The briney air of Hakodate drifted in through the open window of my hostel room. I lay on the futon, reflecting on the morning's success. I'd received not just a ride, but a guided tour of Lake Onuma.
My driver, a retired teacher, had insisted that we go up into the mountains beside the lake.
"It would be a shame for you not to see Onuma. I'm taking you there."
In particular, he wanted to show me a mountain that's shaped like a rice bowl. I didn't really see the resemblance, but he was very excited about the rice-bowl-shaped mountain, to the point where disagreeing with him would probably have gotten me stranded out there.
"Yes, it looks exactly like a rice bowl," I agreed.
He dropped me off right at the door of my Hakodate hostel. He'd driven me 141km -- easily my longest ride yet.
I put my pack down and took a nap. Riding in a car all day is hard work!
I woke up, my stomach screaming at me for sustenance. In the city I'd seen many huge tanks full of crabs, likely unaware of their eventual destination -- the bellies of hungry tourists. But before you get too choked up over the crabs' fate, dry your eyes and remember that it's all part of the
Ciiiircle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle--
The Circle of Life
I contributed to the Circle by devouring a particularly delicious crab served over steamed rice at a little restaurant in an old part of town.
I had to eat quickly though, in order to catch the bus to the top of Mt. Hakodate. It's one of the most beautiful views in Japan, especially at night. People come from all over to see it. It's spectacular. It's inspiring. It's a postcard maker's dream come true.
And I saw nothing.
That night I learned the Japanese word kiri, which means fog -- blankets of which obscured my view of the legendary cityscape. I cursed the fog. I told it to move. But it just sat there, thick, gray, and uncompliant.
As you can see above, I took the token tourist picture anyway. Gorgeous, no? I'm thinking of making prints to sell.
I also chatted with a group of Thai MBA students fluent in both Japanese and English. They headed back to their hotel though, and I took the bus back down the winding mountain road.
Back beside the water, I took some pictures of the quiet harbor front, where visibility was much better.
Disappointment slightly mitigated, I headed back to my hostel and slept, unaware of the fantastic fortune awaiting me the following day. More on that later.