Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

This is not really a Thanksgiving post, but I will say that I'm thankful to live in a country where the net sum of our national heroes are not just celebrated in the U.S., but in other countries as well - as this statue of Commodore Perry located in the Japanese port city of Hakodote demontrates.

I had a great time in Japan, but the trip was far too short and I did not want to return. Hokkaido was pretty cold at times, but the weather wasn't too bad. Sapporo is a tiny town (about 1.5 million) compared to the mega city that is Tokyo. It's also pretty new, which means it had a easy to navigate grid structure to the roads. Highlights? The fish and crabs were plentiful and tasty as was the beer and sake. My tongue is not so acute as to notice the difference between fish in Hokkaido and fish in the Kanto area - but Tomoe's was and she was the one that marked the trip as an eating tour. Hokkaido is also known for dairy products and chocolate and lamb. Not things you normally associate with Japan. The milk was exceedingly delicious and I made sure to have some every morning with our lunch buffet. Through the miracle of Japanese cuisine, I stuffed myself repeatedly and still lost weight.

Sapporo has a lot of western influences in the architecture. I wish I'd taken more photos of some of the government buildings and Christian churches. Regardless, there were several picturesque landmarks such as this TV tower.

But you can't go to Sapporo without visiting the fish markets. Oddly, a place like the fish market below has no fish smell and a floor almost clean enough to lick - only in Japan.

Within that market were little sushi stalls.

Check out the generous serving of salmon!

I didn't get any pictures of the breweries there, but here's a diagram of the sake making process found at the Sake Musuem (which was not really a museum so much as a store).

Hokodate is a much smaller town towards the southern tip of Hokkaido - but well worth a visit because of a lot of little museums, convenient street cars and historic buildings (again, with a western influence) like this government building

Not the best of pictures, but you get the idea. There's also the Goryaku, a large western style fort built at the time of the Meiji revolution (1860s) - which we did not have time to visit. Photo from this site.

We took a tour of the harbor and I was pleased to see signs of Japanese military vessels like this destroyer.

And this Coast Guard vessel, which, according to the guide on the ship, routinely plays cat and mouse with N. Korean vessels in the area. This is actually the larger of two vessels which lends helicopter support to the smaller one (not shown).

The rest of the trip was spent in Tokyo & unfortunately I didn't get very many sightseeing pictures from there. But I did get plenty of photos of Tomoe's two nephews - who where not the least bit afraid of the ugly pink-skinned monster.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Although I saw these photos and heard the stories first hand, it's great to see the pics again and wish I could get over there sometime soon.