Japan 2016: Hakodate, Okinawa, & Tokyo

I've been back from our 2016 Japan trip for a few weeks now, but I've been so busy that I didn't get a chance to edit many photos until now. We were there for two weeks, split up between Tokyo, Hokkaido, and Okinawa.

I had never been to either Hokkaido or Okinawa before, so it was great that I was able to go this time. I was undecided between Hakodate and Sapporo in Hokkaido, but after doing some research, I decided on Hakodate, which is a medium-sized fishing town on the southwestern side of the island. The town, along with most of Hokkaido, is best known for its seafood, particularly uni (sea urchin roe). This was perfect because it just happens to be the favorite food of both my wife and my mother, so they thoroughly enjoyed this part of the trip. Actually, I think Inna ended up having a big bowl of uni for three straight meals.

Hakodate was very slow-paced and quiet, almost as if it were stuck in the 70s. Not that everyone was wearing disco clothes and sporting afros, but the architecture looks like it hasn't changed much since then. From what I understood, the city itself isn't doing so well economically, so there were a lot of abandoned businesses scattered throughout. There's not a whole lot to see or do in Hakodate. The main attractions are the fish market, the Goryokaku fort, and the Mount Hakodate ropeway. We spent two days in Hakodate before jetting off to Okinawa, which is on the complete opposite end of Japan's chain of islands.

In Okinawa, we stayed at a beach resort about an hour north of the capital city of Naha. There wasn't a whole lot to do up there other than beach-related activities, but I suppose that's the main reason why people go to that part of the island. We did stumble upon a place called Ryukyu-Mura, which was a theme park that was built to resemble a traditional Okinawan village. This was definitely a cool cultural experience and not like your typical theme park with rides and games.

After a few relaxing days in Okinawa, we flew back to Tokyo where we spent the remainder of our trip. We took a day trip to Mt. Fuji, but the weather was pretty gloomy that day and the visibility was very poor. We went to the Shiraito waterfalls, took a loop around Mt. Fuji, and ended up at a shrine that overlooks the town of Kawaguchiko with a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji in the background. While it was still cloudy, it seemed that luck was on our side as the snow-capped peak slowly came into view and it cleared up just long enough for us to get some shots in.

Other than a couple of quick day trips, we spent the rest of our trip just doing the normal Tokyo activities... eating, drinking, shopping. We ate at some amazing restaurants, along with possibly the best sushi bar I've ever been to, Sushi Kanesaka in Ginza. We tried making reservations at several other locations, but they were all full, so my cousin booked us a spot at this place and I'm so thankful that she did.

Overall, this trip was great. It was mostly about visiting two new places in Japan that I had never been to before. There are so many places throughout this diverse country that I want to see, but it's always a challenge because I usually only have about two weeks to spend over there. Between visiting family and enjoying Tokyo, there's never enough time to explore all the places in Japan that I want to see. I guess that just means I'll have to go back again soon!