Had to visit Hakodate - the city in Hakkaido that I lived in for 3 years when I first got married. I wanted to visit the place and get in touch with my ex colleagues but how? Had not been in contact with them since my last visit there when Liana was like 3 years old. Out of desperation, called the restaurant that I worked in and looked for 1 of them and lo and behold, after 30+ years, he is still working there!!!!! He had already retired but still goes back to work! I am elated. He has agreed to round up the people that I used to work with when I went. Happiness!
Left London on Monday 1 October at 1300 UK time (2100 Japan) and arrived at Tokyo Narita Airport on Tuesday, 2 October at 0900. Then took a limousine bus to Haneda airport for our flight to Hakodate. Arrived in Hakodate at around 1530 and then another half hour bus to train station where our hotel was. We stayed at Hakodate Kokusai Hotel for the 3 nights that we planned to be there.
Then at around 1900 we left the hotel to go to the restaurant for dinner. This is a family run restaurant/wedding venue that has been around for about 130 years. They are famous for their curries and even sell their curry pouches! Remember that I have not been there for about 23 years. I thought I knew the way, so we walked there. We walked around in circles but finally got there after around half and hour and after asking for directions about 3 times. Got there and my goodness, they were expecting us. I only thought they were expecting us the next day but good thing we went cos the present MD gave me a bouquet of roses. Ah, I was so touched! And we were treated to dinner as well. Sorry, no pictures of our curry dinner as I was a bit tired as we have been awake for 20+ hours. Yagi san (my friend) pointed us in the direction of our hotel and it only took us 10 mins to walk back. It was just 1 straight road and silly me, well.... hehe
When we arrived, we were a bit worried because when we were leaving UK, I read that airports in Hokkaido were closed because of typhoons but none of that when we arrived... it was nice and sunny! Only the next day was raining but we still went for a walk after breakfast. We went to the Asa Ichi or Morning market and went back to the hotel for a rest. Headed out the the Morning market again as there were restaurants there, so settled on lunch there.
That night, met up with a few of my close friends for dinner and I especially asked for an Izakaya and not a restaurant as I wanted Pat to have a feel of an Izakaya or Japanese pub. It was good, food was good, company was good and we talked and joked as if we had not parted. We had sashimi, grilled fish, battered squid, karaage and best of all, there was a show put on by the Izakaya's boss when you order Ikura don. He heaps and heaps loads of ikura onto your bowl of rice and my only regret is that I did not video it! Yagi san was so sweet to take us up to Mount Hakodate to take a picture of the night view. Could not stay long as it was so cold and windy up there!
Spent our last day in Hakodate with Yagi san taking us round a few of the scenic places. Friday morning, went to collect our rental car and drove to Toya ko which is a lake which was formed by earthquake and the movements of the mountains. Stayed there a night at Pension Ohno - dinner and breakfast included and dinner was great! Caught some fireworks - they have fireworks at Lake Toya from April to October! Just wanted to say that the Sat Nav system in Japan is great as it allows for you to input a telephone number instead of an address and it's bilingual as well! haha
Next morning drove onwards to Sapporo. Stayed at Royton Hotel which was reserved for us by an ex-colleague from JTB. Thought of going to the Sapporo Shiroi Koibito factory but as it was quite far out, gave it a miss. Instead, we walked to the Botanical gardens which was a close walk to our hotel. Half way there, wondering to go or not as the skies looked dark, but we still walked on and whilst we were admiring the roses, the heavens opened and we had to take cover under the trees!
In the evening, had to take Pat to try Genghis Khan which is a mongolian bbq but using lamb. The place that we were going to originally was recommended by a waitress in the hotel coffee shop but she did not tell us to make a reservation and on hindsight (it was a Sat nite) should have, but we were not going to wait half an hour for a table, so went walking round Susukino which is the night life area of Sapporo. Just 3 mins walk away, we saw another Genghis Khan restaurant and walked in and took the last table! Yums..
Sunday morning returned the car and waited for our flight to Haneda.
Tokyo and the rest will be in the next posting!