Let’s explore charming Hakodate, home to beautiful sceneries, historical sites, hot springs and delicious food. It continuously inspires visitors with its natural beauty that goes hand in hand with its history and urban charm. Here are my top 7 favorite places in Hakodate… Hakodate Series: HAKODATE: 7 Awesome Places You Should Visit in Hakodate, Hokkaido! HAKODATE FOOD TRIP: WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT? Hakodate Asaichi (Morning Market): Hokkaido Crab, Tuna, Squid, and Seafood Galore! Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse: Romantic Charm of Hakodate’s Bay Area! MOUNT HAKODATE: “Glimmering Jewelry Box” Night View from Mt. Hakodate! LUCKY PIERROT: HAKODATE’S NO.1 BURGER CHAIN! 1. View from Mt. Hakodate During the night, the city of Hakodate glows from the surface of the world with bright lights and incredible beauty. Awarded with three stars in the Michelin Guide, the night view of the fan-shaped town of Tsugaru Strait and Hakodate Bay is a must-see when visiting Hokkaido. Hop on a ropeway to the summit of Mt. Hakodate and be satisfied with this fantastic view. Read more: MOUNT HAKODATE: “Glimmering Jewelry Box” Night View from Mt. Hakodate!
2. Motomochi Area Promenade Many beautiful churches, temples, and streets line in the Motomichi Area. The sightseeing spots are so close that it’s ideal for tourist to walk around the scenic area containing many of Hakodate’s attractive features. Hachiman-Zaka Slope There are many beautiful slopes around the Motomochi area, but the most lovely is the Hachiman-zaka Slope. Known for its romantic stone-paved slope and the elegant backdrop of the Hakodate Bay. It’s a favorite photography spot often used for filming TV dramas and movies. There are many traditional sweet shops and cafes along the street. Favorite desserts include soft cream, matcha, black sesame ice cream and mochi with red bean paste. Hakodate Russian Orthodox Church Japan’s first Russian Orthodox Church dates back to 1859. Enjoy the lovely tones of its bells while enjoying the nice contrast of the white walls and green onion-shaped dome roof sitting on top of the hill. Visitors can tour the cathedral decorated with icons. Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward The Western-style Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward is the symbol of the City. The gorgeous house sits on top on the stone-paved slope housing main halls where balls used to be held with a balcony overlooking the sea. You can even pretend to be a noble lady and rent out a costume! Admission: 300 yen, Rental dress: 1,000 yen for 20 minutes / dress, hair: 1,000 yen. Higashi Honganji Temple After being destroyed in a devastating fire in 1907, the temple was rebuilt with reinforced concrete in 1915 as a safeguard against further fires. It became well known as the first concrete temple built in Japan. 3. Goryokaku Fort One of Hakodate’s landmark is a 107-meter-tall tower offering a great view of the first western-style star-shaped Fort of Goryokaku. In spring it turns into one of Hokkaido’s leading cherry blossom spots, while in winter the frozen moat is lit up for visitors to witness. The construction of the fort dates back to 1853 when a U.S. fleet arrived at a Japanese port opening it’s doors to international trade. The unique star-shaped citadel has its origin in the 16th century Europe, with the development of guns, canons, structures like these fortresses were built during the war-torn era to reduce blind spots and protect the city. Japanese who have been to Europe brought back the design and technology during the last Tokugawa shogunate era. This area was where the last civil war in Japan took place during 1867, when Tokugawa shogunate government returned its political power to the emperor, and the new Meiji government decided on an entirely new political system which resulted to many Japanese samurais losing their jobs. You can learn more about the history of Goryokaku at the Hakodate Magistrate’s office. The best time to visit is during the late April or early may when the 1,600 beautiful Someiyoshino cherry blossom trees bloom along the star shape Goryokaku fort. An impressive sight indeed! Admission: Adults 840 yen, Junior and HS Students 630 yen, Elementary students 420 yen. Hakodate Bus: Get off “Goryokaku Koen Iriguchi” Bus Stop and walk 7 minutes by foot. Street Car: Get off the “Goryokaku Koen mae” Bust Stop and walk 15 minutes by foot. Website: www.goryokaku-tower.co.jp 4. Hakodate Asaichi (Morning Market) If there’s one thing you can’t miss when visiting Hokkaido, it’s their seafood! Fatty salmon and tuna, sweet hairy and king crab, and amazing squid sashimi are among what tourists from Japan and overseas always rave about when in Hokkaido. You’ll surely be impressed by the taste and freshness of their seafood. The Hakodate Morning Market is conveniently located near the JR Hakodate station and opens daily from 5 am (6 am during winter) until noon. Various types of seafood are on sale here such as crabs, squids (Hakodate’s specialty), tuna, salmon eggs (ikura), sea urchin, as well as fresh produce like Hokkaido’s famed sweet melons. There are also many restaurants in the market offering fresh seafood donburi. Here’s a quick guide to enjoy the bustling Hakodate Morning Market…
5. Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse Hakodate was Japan’s first international trading port in 1859. Several red brick buildings formerly used as warehouses survived the test of time, and have been converted into one of Hakodate’s famous sightseeing spot housing different beer halls, restaurants, sweet shops and unique souvenir shops. Today, it still continues to transport visitors to a feeling of nostalgia and unforgettable time. Here’s a quick guide on where to eat, what to do and shop at Kanemori’s Red Brick Warehouses… Read more: Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse: Romantic Charm of Hakodate’s Bay Area!
