Hakodate is one of those "romantic" cities that I usually have no interests in. However, from the guidebook it seems like this is a city with good historical and literature background. That is why I decided to stop by.
From the hotel in Yunokawa onsen, I walked about 1 hours along the beach and arrived at a memorial park of a poet called Ishikawa Takuboku 石川啄木. It was a wonderful walk but the beach was pretty much deserted. Maybe the locals know other nicer beaches.
Takuboku was born in Iwate prefecture which is the next next prefecture down to the South of Hokkaido. In his short 27 years of life, he enjoyed his best moments in Hakodate. The beautiful scenery (e.g.., The beach that I enjoyed walking) and the unforgetable encounters with certain individuals had a great influence on his work.
From what I read Takuboku seemed like a genius with an eccentric character. He left his home town because he was ousted by the principal of the school where he taught at. Fortunately he had some good acquaintances in Hakodate who appreciated his talent and invited him to come over. They even supported him financially and introduced jobs to him. While working as a substitute teacher in a primary school, he felt in love with a fellow teach Ms. Tachibana Chieko 橘智恵子(he was already married at that time). He was so crazy about her that he wrote 22 poems expressing his feelings, but he was so shy that during his one month tenure at the school he only talked to her twice.
The good days didn't last long as a huge fire swept away the school and the newspaper company where he worked for. He started wondering into other parts of Hokkaido and died the next year. While staying in Kushiro 釧路 he met another woman who touched his life. That was a geisha with the name Koyakko 小奴.
Throughout these period, his wife Setsuko was faithful and supportive. While he left for Hakodate to find a new career, she stayed behind in Iwate to take care of the family. After he settled down in Hakodate she moved over, but pretty soon they parted again when he left Hakodate. While he was away he asked the friend who invited and supported him, Mr. Miyazaki Ikuu 宮崎郁雨, to take care of his wife and parents. Miyazaki fell in love with Setsuko, and eventually married the younger sister of Setsuko. I used to think this could only happen in movies (the Mexican movie "Like water for chocolate"). I wonder what his motivation was in marrying the younger sister: was he so crazy for Setsuko that he just wanted to get close to her through the marriage, or he gave up and transfered his affection to the sister because of their physical and/or personality resemblance? Did he feel bitter about the fact that Takuboku was fooling around while he had to shoulder the responsibility of a husband without getting any love in return? If I were him I don't think I can handle this emotionally; either I would demand Setsuko divorce Takuboku then marry me, or stop seeing Setsuko altogether. Well I guess I am just an ordinary selfish man while Miyazaki is a saint.
Setsuko's miserable life ended soon after Takuboku died.
Another interesting person in Hakodate's history is called Hijikata Toshizou 土方歳三. He is the hero who fought bravely for the rebel army against the Meiji emperor's new government. At the beginning of Meiji period, a group of warlords led by ??? (forgot, but who cares what his name was anyway) occupied Hakodate and founded the Ezo republic 蝦夷共和国. Hijikata was not a stupid guy and he must have known that resistance against the Meiji government was bound to fail. However, his courage to fight against the invincible enemy and his determination to do his best won the heart of generations of people. People in Hakodate established a small monument at the ground where he fought to death, and even today fresh flowers are still offered.
Even though Hijikata can be classified as the so-called "enemy of history" because he fought against the "right" government for the "wrong" side, this doesn't undermine his greatness at all.
There were other interesting museums about various people who contributed to transforming Hakodate from a tiny poor fishing village to a prosper harbor city, for example, Takadaya Kahei 高田屋嘉兵尉 and Watanabe something. Usually I prefer seeing countryside than museums but it was quite an enjoyable experience in Hakodate.
Other than history Hakodate is also a nice modern city to live at. For example, the water front area looks like the one in San Francisco. One can take a walk, do some shopping, sit down and drink a cup of tea. Many cities in Japan such as Tokyo and Yokohama don't have this kind of nice relaxing area.
Well the day at Hakodate concluded my short trip in Hokkaido. I went back to Yunokawa onsen to soak for one more time (日帰り温泉） and left Hakodate at midnight by the Hokutosei 北斗星 train.
Looking back at the time I spent away from Tokyo, I was surprise at how easily I have forgotten about certain things that worried me a lot back in reality, this is my heart telling me that they are not important in my life. On the other hand, sometimes when I was alone and peaceful, such as the night when I was waiting for the Hokutosei train in the Hakodate station, suddenly some friends whom I haven't kept in touch for a long time would jump to my mind. I know it is my heart reminding me that deep inside that I miss them and treasure them.
This has been a trip for me to listen to my heart, and I would certainly do this more often.