August 25, 2007

We decided to relax this day on our trip, as our journey in Northern Japan was coming to a close soon. We woke up and put our bags by the front desk and just went for a walk around Hakodate. We had breakfast, ate some ice cream but didn’t do anything too exiting. Around noon we headed to the station to go back to Tohoku, and got on our train to Aomori.

We arrived at Aomori around 5pm and went to the tourist information center to see if they could reserve us a place to stay at Kakunodate, however they told us that something was going on in Kakunodate that night and all the hotels and ryokans were booked so we decided to go back to Morioka for another night at the Kumagai Ryokan.

Taking the shinkansen back to Morioka we arrived at Kumagai Ryokan without a problem, and since we didn’t try reimen the last time we were there, we ventured out to find a restaurant that served it. As I described before, reimen is cold noodles with kimchi, and to be honest it did not fit my fancy. I guess I just prefer hot noodles, I’m not exactly sure. I do recommend that you try reimen if you get the chance just to have the experience but don’t get your hopes up too high, and who knows it might fit your tastes!!

We spent the rest of the night, before heading to bed, walking around Morioka at night to places we had not already visited. We found a Mister Donut and had some coffee and donuts there, then enjoyed the sights of Morioka at night. As I said this was our rest day, unfortunately things did not go as planned, we were hoping to explore Kakunodate and stay there for the night, but at least we were not sleeping at a train station or some other place not as comfortable as Kumagai Ryokan.

Next time I will talk about the last full day of our trip, going to Kakunodate and finally to Tsukuba in Ibaraki-ken. Until then!!


Continuing from where I left off, we ventured to Mitsuishi Temple (Three Rocks Temple) the site of the devil’s (or demon’s) hand prints.  Another English information sign for you:

Mitsuishi (Three Rocks) and the Demon’s Hand Prints

According to legend, long ago, in this district, there lived a demon called Pasetsu which was always causing trouble. The inhabitants prayed to the god of Mitsuishi and then the god bound the demon to the three rocks. The demon swore he would torment the people no more and that he would never com to this district again. The god made the demon put a handprint on one of the three rocks as the sign of his promise and then let the demon go.
It is said that the handprint on the three rocks (Mitsuishi) are the origin of the name of Iwate Prefecture (which literally means “rock-hand”).

At the temple are three very large rocks (go figure) and the handprints are very interesting.

From Mitsuishi we walked back to Kumagai Ryokan and proceeded to the train station to start our trek to Hakodate. We rode the shinkansen to Aomori then we had to switch to a train to go through the Seikan Tunnel, which actually travels underwater beneath the Tsugaru Strait from Northern Honshu to the Hokkaido region. The trip took at least three to four hours total and we had to buy the ticket for the train that travelled from Aomori to Hakodate because the JR East pass does not cover that area.


By the time we reached Hakodate it was getting dark, so we went to the next and most expensive ryokan, Ichinomatsu Ryokan, and dropped off our bags. In Hakodate the easiest way to get around is by trolley (streetcar, or tram), so at the station we bought two 1day tickets because we figured it would cost us less in the end as we would be riding more than three times. The cost to ride the trolley a single time was around 200 yen and the cost of the all day ticket cost 600 yen.

After we dropped off our luggage we headed to Mt. Hakodate and took the ropeway to the observatory which offered a 360 degree view of the city. A round trip ticket on the ropeway cost 1160 yen but the view was worth it. After coming back down the mountain we went on the walking tour in a pamphlet we obtained at the tourist information center. What is really nice about Hakodate is that first; it is much cooler temperature-wise than any of the previous cities we had visited, and second; at night I expect it is a seasonal thing) they light significant sites of the city for the tourists to take pictures of them at night from 8pm to 10pm I believe. Walking around the city was very refreshing and the sites were beautiful, the pictures will be on the flickr shortly.

We hopped back on the trolley to go back to the ryokan and went to sleep. In the next post I will detail what we did on our day in Hakodate then going back to Northern Honshu for our final leg of our Tohoku trip, visiting Kakunodate, the city of samurai residences, until then!