Hakodate Travel Guide: Things to Do in Hakodate, Japan

Welcome to Hakodate, a charming city located in the southern part of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. With its intriguing mix of historical landmarks, natural beauty, and delicious culinary offerings, Hakodate is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a unique experience.

As you step foot in Hakodate, you’ll be greeted by the city’s picturesque waterfront, where the historic red-brick warehouses of the Motomachi district stand in harmony with modern architecture. Take a stroll along the scenic Bay Area, where you can admire the panoramic views of the sea, Hakodate Port, and the iconic Goryokaku Tower.

Speaking of Goryokaku, this star-shaped fort is a prominent symbol of Hakodate’s past. Explore its grounds, which transform into a beautiful cherry blossom wonderland in spring, or visit the nearby Goryokaku Tower for a breathtaking aerial view of the fort and surrounding gardens.

Hakodate Local Culture

For a taste of local culture, make your way to the lively morning market, where you can browse through a vibrant array of seafood, fresh produce, and local handicrafts. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor some of Hakodate’s specialties, such as savory seafood bowls and delectable squid ink soup.

As the sun sets, Hakodate unveils its famous night views, considered among the best in Japan. Head to Mount Hakodate via the ropeway or by car to witness the city’s glittering lights spreading beneath you like a sea of stars. The panoramic vistas from the mountaintop observation deck are truly awe-inspiring and offer an unforgettable experience.

History and Nature

Immerse yourself in Hakodate’s history by visiting the historic district of Motomachi, where you’ll find elegant Western-style buildings dating back to the Meiji era. Explore the charming streets lined with cafes, boutiques, and art galleries, and visit the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward, a beautifully preserved European-style building.

Nature lovers will be enchanted by the nearby Onuma Quasi-National Park, known for its tranquil lakes, lush forests, and scenic hiking trails. Take a leisurely boat ride on Lake Onuma, marvel at the volcanic Mount Komagatake, or simply immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere of this natural wonderland.

With its unique blend of history, natural beauty, and culinary delights, Hakodate offers an unforgettable travel experience. Whether you’re exploring its historical sites, savoring its delicious cuisine, or taking in its breathtaking views, Hakodate promises to captivate your senses and leave you with cherished memories of your visit. Get ready to embark on a journey of discovery in this delightful city.

Hakodate Travel Guide: Things to do in Hakodate, Japan

Hakodate City Guide: A Brief History Of Hakodate, Japan

Hakodate has a rich and fascinating history that adds depth and character to the city. As a traveler, understanding the historical background of Hakodate will enhance your experience and appreciation of its landmarks and cultural heritage.

Hakodate’s history dates back centuries, with its roots as a small fishing village inhabited by the indigenous Ainu people. However, its modern history began in the 19th century when Japan opened its doors to international trade.

In 1854, Hakodate became one of the first ports in Japan to open to foreign trade following the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa with the United States. This led to an influx of foreign traders and diplomats, contributing to Hakodate’s development as an international trading hub.

During the late 19th century, Hakodate played a significant role in Japan’s political landscape. In 1868, it became the center of the short-lived Republic of Ezo, which sought to resist the central government’s rule during the Meiji Restoration. The conflict resulted in the Battle of Hakodate, where the imperial forces emerged victorious, marking a turning point in Japan’s modernization.

The historical district of Motomachi showcases the remnants of Hakodate’s foreign influences. It features Western-style buildings dating back to the Meiji era, including churches, consulates, and former foreign residences. Exploring Motomachi allows you to step back in time and witness the architectural legacy left by traders and diplomats from various countries.

Another iconic landmark steeped in history is Goryokaku, a star-shaped fort built in the mid-19th century. Originally constructed as a Western-style fortress, it served as the battleground during the Battle of Hakodate. Today, Goryokaku is a popular destination where visitors can explore the fort’s grounds, enjoy cherry blossoms in spring, and learn about its historical significance.

Hakodate’s historical legacy extends to its role in Japan’s modernization and industrialization. The city became an important center for trade, commerce, and transportation, contributing to its economic growth and urban development. The red-brick warehouses in the Bay Area are a testament to Hakodate’s past as a bustling trading port.

By delving into Hakodate’s history, you gain a deeper appreciation for its cultural heritage, architectural landmarks, and the resilience of its people. Take the time to explore the historical sites, visit museums, and engage with the local community to uncover the stories and influences that have shaped Hakodate into the captivating city it is today.

Hakodate city at night high vantage point views in Japan

Hakodate Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Japan

Those entering Hokkaido via ferry will arrive at the historic city of Hakodate.

