NE Japan and Hokkaido, Dec 2010

In early December of 2010, we embarked on another great Japan trip. Starting out in our old home city, Tokyo, we boarded the shinkansen with our 10-day JR rail passes and headed north, along the eastern coastline and to Hokkaido. After a few days in the capital Sapporo, our journey took us to the port city of Hakodate, to the ancient samurai town of Kakonodate, and on a long series of local trains back to Honshu island and the old onsen town of Naruko.

Ginza on a car-free Sunday morning in early December Only in Tokyo . . . mob off, will ya?

Heading north from Tokyo, along the lovely eastern coastline, just 3 months before the big earthquake and tsunami destroyed most of it. O-bento . . .even the food is a cut above on Japanese trains

Zooming through the Seikan tunnel. It’s a whopping 53.85 km long (23.3km of which under the seabed) and 240m below sea level, which makes it the longest and deepest railway tunnel and the longest undersea tunnel in the world. It connects Aomori prefecture on Honshu with the island of Hokkaido. Amenities you couldn’t possibly have thought of are provided, courtesy of Eastern JR.

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A delightful afternoon at the Sapporo Beer Museum, run by the Sapporo Brewing Company. A free self-guided tour takes you through the history of beer in Japan (started by Seibei Nakagawa, a German-trained brewer, who became Japan’s first brewmaster in June 1876). There is lots of fantastic advertising paraphernelia and an apartment-block-sized copper vat that would command incredible real estate prizes in Tokyo. You end up in the very authentic looking beerhall, where, for 500 yen, you can sample some really good Sapporo brews – Prost! Arriving on the train in Hakodate. The hourglass-shaped port city was the first to open its gates to foreign trade in 1854.



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