Hakodate

15 Must-Visit Spots In Hakodate, A Hokkaido Port City With A Million Dollar Night View!

Hokkaido 2018.07.13

Hakodate is the sophisticated port city of Hokkaido. In this article we introduce 15 places to enjoy here, from popular areas like the morning market and Mt. Hakodate, to shopping spots for souvenirs.

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by MATCHA

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About Hakodate

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

Hakodate is located near the southern tip of Hokkaido. For many years, this city flourished as a trade port and remains lined with buildings that combine European and other international cultures together with Japanese culture.

Hakodate is a charming city, known for the beauty of its stunning night views and fresh seafood. This article introduces 15 spots you must visit when in Hakodate.

1. Mt. Hakodate

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

When people think of Hakodate, Mt. Hakodate, famous for its million dollar night view, comes to mind.

To see the night view, let’s take the ropeway from the base of Mt. Hakodate. You’ll arrive at the summit in about three minutes. The beauty of the night view is striking, as the contrast between the city lights is concentrated by the narrow terrain and the pitch black ocean.

2. Hakodate Morning Market

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

The Hakodate Morning Market, located just outside Hakodate Station, is a market where you can have your fill of fresh seafood from early in the morning.

In addition to enjoying seafood bowls in restaurants, there’s also a shop where you can fish for squid, Hakodate’s specialty, inside the market. The workers will slice the squid you’ve caught into sashimi (raw seafood) on the spot for you.

The Hakodate Morning Market not only offers seafood, but is also crowded with shops selling sweet seasonal fruits and household goods. Many of the shops will close once it’s past noon, so definitely visit early.

3. Goryokaku

Hakodate

Goryokaku is Hakodate’s most popular sightseeing spot. Originally a fort built at the end of the Edo period, it is now open as a park.

A defining feature of Goryokaku is its giant star shape. It was made in this shape so as to not create any blind spots during enemy invasions. Artillery units were installed at each point of the star and prepared for attacks from the enemy.

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

The surroundings of the fort have been converted into a park where seasonal changes can be seen throughout the year. In the spring, cherry blossoms are in full bloom while the park is dyed in the colors of autumn leaves in the fall.

You can see the entirety of Goryokaku by going up to the top of the 107-meter tall Goryokaku Tower located next to the park. The first floor of the tower is a souvenir shop.

4. Hachiman-zaka Slope

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

Hachiman-zaka Slope is a hilly road that leads straight towards the picturesque port. This hill is known throughout the country and was selected as the number one “Slope in Japan You Would Want to Visit for Sightseeing.”

Hakodate

The roadside trees are illuminated during the winter. The lights from the port and the trees create a very romantic scene.

Hachiman-zaka Slope
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Suehirocho, Motomachi Google Map
Access: 20 minute walk from Hakodate Station, 15 minutes by streetcar (Suehirocho stop).

5. Motomachi

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

In 1859, Hakodate Port opened as one of the first international trade ports in Japan. Since then, Motomachi has now become a sightseeing area with buildings fusing various cultures, from America and Russia to England, influenced from the growth from overseas residents.

The Hakodate Orthodox Church (pictured above), Japan’s first Russian Orthodox Church, is a symbol in this area. The sound of the bells that ring melodically throughout the town at 17:00 every Saturday and Sunday morning were chosen as one of the 100 Best Soundscapes of Japan.

We suggest strolling through the streets of Motomachi that have developed and prospered from the confluence of Eastern and Western cultures.

Hakodate Orthodox Church
Address: Hakodate, Motomachi 3-13 Google Map
Access: Exit the streetcar at Jujigai and walk for 15 minutes
Official Website: http://orthodox-hakodate.jp/ (Japanese)

6. Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse

hakodate red brick warehouse 160816

The Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse originally acted as a storehouse, but is now a shopping complex. Visitors will find a large variety of shopping here, from fashion and household goods to special Hokkaido souvenirs. At the café you can try soft serve ice cream made with fresh milk.

The area is illuminated at night and is perfect for taking a photo for memorabilia! The photos look nice even on rainy days.

7. Hakodate Meijikan

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

If you want to buy souvenirs unique to Hakodate, then head on over to Hakodate Meijikan. The mall has a collection of tasteful items such as glass works, handicrafts, music boxes, teddy bears, and other merchandise.

