Once the sun descends behind the mountains, the city of Hakodate comes alive like a sea of glittering jewels. Hakodate-shi as it is known locally is the capital city of Oshima Sub-prefecture in Hokkaido. The view from Mt. Hakodate is acclaimed as one of the three best night-views in Japan.
Its my last night in Hokkaido. We take the Ropeway to the observation deck on Mt. Moiwa. It is thrilling, witnessing the spectacular panorama of the streets of Sapporo and the Ishikari Bay, twinkling like countless diamonds floating on a dark sea. I so love Hokkaido!!
We take a walk on the streets of Otaru. The roads are lined with vintage houses from the bygone eras. And the word is the Otaru Canal turns into a mystical place in the evenings.
We ride to Cape Sōya in Wakkanai. Cape Sōya is the northern-most point of Japan and just about 150 kms away from Russia. In fact one can just take a ferry from the port nearby, to Russia. Once we reached, the breeze suddenly picked up and we were barely able to see beyond a few meters in the Whiteout. Ugh, my palms are numb again!
I do not approve off Zoo’s. The idea of animals in captivity does not appeal to me. The only reason I had to visit Asahiyama Zoo was I couldn’t come back from Japan without meeting the Polar Bear. With their numbers plunging by 40% in the last 10 years, this might be my only chance of seeing the white bears.
It was supposed to be a drift ice cruise. Each year ice forms near the mouth of the Amur River in Russia. From there it drifts southward, aided by currents, until it eventually rolls onto Abashiri. The drift ice appears around late January and stays till mid-April. Unfortunately it was gone, almost a month early. What is going on!! Can someone please take a stand and stop this global warming?
We go on an incredible journey into the lives of the Ainu people at the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples. The true origins of the Ainu people remain a big mystery to this day. It is common knowledge that the Japanese language is inspired by Chinese but it has to be stated that the Ainu speak a language that resembles no other language in Asia or its surroundings.
Ainu Kotan is a small Ainu village near Lake Akan. The village comprising some 40 Ainu households live here in scattered huts in an attempt to preserve the Ainu culture. The Ainu are greatly skilled in wood works and various shops can be found in the village selling wood carvings and embroidery.
We ride to lake of the Gods. The aborigine Ainu called it so, for a reason. Surrounded by 200 m high crater walls, the deep blue mirror-like waters of Lake Mashu make for a unique landscape. We are lucky travelers I guess, for it is frequently blanketed in heavy fog and a rarity to view at its scenic best