The tropical botanical garden and bathing macaques of Yunokawa onsen

The train took us through snowstorms along the sea shore from Tomakomai to Hakodate while we were snacking on chestnuts and calbee’s Jagabee fries. We had left the car in Tomakomai before spending a few days at our host family in Mukawa. I had never been to Hakodate so I was somewhat excited. Although the sun was shining it was freezing when we arrived and made it to the guesthouse we had booked in advance via Air bnb. Nobody was there and when we checked out our room all by ourselves we figured that it would give us nightmares to sleep there because it was that tiny so we went to a cheap hotel instead.

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The hotel was located pretty close to the train station and bus terminals so we hopped on the bus that would take us to Yunokawa onsen where the Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden is located. My experiences with zoos and aquariums in Japan haven’t been that great so far but this one turned out to be different. Although the pool area looked rather rundown, the macaques obviously didn’t care and were having a great time relaxing in the steaming water and taking care of each other. The behaved so human-like that I almost felt bad for taking pictures of them while they were doing their social thing. I wonder what the may think of us?

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The bathing macaques of Yunokawa onsen

Adjacent to the bathing macaques was the actual botanical garden which we happily entered since it was getting dark and we wanted to warm up a little before heading back home -by foot- as we only would find out later. The architecture of the building was pretty amazing as it looked like a circus tent made of glass windows. Going to botanical gardens is something I do pretty often when there’s one around and I’m always amazed by the variety and difference of the many plants. If you ask me it’s sometimes better than visiting a museum because I feel like it’s more interactive. It wasn’t that big but good enough for us and my boyfriend even got to play a Final Fantasy theme on a piano that was standing there and was free to play.

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Angel’s trumpets – lovely but toxic!

When we left the botanical garden and figured out that the next bus wouldn’t come for quite some time, we thought it would be best to walk instead and had about an hour to make it back to the hotel. Even if we were walking along a busy street the atmosphere was magical due to all the snow-covered roofs and pine trees. It wouldn’t stop snowing and by the time we arrived at the hotel our clothes and even the eyebrows were all white. I enjoy walking over scrunching snow, do you?

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Just some random ramen shop in Hakodate

If you happen to be in Hakodate you should try ICHIMONJI, a popular ramen shop located near the Yunokawa area where we went for lunch the day after because it was crowded that night. I had spicy miso ramen and dumplings which both were delicious. Their char siu (roasted meat) which they use as topping is sublime!

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