Wednesday, August 4, 2010


港まつり and the イカ踊り are big to-do's here in Hakodate. In fact, aside from the local fish market I remember those being two of the first and most famous events I remember hearing about in connection with Hakodate.

港まつり has taken place most of this week, kicking off with the big firework show on Sunday night and going until tomorrow. It's pretty much like your local fireman's fair (is that just a PA thing? Now I'm curious...) just on a grander scale. There's vendors with cotton candy and yakitori, slushies and crepes and lollipop shaped sausage-pops (I kid you not), your good reliable fish catching game - with real fish. And turtles. And games and beer and concerts and just a general good time. Not to mention the fireworks on Sunday were amazing; Pittsburgh really enjoys it's firework shows but it's got nothing on Japan. There were even Hello Kitty shaped fireworks. I rest my case.

The イカ踊り - or squid dance - is basically a two day long parade of townspeople paying homage to their mascot and relatively delicious local catch. Which is quite a strange combination, come to think of it. There are local bands and floats, taiko groups and school kids as well as regular townsfolk who join in the parade, doing the squid dance all the way (actually for a total of about 1 1/2 hours each night). I couldn't justify doing the squid dance for almost 2 hours, but the HIF students joined in for a bit and ikaodori-ed our way down the closed off streets.

Not to mention that prior to the squid dance starting there was a group of zombie attired Japanese parade-goers doing the Thriller dance down the parade route. I think it's actually a requirement to live in Japan that you must know Michael Jackson's entire discography and pack in some of his signature dance moves. My kind of country.

Today was our last day of class and we finish up tomorrow with our final exam. It's strange to think it's over - 8 weeks went so fast and yet so slow at times. We have a small farewell party on Friday at the hotel and then I pack up, ship my luggage to the airport and spend some time on my own in Tokyo before getting on my plane. This is definitely not the end of Japan, though it probably will be the end of my adventures in Hakodate. Well, provided I can secure a spot on the train on Saturday; that's currently a bit of a komaru.

イカ踊り - knicked from Youtube:

Stay tuned!

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