We left Sapporo after the requisite two nights stay – the hotel were packaged with the air tickets – and drove south to Hakodate, stopping en-route at Lake Onuma, one of the many lakes that we visited while at Hokkaido.
Lake Onuma is easily accessible along the Highway 5 and proved to be a well-worth stop. The lake provides sanctuary for migratory birds and although we were the only visitors there, we were delighted to witness a man feeding eagles by throwing the food up into the sky, and the eagles swooping down to grab the food with their beaks. The eagles had to compete with crows as large as themselves.Along the way, we spotted road signs warning about foxes and saw one by the side of the road. We weren’t sure at first, as we had only seen foxes on TV. Except for the bushy tail, the fox looked exactly like any domestic dog. The stop at Lake Onuma took longer than expected (no clock watching!) and we arrived at the hotel late.
Our hotel, Hotel Route Inn, is located next to the port, the main JR station and a fish market. My friend SF’s suggestion that we wake early to visit the morning fish market was not well received. I wanted to see cherry blossoms in the morning, having missed seeing them at Sapporo.
The best place to see cherry blossom is at Fort Goryukako. According to Japan-guide.com, Fort Goryokaku (五稜郭, Goryōkaku) is a massive, star-shaped, Western style citadel, which was built in the last years of the Edo Period for the defense of Hakodate against the imperialist threat posed by the Western powers.
Rows and rows of cheery blossom trees are planted along the banks of the star-shaped fort, as well as on higher ground, forming a two tiered garden full of blooming white trees. There were many locals at the park as well – school children out on excursion, senior citizens having picnics and tourists like us. We had a field day posing for photographs, and enjoying snow-drops of falling petals. (One item on bucket list crossed!)Although visiting the fish market was not enthused, eating at the fish market was another matter. We did not want to pass up the chance to eat fresh and cheap sashimi at the market and thus rushed back to the fish market for lunch before it closes at 2pm.
That afternoon, we visited Motomachi, a historical walking site where many foreigners built houses and churches in the 1800s.
Close by to Motomachi, we took the ropeway up to Mount Hakodate. Mount Hakodate, located at the southern end of a peninsula, gives a breathtaking view of Hakodate at night. The crowd at sunset is so overwhelming that you may not get a photographic spot without someone’s head being in the way.Our last tourist spot was dinner at a brewery near the red-brick warehouse at the port. I was surprised to see many novelties from Singapore at the brewery restaurant – a trishaw, a bin with Merlion emblem on it etc.
Again, SF’s suggestion to visit the red-brick warehouses (now a mall) the next morning was turned down by the group but we agreed to drive her for a 5-minute look-see. For a change, we wanted an early start to our next destination – Noboritbetsu.