Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday, Apr 19th, Sendai, Japan


We were all pretty disappointed yesterday when we arrived at the Hakodate Museum of the Northern Peoples, and found it closed.  The one day this spring that it closed, and it was the day we were to visit it.

Understanding its importance to all of us, Miyuki reorganized our activities this morning, and included a return visit.  The first and second floors of an old bank building contain clothing, tools, and weapons used by a variety of peoples who lived north of Japan.  Of particular interest to us is the Ainu, who lived on this island.  There was a large collection of ceremonial spatulas which we saw being used to stuff bamboo shoots over fire in a video being shown at the museum.

Next, we visited the local fish market, where we saw dozens of edibles from Hakodate Bay.  Catching your own squid was unique, as was drying it to make your own sake cup.  The last major eruption causing the bay left plenty of volcanic ash on the sea floor, which makes for perfect breeding grounds for Japanese squid.

Nearby was a fruit and vegetable market where we we surprised at the high prices for gift boxes of fruit.

Evidently, gift-giving is huge in Japan, and paying high prices for elegantly-packaged fruit is acceptable.  But fifty dollars for two honeydew melons?

We took a bus across town to the fortress of Goryokaku, the main headquarters of the short-lived Republic of Ezo.  This attempt at continuing the Samurai tradition in the northern island briefly resulted in a democratic election and institution of a government based on the United States model.  Swiftly brought down by the overwhelming might of the returning imperial forces in 1869, the military battles and bravery of the 7,000 rebels led by Admiral Enemoto Takaeki was impressive.

The main activity today was getting from Hakodate to Sendai, involving a bus, an express train, and a bullet train (which traveled through 54 kilometers of undersea tunnel between Hokkaido and Honchu.  Once again, the ride was unbelievable.  Anyone who doubts the effectiveness of high-speed rail should come to Japan.  Westerners may find the crowding in Japan's subways uncomfortable, but there can be no complaints about their bullet trains.  Smoother than a jet, and a lot easier to board, this means of travel is long overdue in America.

As usual when we spend until late afternoon traveling, we went out to survey the new city from a tower at night.  Over a million residents enjoy a beautiful city here in Sendai, and the shopping surpasses most everything found in America.

We'll be staying here for two nights, and then returning to Tokyo on Saturday to end our tour.

To see all of the photos taken today, click on Thursday, Apr 19th, Sandai, Japan.

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