Foods that Hokkaido is famous for, like desserts, fresh seafood, ham, cheese, are sold at Hakodate Rusama-ya Sweets and the Hakodate Seafood Market. We recommend sampling the food as well as you shop.

Hakodate Meijikan
Address: Hakodate, Toyokawacho 11-17 Google Map
Access: Exit the streetcar at Jujigai and walk for 2 minutes

8. Hakodate Port

hakodate port 160816a

Hakodate Port, located not far from Hakodate Station, flourished as a fishing harbor and trade port for many years.

The port, from where many boats and ships come and go, adds to the beauty of the Hakodate night view and view from Hachiman-zaka Slope. Between April to December, you’ll be able to ride the Bay Cruise Blue Moon and travel around the vicinity of Hakodate Port. Reservations are not required for parties of fifteen or less, so please go directly to the bay cruise wharf (if the boat has been reserved beforehand, you may not be able to join the cruise).

Bay Cruise Wharf
Address: Hakodate, Suehirocho 14-17 Google Map
Access: 5 minute walk from the Suehirocho or Jujigai streetcar stops, 20 minute walk from JR Hakodate Station
Official Website: http://www.hakodate-factory.com/bluemoon/ (Japanese)

9. Seikan Ferry Memorial Ship Mashumaru

Hakodate

The Seikan Ferry Memorial Ship Mashumaru, located right next to Hakodate Station, is a ship museum.

The Seikan Ferry was a regular ferry service that connected Aomori Prefecture and Hokkaido, two areas separated by the ocean. The ferry completed its duty with the opening of the undersea tunnel between Aomori and Hokkaido.

Here, Mashumaru, the actual vessel that was used for the service, has been converted into a museum without any changes. Visitors can enter the wheelhouse, normally not accessible, and imagine what it would be like to be a captain. You can also go out onto the deck and enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze.

10. Former British Consulate of Hakodate

Hakodate

The Former British Consulate of Hakodate was used for 75 years since 1859 as a consulate, and is now well-known as an elegant museum where visitors can come into touch with the era during the opening of Hakodate Port.

Aside from, of course, learning about Hakodate’s history, guests can also relax while enjoying English black tea and baked sweets at the café next door. There are 45 roses of eighteen different varieties that are in season every year from the end of June to the beginning of July planted in the rose garden in the courtyard.

The museum is located right next to Hachiman-zaka Slope, so make sure to visit if you’ll be nearby.

11. Daimon Yokocho

Hakodate

Daimon Yokocho is Hakodate’s only food stall “village,” or market. Here you will find a street filled with 26 food stalls just a five-minute walk from Hakodate Station.

The food stall village contains restaurants frequented by local residents including, of course, izakaya (Japanese taverns) and sushi restaurants that serve fresh seafood. There are also ramen shops, restaurants where you can enjoy jingisukan (grilled mutton) or oden (ingredients stewed in a dashi soup), and bars.

Daimon Yokocho
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Matsukazecho 7-5 Google Map
Access: 7 minute walk from JR Hakodate Station. 5 minute walk from the Hakodate Ekimae streetcar stop
Official Website: http://www.hakodate-yatai.com/ (Japanese)

12. Yunokawa Onsen Resort and Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

Yunokawa Onsen is where you’ll want to go for an onsen resort, or Japanese hot spring resort, with great access from the urban area of Hakodate. It is approximately 30 minutes (240 yen) by streetcar from Hakodate Station to Yunokawa Onsen Station. Aside from the ryokan (Japanese inns) around the station, there are also free-to-use footbaths and day-trip hot springs that you can easily visit.

Another suggested location is the Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden if you are in Hakodate between winter to summer. Here, you can see the monkeys leisurely soaking in the hot springs from December to May, during the Golden Week Holidays.

Yunokawa Onsen is great to stop by on the way to and from your sightseeing in Hakodate as it’s ten minutes by car from Hakodate Airport.

Kosetsu-en

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

If you’ll be enjoying the autumn leaves in Hakodate, then we recommend Kosetsu-en. Originally an area used as holiday villas for wealthy merchants, it is now open to the public.

