We made it our mission to do as much sightseeing as possible today. So we started with a 7am walk around the western quarter of Hakodate. With Hakodate being one of the first cities in Japan to open itself to foreigners after Japan’s lengthy closed-nation status, the hill to the west of the city is home to a number of old western buildings and churches.
The next spot on the plan was the Hakodate Keirin. Keirin is like horse-racing, but instead of horses and their riders, people place bets on track cyclists. We had thought that there were some live races going on at the Hakodate keirin oval – the only one in Hokkaido – but when we got there at around 11:30am, it turned out that it was actually just a regular broadcast session from a race somewhere in Honshu.
We stuck around long enough to get given a handful of fresh plums by a jovial punter, and get confused at how quick the races seemed to finish; there seemed to only be three laps of actual sprinting – the rest seemed like a number of laps behind a pace-bike just to get everyone in position.
The keirin was going to be most of our afternoon, so with that scratched, we headed early towards our next hotel for the night in the onsen area of Yu-no-Kawa. It was still too early to check in, however, so we ate some lunch in a park, and then we went out separate ways each for an overdue haircut we’d been meaning to get before we left a week ago. Haidee came back mostly satisfied.
Post haircut, we killed some more time at Tony & Teddy’s Tea Room – an English/Japanese/North-American themed cafe, run by the mother of an up and coming Japanese actor, apparently. It was suitably up market.
Our hotel for the night was a large tourist hotel. The highlight of the hotel were the rooftop private hotsprings. This holidaying is tough work.