Boasting a magnificent fortress, an attractive foreigner district, and great museums, it will prove to be a worthy introduction to this massive island.

Come check out our Hakodate travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Hakodate, Japan.

Often throughout its history, Japan has closed itself off from the world. By the 19th century, though, they could not afford to ignore the massive growth and influence of Western powers. While Hakodate was one of a handful of cities they opened up to foreign traders, they also correctly realized this opened them up to an attack by the countries from which they were from.

To defend against this, the Japanese built Fort Goryokaku to guard the essential port city of Hakodate. Constructed in a classic star formation, it never was involved in a war against a foreign aggressor, but it did see action in a civil war, where the shogunate mounted a last-gasp offensive against the Meiji government by attempting to take this fortress.

By the early 20th century, it became obsolete from a military perspective, so it was converted into a public park. Come by if you here in early May, as it is usually at this time when the cherry trees planted here burst out into full blossom.

As mentioned previously, Hakodate has been open to the West since 1854. Soon after considerable numbers of foreigners began to move to the city, they took a liking to the district of Motomachi. In little time, they began to erect structures that reminded them of home, injecting some foreign flavour into this distinctly Japanese city.

As you stroll its streets, you’ll find signs of British, Chinese, and Russian residency, among other countries. As you climb higher up the hill in this neighbourhood, be sure to look back and take in the view of Hakodate Bay, as it is particularly majestic on a clear day.

While you are still in Motomachi, fans of architecture will want to make room in their schedule to stop by the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward. A prime example of the European influence that swept this city soon after its opening to foreign traders and dignitaries, it has long been a residence of choice for members of the Japanese Royal Family whenever they visit the city of Hakodate.

Check with tourism officials to see if musical events are on the schedule during your visit, as the main hall of this building often hosts concerts by artists from across the country and around the world. Also, the balcony offers excellent views of the foreign quarter of Hakodate, so make sure you get a few shots from it as you wander around this grand building.

Finally, make sure to take a second to visit Hakodate Orthodox Church before leaving Motomachi to visit other parts of Hakodate. Built in 1859, it was constructed in tandem with the establishment of the Russian Consulate, as Orthodox Christianity was the state religion at the time.

Designed in the Russian Byzantine style (aka the typical onion bulb domes many associate with Russian churches), it is known by locals as the ‘ding dong temple’ due to the clarity of the church bells which ring out to announce the imminent start of mass.

Hakodate city wall in winter covered in snow in Japan

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Hakodate, Japan

Those wanting to witness authentic street life in this city will want to set their alarms early so they can get up in time to check out the Hakodate Morning Market. Opening its doors at 5 am (6 am in winter), you’ll get to see a dizzying array of seafood hauled in fresh from the ocean, along with fresh produce in season.

Nearby, there are numerous restaurants that draw on this reliable supply of excellent seafood to produce excellent cuisine – stop by after your market tour to have one of the better breakfasts you have had in your life.

Learn more about the indigenous tribes which called Hokkaido home before the arrival of the Japanese at the Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples. While its collection is a bit on the small side, its low admission fee and the opportunity to learn about this resourceful First Nations tribe will add an element of enrichment to your Hokkaido holiday that you may not have expected.

As mentioned above, the opening of Hakodate to foreigners opened the door to different religions as well. The enduring legacy of this decision can be seen in the present day by visiting the Trappistine Monastery.

A peaceful compound featuring buildings built in the Gothic and Romanesque styles, you will feel like you have walked through a portal straight to Europe. Indeed, the only reminder you are in Japan will be the Japanese nuns you will get to meet during your visit. Be sure to try their ice cream, as it gets rave reviews from local and travellers alike!

Before moving on to your next destination in Hokkaido, head up to the top of Mount Hakodate via tram. The views of the city below are spectacular, especially at night. Those feeling a bit peckish will have a cafeteria-style restaurant at their disposal – while it is not five-star fare, it will pair perfectly with your time here.

source: Tokyo Foodie Sarah on YouTube

Top 33 Things To Do in Hakodate, Japan For Visitors

Here are 33 top things to do in Hakodate, Japan:

