday, August 10, 2016
High on Hokkaido VIII: The Star of Hakodate
Early in the morning, we got dressed to pay a visit to the Fish Wholesale Market. It was not a fun day to be out. Wet and windy. Much more windy than wet really. When the angle was right, we felt 'helped along'. At pedestrian crossings, we held on to the lamp posts to avoid being blown onto the road. Crazy. Along the way, we saw tsunami warning signboards marking all tall buildings that have been designated at tsunami shelters. Hotel Chocolat was one of them.
The Fish Wholesale Market is something like Kuromon Market in Osaka, but bigger and less centralized. From one glance, one can tell the King Crab is king in Hakodate. Nearly every shop sells it. Other specialties are live squid (fish your own) and scallops. Filled our high cholesterol breakfast quota with grilled giant scallop, boiled hairy crab and grilled King crab legs. My favourite was the boiled hairy crab. They boil the whole thing in salt water and serve it to you whole with a pair of kitchen shears. The store helper showed us how to get to the meat and then wished us "gambatte" to finish the rest. By noon, many shops had started closing so we returned to the hotel to drop our stuff.
For the rest of the day, we would be traveling by streetcar, so we bought daily passes from the front desk. Got on at Uoichibadori station and alighted at Goryokakukoen-Koen-Mae station. Ate noodles at a corner noodle shop near the streetcar station. From there, it was a short walk to Goryokakku Tower and Goryokakku Park. Goryokakku Park is actually an old fort that was transformed into a park. In the middle of the park is a reconstruction of the old bugyosho or magistrate's office. What makes Goryokakku special is the star shape that it's built in. From the ground, it's quite impossible to visualize it, hence the existence of Goryokakku Tower. In the hanami season, Goryokakku Park is very popular because it has 1000 cherry trees! But all we saw was green trees, some Azaleas and wisteria. Sat in the middle of the park, ate some Yubari melon jelly and left.
Near the streetcar station, we popped into Maru Imai, a department store to do some ad hoc shopping. More money was spent, so we dropped off our hoard at the hotel again. One more park to go before the we called it a day. Traveled to Aoyagi-Cho station on the other line to visit Hakodate Park, one of Japan's first Western style parks. Seemed to be a favourite place for locals to bring their dogs for a walk. The landscaping is beautiful with plenty of cypress trees and Azaleas. Perfect place for us to paktor.
It was getting dark, so we went back to the Aogiyama streetcar station where KH said the cheesiest thing to me:
Moi: What do you want for dinner?
Moi: You always don't know what you want.
KH: I know I want you ah.
That totally caught me off guard. Not his nature to say such things. He deserved an immediate kiss from me. Traveled a few stations down to to have dinner. Lots of izakaya places there. Really cramped restaurants where customers sit at a bar counter surrounding the chef to eat, smoke and most importantly drink. Most could only serve eight at one go. The whole experience seemed too intimately local for us, so we ate at a bigger joint that server grilled food.
The bar was full, so we were given a table upstairs. The young Japanese waitress couldn't speak much English at all but we understood that there was a requirement to order drinks and pay for some beer snacks. Our order consisted of grilled squid, grilled dory, grilled smelts and grilled salted squid guts. The last item was really an acquired taste! We toasted to the end of our trip with sakura-infused liqour and shochu.
Rental of our car was to end on Thursday night. It was time that we took inventory of what we bought and try to stuff it all into our luggage. Bit by bit was transferred all the stuff on the backseat to the room. Luckily we could get by with one extra duffel bag.