Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The People of Hakodate Are So Nice
I turned 31 this year. Every year for the past 4 years or so I've had a party with some great people and great music, but at 31 I shifted gears. I decided for this birthday I would celebrate in Japan. So for my actual birthday Shino and I took a trip to Hakodate which is a southern city in the northern island of Hokaido in Japan. Hakodate is a port and actually was the first port in which the western world entered the country. At a time when Japan was a closed country, and still living in the shogun era, America "convinced" Japan to open the country. Do to the western influence many of the buildings have a western influence and can create quite a surreal backdrop. The city ultimately reminds me of San Francisco with it's many hills and trolley cars.
On the day before my birthday Shino and I took a trip to a public bath for some relaxation. Because our history with public baths were attached to hotels we thought there would be soap and shampoo provided, wrong...WRONG. So I'm in the male public bath rinsing off before getting in the bath (shaking my head). Once I'm in the bath I started soaking up the hot water as well as the atmosphere. A Japanese gentleman (Kowata san) approached me in the bath and started a conversation in English and a little Japanese. He was a very nice guy and when I was done with my bath he even offered some soap for me (which was much needed).
Once out of the bath and reunited with Shino, Kowata san told us about a lounge downstairs from the baths. We then joined both him and his wife for a very nice conversation about why we were in Hakodate. We were planning to have sushi that night as Hakodate is famous for it's fresh seafood. Kowata san and his wife invited Shino and I over to their home for sushi. We took them up on their offer as they were right in the neighborhood and not far from our hotel. This lovely couple treated us to a delicious sushi dinner and great company. We talked with them for hours, and watched a music special in Japan in which Kowata san was chosen out of hundreds of amateur musicians to perform in Tokyo. He is a mailman by day and trumpet player/band leader by night. I even shared a beer with Kowata san due to it being customary in Japan to drink (only a lil though). We finally bid them adieu around 1am and walked back through the quiet streets of Hakodate to our hotel. I was now 31.