In the spring, the cherry blossoms are in bloom, but visitors can enjoy the diverse garden landscape throughout the entire year. In particular, the garden is most known for the beautiful koyo, or autumn leaves. The fallen crimson leaves blanket the autumn evening, creating a sight that will surely take your breath away.

Kosetsu-en
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Miharashicho 56 Google Map
Access: Take the bus (Route 14) from in front of Hakodate Station for 40 minutes, then exit at the Kosetsu-en bus stop and walk for 1 minute

14. Mizunashi-Kaihin Onsen

Hakodate

How about soaking in hot springs in the middle of the beautiful outdoors? Consider Mizunashi-Kaihin Onsen, a rare hot spring combining the ocean with a hot spring. Normally submerged, the hot springs only appear and enjoyable when the tide is down.

It is quite far from Hakodate, taking around an hour and a half by car from Hakodate Station. However, visitors have the rare experience of enjoying both hot springs and swimming in the ocean at the same time. The hot springs are free to use. After changing into your swimsuit in the locker room, enter the waters!

Bathing times change depending on the rise and fall of the tide, so please check the official website (Japanese) for details.

Mizunashi-Kaihin Onsen
Address: Hakodate, Esanmasakicho Google Map
Access: 1 hour and a half by car from Hakodate Station. If using public transportation, take the Hakodate-Todohokke (via Kakkumi) bus from in front Hakodate Station for 2 hours and walk for 40 minutes after alighting. There are four buses per day.

15. Onuma Quasi-National Park

onuma quasi national park 160816b

For those that have spare time to travel a bit further from Hakodate, we recommend Onuma Quasi-National Park. You can enjoy Mt. Kisokoma reflected in the surface of the lake, shining like a mirror in the summer, or marvel at the sight of the mountain covered in snow on the frozen winter lake.

It would be a waste to just take a picture after seeing this sight! Onuma Quasi-National Park offers is many outdoor activities for its visitors to partake in. In the summer, enjoy riding a canoe on the lake, and in winter fish for wakasagi, small fish, on the frozen lake in the winter. You can also ride horses here all year round.

The park is reachable in 30 minutes by the Limited Express Hokuto train from Hakodate Station.

Transportation in Hakodate

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

The main sightseeing areas in the city can be accessed by foot or riding the streetcar. If you’ll be visiting the suburbs for Mizunashi-Kaihin Onsen or Onuma Quasi-National Park, be sure to travel with time to spare, as you’ll be taking either the bus or limited express train.

The roads in central Hakodate are well-regulated and conveniently rezoned, so we believe you’ll be able to walk without any problems or getting lost on the road.

Access to Hakodate

Hakodate

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

From Tokyo to Hakodate

The main methods of transportation from Hakodate from Tokyo are by plane and shinkansen (bullet train). For those thinking about travel time and cost, we recommend flying for easy travel.

Airplane
It will take one hour and a half from Haneda or Narita Airport to Hakodate Airport. Tickets will fluctuate depending on the season and airline company with fees averaging at less than 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen one-way. There is one bus offered every 20 to 30 minutes from Hakodate Airport to Hakodate Station in around 20 minutes. It will cost 400 to 500 yen.

Shinkansen (Bullet Train)
If riding the shinkansen, first you will travel to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station from Tokyo Station, then transfer to the JR Rapid Hakodate Liner. It will take four hours and fifteen minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, and will cost 22,490 yen for a reserved seat. It is fifteen minutes by JR Rapid Hakodate Liner (bound for Hakodate) from Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station to Hakodate Station and will cost 360 yen.

From Sapporo Station to Hakodate

Take the JR Limited Express Super Hokuto from Sapporo Station to Hakodate Station for three hours and 50 minutes (with no transfers). It will cost 8830 yen.

Climate and Clothes

Hakodate

Hokkaido is known for its cold winters. Hakodate has an average temperature that will easily reach 20 to 25°C in the summer, from June to September. Temperatures will fall to around below freezing in the winter from December to March. If you’ll be visiting during the winter, please be sure to do you sightseeing while wearing warm clothes.

Get the Most out of Hakodate

Hakodate is full of charming areas and things to do, allowing visitors to enjoy the cultures of a port city influenced by both West and East. We hope you have a wonderful visit and find this article useful!

Original Author: Mayo Nomura

This article is an updated revision of an article originally published on August 15th, 2016.

 

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