6. Trappestine Convent Founded as the first convent in Japan. The 1891 architectural structure is a mix of Gothic and Romanesque features represented in the brick walls, round arch, and beautiful windows. The forecourt center is open to the public where sweets handmade by the nuns are purchasable at the shop. Their favorite item are the yummy madeleines (1000 yen for 8 cakes)! Admission: Free Trappist Convent Tip: Only males are allowed inside.
Trappist Monastery (Hokuto) Established in 1896, this was the first Japanese boy Trappist Convent in Japan. Tip: Only males are allowed inside. The butter and cookies made from the traditional method from this monastery are favorite gifts and souvenirs. Train: About 20-minute walk from JR Esashi Line Oshima-Tobetsu Station. Car: 1-hour ride from Hakodate 7. Japanese Monkeys at the Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden The Japanese monkeys look so relaxing as they warm up in the hot tub! The garden hosts to over 100 Japanese macaques (or snow monkeys). Although they can be seen all year round, they are particularly sought-after during the winter time when they can be seen taking a leisurely dip in the hot springs. Tip: The monkeys warm themselves in the steaming pool of mineral water from December 1 to the beginning of May. Admission: 300 yen, Elementary to High School student 100 yen. Tram/Streetcar: Take one bound for Yunokawa. A 2-5 minute trip from Hakodate Eki-mae stop. Then 15 minutes walk from the Yunokawa stop. Hakodate Bus: 20-minutes from Hakodate eki-mae terminal to Nettai Shokubutsuen-mae stop. Taxi: 15-minutes from JR station How To Get There: By Air (Manila to Tokyo): Japan Airlines (JAL) flies from Manila to Tokyo every day going to Tokyo-Manila. Price range depends on the month of booking or airline’s promo usually around 420-600 USD + TAX. (MNL – TOKYO Departing time: 9:50 and 14:35) We enjoy JAL’s excellent customer service, comfortable seats, spacious leg room, on board entertainment and tasty snacks.
By Train (Tokyo-Hakodate): About 4 hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto without any transfers. (23,000 yen) Where To Stay: We stayed at Hotel Chocolat Hakodate which is conveniently a 12-minute walk from the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse where you can find dozens of restaurants and shops. It’s just a 13-minute walk from the Hakodate train station. The 3-star hotel offers cozy western style rooms with sitting areas. My favorite part is the traditional Japanese breakfast where we have fresh squid sashimi and very fatty grilled salmon fillet. Address: 1-1 Otemachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan Phone: +81 138-26-1330 Hakodate Series: HAKODATE: 7 Awesome Places You Should Visit in Hakodate, Hokkaido! HAKODATE FOOD TRIP: WHAT AND WHERE TO EAT? Hakodate Asaichi (Morning Market): Hokkaido Crab, Tuna, Squid, and Seafood Galore! Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse: Romantic Charm of Hakodate’s Bay Area! MOUNT HAKODATE: “Glimmering Jewelry Box” Night View from Mt. Hakodate! LUCKY PIERROT: HAKODATE’S NO.1 BURGER CHAIN! Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: Our experience was a project organized by the Hokkaido District Transport Bureau. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.