Hakodate is the 3rd largest city in Hokkaido and a popular touristic destination. It is famous for its magnificent night views from Mt. Hakodate and for its fresh fish. There are plenty of things to do and see in the city, but I chose the best ones for a weekend break. So let’s see together what this city has to offer.
Mt. Hakodate Ropeway
Mt. Hakodate offers one of the best 3 night views of Japan, together with Nagasaki and Kobe. That’s why it’s the no.1 attraction in the city and it cannot be missed. The return ropeway ticket costs 1500¥ and it takes you on top of Mt. Hakodate in about 3 minutes, where a splendid panorama is waiting for you. For a complete and satisfying experience, stop at Genova restaurant for dinner and continue admiring the view from your table.
Motomachi area is located on the foot of Mt. Hakodate and it’s the historical heart of the city. It is blesses with surviving buildings, churches and historical monuments of the past, a living proof of the city prosperity between Edo and Meiji eras. You can spend your day going up and down its ~20 slopes, while visiting its historical heritage.
The Roman Catholic Church, the Hakodate Episcopal Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Higashi Honganji temple, the Old Public Hall, the Former British consulate, are only a few of the main attractions of the area to not be missed.
Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward
Located on top of the Motoi-zaka slop, the old public hall of Hakodate ward is one of the most iconic Western-style buildings in the town. With its beautiful bluish-gray and yellow exterior colors, elegant interior and panoramic view over the harbour which revives the Meiji era, it is hard to remain unnoticed.
During the visit, you can walk around the building while learning more about its history. There are information and videos displayed in English as well. Don’t miss the reception hall and the panoramic view from the balcony, which are the most remarcable places in the building.
The required time for a full visit may vary between 30 min to 1 hour, depending on how much you wanna read / watch the videos. The regular entry ticket is 300¥, but you can opt-in for a combo-ticket which provides you access to 2, 3 or 4 facilities for a total of 500¥, 720¥ or 840¥. You can chose between Former British Consulate of Hakodate, Hakodate City Museum of Northern People and Hakodate City Museum of Literature. There is plenty of time to see all of them in one day as long as you keep an eye on the opening hours. The Old Public Hall of Hakodate is open from 9am – 5/6/7pm, depending on the day of the week and season.
City Museum of Northern People
The City Museum of Northen People displays valuable artifacts about the indigenous people living in the North, more precisely Hokkaido, Kuril and Sakhalin Ainu, Uilta and Aleut cultures. While the museum is not huge, it has the right amount of artifacts and information on display (including English) to provide a clear understanding of these cultures. It takes between 1-2h to see and read everything on display, and every minutes is worth in. At the end of the visit you will have a clear understanding about their clothing aesthetics, handcrafts, religion, diet, hunting methods, shelters, language and many more.
The entry ticket costs 300¥, but combo-tickets are also available. If you didn’t visit Opopoy Museum in Shiraoi, the biggest museum dedicated to Ainu culture in Japan, this museum is a great opportunity.
Former British Consulate
The Former British Consulate was the 3rd one opened in the city of Hakodate, in 1859, after the American and Russian consulates, following the Treaty of Armity and Commerce signed with the US. The initial location was different from the one today, but it burnt several times. The current locaton opened in 1913 and operated until its closure in 1934. Since 1992 it opened to the public under its current form.
Inside the building are several reconstructions, including the consul office, the living room and historical exhibitions and interactive activities. The required time for a full visit is between 30min to 1h and it costs 300¥.
Kanemori Red Brick Houses
The waterfront warehouses are a testimony of the rich past of Hakodate. These multiple buildings are today converted into fashionable shops, restaurants and cafes, while keeping a nostalgic feeling of the past. There are several free resting areas inside, so why not having a break with a view?
Hakodate Morning Market
Located near the JR Hakodate station, the Hakodate morning market it’s an excelent place to start your day. It’s open from early morning till 2pm, which gives enough time for a visit and a long fresh fish breakfast. Don’t expect cheap prices for fresh fish or sushi, but there is always something suitable for any pocket.
The Goryokaku Fort history takes us back to 1853, to the event called “the arrival of the black ships”. It’s the moment when a US fleet arrived in the Japanese port and asked the Tokugawa shogunate to open the country for trading with the rest of the world.
As Hakodate port was one of the first to open, Tokugawa shogunate ordered the construction of a fort to fortify the defence capabilities of the area. After 7 years of constructions, the fort was officially the political, diplomatic and defensive base of the area. But soon after, the Boshin War and Hakodate war occured, which ended the Togugawa shogunate era. Goryokaku Fort turned to be the place where the feudal system was abolished. Today, is a public park and a symbol of the past, offering beautiful scenaries during each season.
Goryokaku Tower offers 360 panoramic view, from 86m and 90m, over the city of Hakkodate and the Goryokaku Fort. It also provides historical information (incl. English) and a graphic exhibition about the ocuupation of the fort in1869. The entry ticket is 900¥ and a full visit requires max. 1h.
If you have more time in the city and you’re looking for additional POIs, there are a few more you can chose from. Check out the Seikan Ferry Memorial Ship “Mashu-maru”, Hakorate Magistrate’s Office, Hakodate City Museum of Literature, Hakodate Art Museum or pay a visit to Yunokawa onsen, just a bit outside the city center.
Well, that’s it from my side. I hope you enjoyed the article and one day you’ll visit Hakodate by yourself. Meanwhile, get inspired from more articles across Japan and not only, here.
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