Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Just Because...

Traveling to Hakodate in Hokkaido from Osaka last year was done in a whim. Plus it's an excuse to ride on the midnight train.

Another reason is, you know we've been visiting Japan since 2002. All these while, people always asked us - "Have you been to Hokkaido?" We haven't and they'd say it's a pity and they wish to visit the island if they get a chance to go to Japan. I'd always asked them back what they like so much about Hokkaido that they need to go there and ignore the rest of Japan and most will answer "oh, I hear its nice there". Period.

Also, I think Malaysian consumers can be quite obssessed with Hokkaido.  Just put a "Hokkaido" name in front of whatever type of food you are selling, and you bet people will swarm at it. Bakeries selling Hokkaido bread, Hokkaido cakes, there're Hokkaido chocolates, Hokkaido this, Hokkaido that.

While we were traveling from Takamatsu to Okayama last year, Zaini asked me whether we should do something crazy and just head to Hokkaido, spend a few hours there and tell people we've been to Hokkaido just to see what's their reaction would be. Just because.... heh heh

Anyway, the journey just to set our foot on Hokkaido's soil wasn't such a waste. We got to ride on a sleeper train, the Sunrise Izumo which we took from Osaka to Tokyo. That in itself was cool especially for any train buff and we really had a good night sleep in the train, and didn't need to pay for our hotel that night. ^^
In the Sunrise Izumo sleeper train.

We arrived in Tokyo at 6.00am, and boarded another train; not direct to Hakodate which is located in the southernmost tip of Hokkaido but to Aomori, located on the northern most tip of Honshu island.
From Tokyo to Aomori (Shin-Aomori station to be exact), we got to ride on the latest Tohoku shinkansen in the line last year - the Hayabusa. Zaini's been wanting to ride on it and it's covered under JR Pass.
Totally comfy inside, and plus point - power points. Why? Because the boy needs his Nintendo DS to keep him entertained, unlike his Mommy and Daddy who were happy just riding a train for hours. That DS of his needs to get charged occasionally, you know. More so if one travels around for more than 24 hours!

Breakfast was bought at Tokyo Station. Raimie wanted to eat a Panda!
From Shin-Aomori and after traveling 3 hours from Tokyo we got on board the Super Hakucho train to Hakodate. Another two hours' worth of train trip. Did we mind? Nope. We loved it!

See the map of the train route on the photo above? The Super Hakucho travels under-sea to get from Shin-Aomori to Hakodate. It went through the longest tunnel in Japan, the Seikan tunnel. How cool is that?
Interesting view from the train too, while zipping along the track.

What did we do in Hakodate, truthfully? Nothing much. It was too darn cold to be out and about and we weren't prepared for it. On a whim trip, remember? The places we visited - Kyushu, Shikoku and Osaka was warmer at that time than Hakodate was.
Just checking out the quiet town area. We were the only crazies out and walking around on the street when snow started falling. It was snowing and the place is by the sea and wind was strong. COLD! Brrrr...

Took refuge at an omiyage store and ended up buying hordes of stuff there. To pass to the Hokkaido lovers we know back home. They loved it because the souvenirs (just chocolates and biscuits - the generic one you see everywhere around Japan as souvenirs, but having a Hokkaido/Hakodate wrapper) were from... HOKKAIDO!

Actually this is supposed to be a train post but you know me. I like to rant and divert from my main point a lot of times. Ahahah

We'd like to return to Hokkaido someday. For the onsens. For the parks. To visit some small islands. To run in Hokkaido marathon too, perhaps? And maybe if I'm mad enough (not to mention fit enough), I'll follow Haruki Murakami's lead and experience the Lake Saroma Ultra? ^^

23 comments:

  1. I love your adventurous spirit Lina, and how on a whim you just take off for Hokkaido. Hokkaido is like a totally different place from most of Japan and it is almost like visiting another country.

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    1. Oh I totally agree. Hokkaido does feel like a totally different country, more so with the amount of travel one need to do to get there say... from Tokyo.

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  2. The best part of any trip is often the crazy part, like taking off an a tangent and ending up in Hakodate's snow.

