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Hakodate, of signs and breaking track records

After a couple of enjoyable days spent in Hakodate, it was finally time to start my rail pass. Hakodate is one of the original ports opened up to trade after the end of the Japanese isolation, and many of its key attractions are things like "western style houses" and "former British consulate", which perhaps have less appeal to myself than Japanese people...

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Having said that, the old core of Hakodate is a cool place, and I instantly liked it. Of course it helped that there was a hill to climb - and a big one - Mount Hakodate (cunning name), which has fantastic night views in particular, which as well as a panorama of the city and bays, shows the scarily bright lights of the off shore fishing boats, with small individual boats being brighter several miles away than the city itself. Another obvious bonus was the presence of a brewery, and after being `good` across all of Hokkaido and its many breweries, i felt compelled to try. And despite trying to make entirely non Japanese beers, their ale and weissbeir were more than creditable, and their Kolsch (a special style of beer only made in Koln which I happen to love) was also excellent. And as their menu shows, they don`t mess about with their drinking in this area...

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Why British pubs don`t sell whisk(e)y by the half bottle, i`m not entirely sure!

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Despite the hostel being the most expensive hostel in Japan or my trip in general (about 20gbp a night) Hakodate also had two other wonderfully redeeming features. The first was a velodrome, where i went and watched a few guys training before curiosity in the gaijin took over and i got a crowd of curious Japanese track cyclists asking questions about why I was there. Track cycling is big in Japan (not Alphaville, no), and the first Japanese sportsman in any sport to make 1billion yen career earnings was in fact a track cyclist. After a bit of coaxing, and too much meriment, i got conned into having a ride. What I hadn`t told them before was that i have done the odd bit of riding in my past, and i got incredulous shreeks all around (and free life membership to the Hakodate RC) when in my first timed flying lap i shaved a scary 2.7seconds off the quickest time of those present. In a sport which frequently comes down to hundredths of seconds, thats a big gap. Strangely, they weren`t so keen on me trying a standing start lap time afterwards, but great fun was had. The first time i`ve riden on a proper banked track in several years.

Hakodate`s other major bonus feature to me, was a huge number of daft signs. I love stupid signs, and take lots of pics of them. And Hakodate, seemed to be a good breading ground, especially for questionably translated ones...

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The first one wins prize for most useless sign in a while, whiolst the other two could almost make sense until you realise that they are both attached to toilets...

And with that, it was time to start my rail pass and leave Hokkaido.

Posted by Gelli 02:42 Archived in Japan

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