Fifth Day in Hokkaido

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 21:28

This article first appeared in our old blog on September 22, 2013.

Last night we stayed at Yunokawa Heisei Hall. Like other big hotels, they also have ryokans and onsen.

Remember Yukata? The right way to wear it is to wrap the right side first, and then the left side. Do it the other way for a deceased.


We don’t have to bring anything into onsen but the small towel. Body cleanser, shampoos are available inside. Even body lotions, and drinking water because after soaking in the hot water, we tend to be dehydrated and the skin becomes quite dry. In every onsen I visited while I was in Hokkaido, the body cleanser and shampoos were always made of horse oil.

Horse oil had been used as traditional drug for cuts, burns and insect bites from centuries ago. It was said that the Chinese introduced this to Japan around 7th – 9th century.

Last year my husband brought home from Japan cream made of horse oil. One day, hot oil spilled on my hand and my son who went with him to Japan told me to rub the cream on my hand. By evening, there was no sign of burn on my hand as if nothing had ever happened.

The content of saturated fatty acids in animal fat is usually high but not the case in horse oil. Horse oil contains high unsaturated fatty acids, alpha – linolenic acids  and linoleic acids that cannot be produced in the body.

Besides, horse oil is easily absorbed by our skin because the composition of the fatty acid is so similar to human sebum compared to other oil or fat. Rub on skin, it is absorbed smoothly without that greasy feeling. Horse oil for cream is taken from neck area.

Trappistine Convent

This morning we visited Trappistine Convent, first convent in Japan built by eight nuns from Ubexy, France, in year1898. Bishop A. Berlioz, who was stationed in Hakodate asked them to come because he thought the place needed missionaries to spread Christianity. Life was so hard for them at first that the headquarters in France thought of calling them back. There was a big fire in 1926 that damaged most parts of the convent. It was then reconstructed. The main building is a red brick, European-style castle. The official name of the convent is ‘Our Lady of the Lighthouse Trappist (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance) Monastery,’

We may not go inside the main buildings but there is a souvenir and museum we can visit. And of course there is a small chapel for visitors. When you visit, feel free to buy the dolls and cookies made by the nuns themselves. The most sold are butter candy and Madeline cake. There are around 80 nuns live in the convent now. They are self-sufficient by working in the field and raising cows. They wake up at 3.30 a.m and go to bed at 19.45, they work eight hours and pray another eight hours a day.

This Mother Mary statue welcomed us as we entered the gate. Standing next to her was one of the three archangels Michael . If you are wondering, the other archangels are Gabriel and Raphael, but they were not there.

The souvenir shop and museum
up the stairs to the top…
Lourdes Cave imitation
The main building where the nuns stay

Outside, the view was just as spectacular. Hydrangeas along the roads were blooming and the ice cream was superb and contains only 8% fat!


Goryokaku Park

For you, who love to read history books or watch history movies, wars or revolutions, would love Goryokaku Park. Reading the shortened history written at spots in the park made me visualizing the incidents as if I was watching a movie.

Goryokaku Park, the only Special National Historic Site in Hokkaido, for me, is a must see place. Starting in year 1853, America made Japan open its door for international trade.  Shogun Tokugawa, who ruled Japan at the time, opened Hakodate port. If you are familiar with Japan’s anime or video games, you might have heard of Shogun Tokugawa. They built Hakodate Magistrate Office as the center of Hokkaido government. In 1855 Takeda Ayasaburo designed Goryokaku fort with Vauban style from France (He read Dutch military architect books). Goryokaku fort took the shape of a star.  The benefit of this kind of shape is that more guns can be placed along its walls and reducing the blind spots for cannons. The office building was collapsed after the fall of shogun era in 1871 but Hakodate managed to rebuild it and open it for public in  2010.

Hakodate Magistrate Office at the center of Goryokaku fort.

Around 1910, the fort was made into a public park. More than 1600 cherry blossoms planted along the moats made it the most visited place in spring. Early May is the best time to enjoy the cherry blossoms here.

Beside Hakodate Magistrate Office, there are the Hakodate Museum and Goryokaku Tower. From the top of the 107 m tower we can see the bird’s eye view of Goryokaku Fort and also some part of Hakodate City. The tower was rebuild in 2006 replacing the old 60 m tower.

Goryokaku Tower
Boats for rent to cruise around the fort

Takeda Ayasaburo, studied medicine, western science , navigation, military architecture, built schools, sailed to Russia. To be infected a tiny bit of his IQ, rub his head, In fact, it was so shiny due to the many tourists rubbing it each day. lol….

Hakodate Morning Market

Hakodate morning market (Hakodate Asaichi), only several steps from Hakodate station, starts every morning at 5 ( 6 in winter)  until noon. More than 450 shops sell fresh and dried seafood, vegetables and fruits especially melon, also clothing and others. Beside shops, there are seafood eateries and places selling grilled seafood, corn and melon pieces.

The entrance of the market. Inside, it covers four blocks area
There are salmon eggs, fresh crabs, and dried seafood. The most sought for dried goods are dried scallops.
Just caught from the sea. The baby squids are inside the bubbles!
I hadn’t seen black crab before.

Hakodate Morning Market was our last stop. Sayonara Hokkaido, Mata oai shimashō. I will see you again, hopefully in another season to see your other face.

Day Four


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