    Please tell that other shinkansen freak that I should hate him for having travelled on the Hayabusa, but instead I find myself grinning like a maniac and thinking, "Go, Zaini, go! Yeeeha!" :D

    That photo of him next to the Super Hakucho is super cool.

    Raimie, of course, remains per definition cute in any photo.

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    1. Imagine being completely willing to travel not just part of the way or even to the next station; when one wants to ride a new shinkansen. Nope. Must ride to the last station! Maniac, that guy. And you too, for egging him here. hahaha

      Should I post his photo with the Hayabusa too? ;p

      Raimie... well, I'm biased about his cuteness. kekeke

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    2. Life? Life means to go all out, all the time, until that last station. Why would a shinkansen ride be any different?

      Ooo, are we philosophical today or what?! :p

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    3. "Should I post his photo with the Hayabusa too?"

      What kind of a question is that? YES! Hmph.

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    4. Hahaha we sure are. Ok then... And I will follow him on his journey to the ladt station, if I can. I call it love. Oooooooooo :-D

      OK OK train interior photo n photo of zaini w hayabusa coming up!!!

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    5. (^O^) I'll show you some nice red leaves in exchange for that. Just gimme this weekend ...

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  3. Interesting, Malaysia's Hokkaido obsession. Why would that be? Because desert / tropical jungle savages are all fascinated by the idea of snow? I know I am! :D

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    1. I dunno. Whenever I asked, I just get vague answer.

      I guess it's pretty much due to marketing of bakeries/food outlet and tour companies. xD

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  4. Now you can also say that "you've been to Hokkaido and it is nice there" too! Sounds like a fun trip even if it is just to set foot at the station and buy souvenirs. :)

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    1. Hahaha YES!

      Who cares what and where I actually see or visited there or learn from the visit. Just say - I visited Hokkaido. ;p

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  5. I like Hokkaido because of the food and large nature area.
    Why did you mention about Haruki Murakami?

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    1. Haruki Murakami once ran in Lake Saroma Ultra marathon, which I mentioned in the post? ;)

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    2. Lina, you never fail to make me smile. Murakami, Lake Saroma, Malaysian jungle woman ... weird combination that makes perfect sense.

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    3. I strive to make select lucky few happy. ^_~

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  6. I never knew Haruki Murakami ran in the marathon ^_^

    Ishhhhh you niiiiiii you do know how to twist my arm and make me green with envy, yet again, great photos and more choices of places to go if ever my Japan trip happens in 2013. The train looks erm ..how can i describe to that hehehe but interior, my my ..lots of leg space tak? Your baby boy ni so comel, i just love his smile cam Mummy dia hehehe i must say I like your hubby's cute bag tags hehehe ..

    You know i once said to my husband and my sister that I will never let Isabella near any high tech goodies for her age but guess what...it must be the day and age itself (not that im making any excuses lol) if its not for her tablet, i would never be able to pacify her when we're out and about and shes in her stroller. I just switch it on, put her animal quiz game or talking friends or her numerous cartoon videos lol .. yep im a mum who has been defeated by the high tech goodies..

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    1. Harumi Murakami is a marathoner, with a decent time to boot. I'm not sure about now but he runs/ran daily as a routine. He entered triathlons too. ^_^

      Gadgets for little kids are OK, if given moderately... Kan? Raimie was given the DS as a tool to help him focus n concentrate. Anyway, he is only allowed to play on long journey or transit. No games playing while walking around or at dinner table. :-D

      Leg space in trains? Don't worry. They are very comfy and spacious. I'll do a post and show you the interior in the next post, can? :-)

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    2. Can!!!! When travelling thats what i like leg space and no annoying inconsiderate passenger who thinks its ok to recline their seat all the way

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    3. in the few trips we made to Japan, we've yet encountered inconsiderate Japanese commuters though can't say much about fellow tourists. :-D

      and from our experience, unless your child screams and wails for three hours in the trip : people tend to be more gracious and considerate... The JR staff who do train seats allocation when you reserve your train ticket may/ able to help allocate good seats for you, if they know you are travelling with a baby. I find that very helpful.

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  7. It's pleasant to see your posts. I did not know you wrote a few posts, sorry. I hope you will enjoy Hokkaido very much for staying a few days.
    Your train photos are very fantastic.

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