Travis had wanted to go to Hokkaido Island in the North of Japan, and I was on board. He wanted to go to Sapporo to drink Sapporo beer, and I wanted to go to Lake Toya to hike fuming volcanoes. To get there though we first stopped at Hakodate, the first city you enter as soon as you arrive on the island by rail or car.
It took us almost all day to get there via three trains. It was efficient and comfortable, and we watched the scenery and the architecture change the higher north we went. This is what I had pictured when I imagined the North: buildings with very slanted roofs, constructed to shelter them from strong ocean winds. Everything was lower to the ground, coloured to blend in with the environment. It looked completely different than anything I had ever seen before, yet it felt right.
Hakodate is a small fishing town right on the ocean, a center of cultures. We arrived at night, and so we couldn’t see much in our short walk, but the city screamed history. Old brick buildings, old wooden buildings, Western architecture. I couldn’t wait to see this place in the daylight.
We decided to check out the ropeway and see the city at night, from high up. The black parts are the sea, and the part of the city glowing orange is part of the historic district.
Note from the future: Being so close to the water, this city was severely affected by the 2011 tsunami as waves of up to 2.4 meters rushed over the city. When we think of the 2011 tsunami and places that we have visited and will never be the same again, we think of this city.