Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tsuruoka to Hakodate

Written July 30, 13:39

I'm 3 days into my trip and sitting on my 7th train headed to Sapporo. I think I'm actually getting worse at ridding them. We were held up at Akita station trying to activate Jeff's rail pass. Granted there's a language barrier, but even for helping the locals, the attendants were extremely slow. It's like they weren't working at a place where time matters because the slightest inefficiencies can cause someone to miss their train and be 3 hours late. Akita must be the Oregon of Japan.

We finally made it to Hakodate (Hak.o.dat.ay) around 8 pm (JST) last night. I was exhausted after the slow local train between Akita and Aomorie. I planned to take the trolly up to Mt. Hakodate to get some city shots, but the weather was foggy, so pictures would be a bust. The fog made for nice cool weather though. Traveling from Tsuruoka to the Hokkaido prefecture is like traveling from San Diego to San Francisco, both in time and climate. We went for a walk through the city on a mission to find good ramen noodles. Success! 
I had the Golden Shio flavor. Plain stock with ramen, onions, pork, spinach, and imitation crab.

Jeff had the Wonton. Same as the Golden Shio but with wontons.

We split an order of gyoza. Yum!

Many of the places that served ramen, including the one we went to, had a dish called Butter. This ramen  had corn, asparagus, a few huge slabs of butter in it. (This place also "serve you a great time"!--Upper right hand corner of picture)

In the morning, we headed out to the Morning Market, my main reason for stopping  in this small, but urban city. Open daily from 5am to noon, this market was huge! The specialty was live and dried seafood and cantaloup. A few of the salesmen spoke English. They always ask if we're from New York. When we tell them we're from Los Angeles, or California, (there's no way they're going to be familiar with San Diego or Seattle) they say, "oh, America!". 

One of the many bustling allies of the market

Giant scallops

Fresh sea urchin

Ready to eat fresh sea urchin

Cooked spiny crab, one of the three types they specialize in here (Hairy and king are the other two)

King crab fighting with squid. There were lots of tanks with live squid!

Our hotel just behind the market.

Now, I am expecting to arrive in Sapporo in about an hour. I'm looking forward to the big city. Sapporo is the fourth largest city in Japan. I want to find an electronics store and a mall for sure!


UPDATE: As I write this, there are three little boys, about 10, 11 years old, fascinated with me and Jeff. Earlier, I helped one get his duffle bag on the overhead storage. I'm sure if I understood them, I would think that they're annoying little hooligans based on the way they interact with some of the other kids behind us. One of them has been peering through the seat at me, I catch him between songs on my iPod and sentences. It seems that he doesn't know English as well as his two seat mates. He's also the most rambunctious. Now he has finally gestured to talk to me. They are surprised I have an iPod, even though one of them has the superior iTouch. I ask, "You like candy?" Boy: "Kan? Candy! Yes, yes, candy!" I hand 3 carmel apple lollipops through the space between the seats. Excited, they tear the sticky wrappers off. Take a couple licks. Then turn around and give me an enthusiastic  "Good! Very good!" and thumbs up. A moment has passed, the same boy turns around and asks in the same way I asked, "You like candy? Tea candy?" "Yes, thank you" They hand me a handful of individually wrapped and varying tea candies. I return, "Thank you, very good" and a cheesy thumbs up. As they leave, they turn and say "See you!

These are one of the things you don't get out of the travel guides, cultural interaction...and learning that carmel apple pops are awesome everywhere! 


sara says:
at: August 1, 2010 at 10:44 PM said...

haha hilarious.......Akita must be the Oregon of Japan. sounds like you loved Akita and will be spending a whole lot of time there! haha Hope your having fun. T-minus 3 days until Europe!!!!!

SurelyMaeby says:
at: August 1, 2010 at 11:37 PM said...

Pshhh! We skipped on the way back! We took a 5 hour sleeper from Aomori to Tsuruoka as a point to skip Akita!

Can't wait for Europe! Have you set up a picasa yet? I want to see photos!

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