My ryokan owner had offered to drive me to the train station the previous day. I’d declined but then eventually accepted the offer. I’m glad I did: it was raining.

It was time to leave Hakodate on Hokkaido and return to the main island, Honshu. The two islands are linked by the Seikan railway tunnel (completed in 1988). The tunnel is about 54km — 23km of which is under the seabed, making it the world’s longest undersea tunnel. I took the Shinkansen train to Aomori, my next destination.

After checking into my modern hotel, I walked to the bay area, where most of the tourist sites are. It was a scenic walk. When I got to the bay area, there were a few tanks and other military vehicles parked there. It all seemed friendly; people were posing with and talking to the soldiers.

I was missing good quality bread and was happy to come across a boulangerie selling fresh pain de campagne and pain complete.

I popped into the City Hall, which was filled with open office booths to help people navigate diverse services from tax to welfare.

The sixth to eighth floors of City Hall had a library. This was functional without any distinguishing features apart from a spacious booth for people to watch DVDs (or sleep, as I saw!). At one point, a senior-looking librarian, who could speak English, came rushing up to me and asked me to stop taking photos.

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