Dry weather but D. is not in the best of health so we delay our departure. I discover I can view the geyser from a vantage point on the ridge behind the michi no eki without paying an entrance fee. Strangely, I feel no sense of guilt over this clandestine geyser viewing.
D. feeling better, we get under way along the coast heading back towards Hakodate. Here is the very active volcano, Mt. Esan, a very menacing affair. It looms over a fishing village which has its back, very much, to the mountain wall. A steep, narrow road winds to the viewing point for Esan. This ends in a small car park that few, except deer, have visited in quite a while. The view over the sea and the really ominous volcano hanging over your head, is far more rewarding than a lot of other far more famous tourist sites.
Continuing along this coast, with Aomori vaguely visible across the water, all the fishing villages inhabit an extremely precarious position. The villages are ribbon developments, along the inland side of the road, hunched under the shadow of the towering, steep, black cliffs. In front of these dwellings the sea, behind a rock face of uncertain stability as, in many places, it is reinforced with concrete or stout steel netting.
Nowhere to go in the event of a tsunami or earthquake. I thought these villages terrifying places to live but, presumably, they have endured for centuries. Jomon remains have been found around Hakodate and the area has prospered since the 18th. Century.
All along this coast, and others, signs warning of tsunami are evident and escape routes indicated. This all post Fukushima, I suspect. I would be happy to be wrong.
‘Shiraishi Park Hakodate’
After the landscape opens out and the road is no longer hemmed in between the sea and the cliffs, we check Shirishi Park campsite. It is very swish and expensive but it has a coin laundry which we need. We drive into Hakodate however I don’t recall why, perhaps looking for an alternative, or more probably shopping, but in the event, we retrace our steps to stay and do the washing.
We have nabe (Japanese stew) for dinner outside under the stars. It is really getting too cold for this and nabe we have found is the best choice. Other meals tend to get cold very quickly once served.
Shiraishi Park campsite is really ‘kawaii’. It has decorative lights and floral displays in hanging baskets that are very well done. But then there are the signs warning of hornets, venomous snakes, bears (the site boasts an electric fence) and not leaving food around because of the foxes. We see a cat.
＊Shiraishi park Hakodate auto-campsite 4000yen for a car site
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.