  1. Visit the Goryokaku Fort: Explore the star-shaped fort, built in the 19th century, and take a stroll through its beautiful park. In spring, the cherry blossoms create a stunning sight.
  2. Take in the panoramic view from Mount Hakodate: Ride the ropeway or drive up to the summit for breathtaking views of the city, bay, and surrounding mountains. The night views are particularly famous and offer a magical experience.
  3. Explore the historic district of Motomachi: Wander through the streets lined with Western-style buildings dating back to the Meiji era. Visit the old churches, consulates, and former foreign residences, which reflect Hakodate’s international past.
  4. Wander through the Hakodate Morning Market: Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere of one of Hokkaido’s largest morning markets. Sample fresh seafood, local produce, and other regional specialties.
  5. Visit the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse: Explore this waterfront area with its restored red brick warehouses. Browse through unique shops, dine in waterfront restaurants, and enjoy live performances and events.
  6. Stroll along the Bay Area: Take a leisurely walk along the picturesque waterfront, lined with shops, cafes, and stunning views of Hakodate Bay. Enjoy the refreshing sea breeze and relax in one of the parks along the way.
  7. Discover the history of the Hakodate City Museum of Northern Peoples: Learn about the indigenous Ainu people, their culture, and the history of Hokkaido through interactive exhibits and displays.
  8. Visit the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward: Step into the beautifully preserved European-style building, which now houses a museum showcasing Hakodate’s history and cultural heritage.
  9. Take a boat cruise around Hakodate Bay: Experience the city from a different perspective by taking a sightseeing boat cruise. Enjoy the views of the city skyline, mountains, and the vast sea.
  10. Explore the Hakodate City Museum: Delve deeper into Hakodate’s history, art, and culture at this museum, which offers a comprehensive collection of artifacts and artworks.
  11. Wander through the Fort Goryokaku Park: Discover the remains of the star-shaped fortress and enjoy the park’s serene atmosphere. Visit during cherry blossom season for a truly picturesque experience.
  12. Enjoy panoramic views from the Goryokaku Tower: Ascend the observation deck of the Goryokaku Tower for an elevated view of the fort, surrounding park, and the city skyline. The tower provides a fantastic vantage point for photography.
  13. Visit the Hakodate Orthodox Church: Admire the unique architecture of this Russian-inspired church, built in 1916. The interior features beautiful icons and intricate artwork.
  14. Take a dip in the Yunokawa Onsen: Experience the healing properties of hot springs at one of Hakodate’s renowned onsen resorts. Relax in the therapeutic waters and indulge in traditional Japanese hospitality.
  15. Explore the Tropical Botanical Garden Hakodate: Immerse yourself in the lush greenery and vibrant colors of this botanical garden. Marvel at the wide variety of tropical plants, flowers, and exotic species.
  16. Visit the Hachiman-zaka Slope: Take a leisurely stroll up this historic slope, known for its charming atmosphere and preserved buildings. The cobblestone streets and old-fashioned lampposts add to its nostalgic charm.
  17. Sample Hakodate’s local cuisine: Indulge in a culinary adventure by trying local delicacies like kaisendon (a bowl of fresh seafood over rice), ikameshi (squid stuffed with rice), and Hokkaido’s famous dairy products.
  18. Experience Hakodate’s nightlife at the Donburi Yokocho: Dive into the vibrant atmosphere of this lively food alley, where you can savor a variety of local street food and enjoy the energetic ambiance.
  19. Discover the history of Hakodate’s Trappist Monastery: Visit the Trappist Monastery, founded in 1898, and learn about the lives of the monks who have been producing beer and cheese using traditional methods.
  20. Explore the Hakodate Museum of Art: Admire an impressive collection of modern and contemporary artworks by Japanese and international artists. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions as well, providing a dynamic art experience.
  21. Take a scenic drive along the Hokkaido coastline: Rent a car and enjoy a picturesque drive along the coast, with stunning views of the Sea of Japan and the rugged shoreline of Hokkaido.
  22. Visit the Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden: Step into a tropical oasis filled with lush vegetation, exotic flowers, and a wide array of tropical plants. Take a leisurely walk through the garden’s trails and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.
  23. Discover the history of the Kanemori Soko Warehouses: Explore the historic warehouses along the waterfront, now repurposed as shopping and dining complexes. Learn about their role in Hakodate’s trading history and enjoy the unique atmosphere.
  24. Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony: Immerse yourself in Japanese culture by participating in a traditional tea ceremony. Experience the grace and tranquility of this ancient ritual and savor the delicate flavors of matcha tea.
  25. Explore the Hakodate City Museum of Literature: Discover the works of famous writers associated with Hakodate and learn about the city’s literary heritage. The museum features exhibits and artifacts related to local literary figures.
  26. Take a scenic hike in the Onuma Quasi-National Park: Lace up your hiking boots and explore the picturesque trails of this national park. Admire the serene lakes, volcanic mountains, and diverse flora and fauna along the way.
  27. Visit the Hakodate Velodrome: Experience the excitement of keirin racing, a popular Japanese cycling sport, at the Hakodate Velodrome. Watch the cyclists speed around the track and feel the electrifying energy of the races.
  28. Take a leisurely bike ride around Lake Onuma: Rent a bicycle and pedal your way around the tranquil Lake Onuma. Enjoy the fresh air, beautiful scenery, and the opportunity to explore the lakeside paths at your own pace.
  29. Discover the history of the Hakodate City Museum of Science: Engage in interactive exhibits and displays that showcase the wonders of science and technology. Learn about Hokkaido’s natural environment, space exploration, and more.
  30. Explore the Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples: Gain insights into the unique cultures of the indigenous peoples of northern Japan and other northern regions of the world. The museum houses a diverse collection of artifacts and exhibits.
  31. Take a scenic boat tour to Tsugaru Strait: Embark on a boat excursion to Tsugaru Strait, where you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscapes and the chance to spot marine wildlife such as dolphins and seabirds.
  32. Attend a traditional Japanese festival: Check the local calendar and participate in a traditional festival such as Hakodate Port Festival or the Hakodate Minato Matsuri. Experience the lively atmosphere, traditional performances, and fireworks displays.
  33. Relax in one of Hakodate’s parks and gardens: Unwind in tranquil green spaces like Hakodate Park, where you can enjoy cherry blossoms in spring, or Tachimachi Cape Park, offering panoramic views of the city and the sea.

