Monday, August 2, 2010

Goodbye Hakodate

Hakodate played a very important role in the history of Japan. After the U.S. “persuaded” the Shogunate to open up Japan by sending its Pacific fleet to Hakodate harbour, the Japanese government built a star shaped citadel and made Hakodate a major administrative capital.

During the Imperial restoration, the remnants of the Shogun’s army fled to Hakodate and took over the citadel, named Goryokaku. In the spring of the following year the Imperial army landed on Hokkaido and destroyed the remaining Shogunate forces, but only after being routed in the first skirmish.

The fort was turned into a park in the early part of the 20th century and it’s very expansive. There is a large tower beside the park and you can look down on it and see that it is indeed start shaped. In the centre, a new replica of the original administrative building has just been completed and it was opened on July 29th. The smell of pine and cedar was very nice. I was very impressed with the tongue and groove construction. Aside from the Japanese-height doorways, I thought it was a very liveable.

After visiting the fort, we did a quick tour of a fisheries museum. It was interesting to see the historical can labels, stuffed fish, and old netting. What was bizarre was the juxtaposition of the 1950s era black and white movie showing whalers harpoon whales with the campy 1950s, upbeat jazz flute music. Clearly, it was a celebration of whaling and the whalers, but in the modern context it felt out of place.
We had lunch at a sushi restaurant where we had our fill of nigiri. It was delicious. We spent some time wandering the town, and left on the train back to Sapporo. It was an enjoyable trip, albeit a very full agenda.

When we got back to Sapporo we all went out for Chinese food. I spent dinner with Jabin, the Indian Sino relations expert and the three participants from China. I picked up a couple of new Mandarin words and had a great time getting to know them better.

Tower in Hakodate
Model of the fort
Looking out the window
Miniatureland- Hakodate?
Hokkaido is known for its dairy products. The ice cream and milkshakes do not disappoint
Exteremely expensive cantelopes
Extremely expensive watermelons

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