With these 33 activities and attractions, your time in Hakodate will be filled with enriching experiences, cultural

exploration, and unforgettable memories. From historical landmarks to natural wonders, culinary delights to cultural experiences, Hakodate offers a diverse range of activities to suit every traveler’s interests.

Remember to plan your itinerary based on your preferences and allocate enough time to fully immerse yourself in each experience. Whether you’re admiring the panoramic views from Mount Hakodate, indulging in local cuisine at the Hakodate Morning Market, or exploring the historic district of Motomachi, Hakodate is sure to captivate you with its unique blend of history, nature, and culture.

Don’t forget to check the opening hours and any necessary reservations for specific attractions or events. With proper planning and an open mind, your visit to Hakodate is bound to be a memorable and enriching journey.

Embrace the city’s captivating charm, soak up its rich history, and engage with the warm and welcoming local community. Hakodate awaits you with its fascinating blend of tradition and modernity, promising a truly remarkable travel experience.

source: Hokkaido Love ! on YouTube

What To Eat and Drink in Hakodate, Japan

When it comes to culinary delights, Hakodate is a haven for food lovers. With its coastal location and rich agricultural resources, the city offers a diverse array of fresh seafood, local specialties, and unique flavors. Here are some must-try dishes and beverages to savor during your visit to Hakodate:

  1. Hakodate Ramen: Indulge in a bowl of Hakodate-style ramen, known for its rich, savory broth and thin, curly noodles. The broth is typically made with a combination of seafood and pork, creating a unique and flavorful taste.
  2. Kaisendon (Seafood Rice Bowl): Hakodate’s proximity to the sea makes it a prime destination for fresh seafood. Enjoy a kaisendon, a bowl of rice topped with a variety of sashimi-grade seafood such as salmon, tuna, scallops, and sea urchin. It’s a true seafood lover’s delight.
  3. Ikameshi: This Hakodate specialty features squid stuffed with seasoned rice and simmered to perfection. The combination of tender squid and flavorful rice makes for a unique and delicious dish.
  4. Jingisukan: Experience a Hokkaido-style barbecue with Jingisukan, a grilled lamb dish. Thinly sliced lamb is seasoned and cooked on a special dome-shaped grill, resulting in tender and flavorful meat.
  5. Hokkaido Dairy Products: Hokkaido is famous for its dairy products, and Hakodate is no exception. Enjoy creamy soft-serve ice cream, rich milk, and a variety of cheese products, all made with the finest Hokkaido milk.
  6. Uni (Sea Urchin): For seafood enthusiasts, Hakodate is a paradise for fresh uni. Savor the delicate, buttery taste of sea urchin, which is often served on sushi or enjoyed as sashimi.
  7. Hokkaido Soba: Sample the local variation of soba noodles, made with buckwheat flour sourced from Hokkaido. Enjoy the unique nutty flavor and a satisfying texture as you slurp the noodles.
  8. Genghis Khan: Embrace the local culinary culture with Genghis Khan, a grilled mutton dish named after the famous Mongolian conqueror. Enjoy the tender and juicy meat, seasoned with a variety of sauces and spices.
  9. Hakodate Cheese Tart: Treat your taste buds to a Hakodate specialty, the cheese tart. These delightful pastries feature a flaky crust filled with a creamy cheese filling, offering a perfect balance of sweet and savory.
  10. Sake: Discover the world of Japanese sake by sampling the local varieties produced in Hokkaido. Visit a sake brewery or enjoy a tasting at a sake bar to experience the rich flavors and craftsmanship of this traditional Japanese beverage.
  11. Shio Ramen: If you prefer a lighter ramen option, try Hakodate’s shio ramen, which features a clear, salty broth made from seafood and chicken. The delicate flavors allow the natural taste of the ingredients to shine.
  12. Ishikari Nabe: A traditional hot pot dish originating from Hokkaido, Ishikari Nabe features salmon, vegetables, and tofu cooked in a miso-based broth. It’s a comforting and satisfying meal, perfect for colder days.
  13. Yubari Melon: Indulge in the renowned Yubari melon, a sweet and juicy cantaloupe-like fruit cultivated in Hokkaido. Known for its exceptional quality, Yubari melon is a true delicacy.

While exploring Hakodate, be sure to visit local restaurants, izakayas (Japanese pubs), and street food stalls to fully experience the city’s culinary scene. Hakodate’s rich gastronomic offerings are a testament to Hokkaido’s bountiful natural resources and culinary traditions. From savoring Hakodate ramen and kaisendon to indulging in ikameshi and Jingisukan, your taste buds are in for a treat. Don’t forget to pair your meals with local sake or explore the diverse range of Hokkaido dairy products.

As you embark on your culinary journey through Hakodate, be sure to venture beyond the popular tourist areas and explore local eateries favored by the residents. Hakodate’s vibrant food scene will not disappoint, offering a delightful blend of traditional flavors, fresh ingredients, and innovative culinary creations.

Whether you’re a seafood lover, a ramen aficionado, or a dessert enthusiast, Hakodate has something to satisfy every palate. Embrace the local cuisine, engage with the warm and welcoming locals, and create unforgettable food memories during your visit to this charming city.

source: TabiEats on YouTube

Top Restaurants In Hakodate, Japan

Hakodate is renowned for its culinary scene, offering a plethora of top-notch restaurants that showcase the city’s diverse flavors and culinary traditions. Here are some of the top restaurants in Hakodate that you should consider trying during your visit:

  1. Hakodate Asariya: Known for its delectable seafood dishes, including clam-based ramen and donburi bowls, Hakodate Asariya is a popular choice for locals and tourists alike.
  2. Lucky Pierrot: A local fast-food chain that has gained cult status in Hakodate, Lucky Pierrot offers a variety of unique and tasty burgers, including their signature “Chinese Chicken Burger.”
  3. Wakadori Jidoriya: This izakaya-style restaurant specializes in yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) made from locally sourced ingredients. The cozy atmosphere and delicious skewers make it a favorite among locals.
  4. Ebiya: Located in the Hakodate Morning Market, Ebiya is famous for its mouthwatering seafood bowls and fresh seafood dishes. Indulge in a bowl of kaisendon (seafood rice bowl) while enjoying the vibrant market atmosphere.
  5. Yunokawa Kaisen Ichiba: Situated in the Yunokawa Onsen area, this seafood market and restaurant offers a wide selection of fresh seafood. Choose from a variety of dishes such as sashimi, grilled fish, and seafood hot pot.
  6. Ajisai Sushi: For sushi lovers, Ajisai Sushi is a must-visit. Enjoy a wide range of sushi and sashimi prepared with the freshest seafood sourced from the local markets.
  7. Bar Le Refuge: This cozy French-style bistro offers a fusion of French and Japanese cuisine. Sample their innovative dishes and pair them with a selection of fine wines.
  8. Masazushi: Known for its traditional Edomae-style sushi, Masazushi is a highly regarded sushi restaurant in Hakodate. Experience the art of sushi-making and savor the exquisite flavors of their carefully crafted sushi.
  9. Kanimeshi Yosakoi: Specializing in Kanimeshi, a dish featuring snow crab served on a bed of rice, this restaurant is a paradise for crab lovers. Indulge in the sweet and succulent flavors of this local delicacy.
  10. Hakodate Daruma: Offering a variety of Hokkaido-inspired dishes, Hakodate Daruma is a popular restaurant that showcases the region’s unique ingredients and flavors. Try their local specialties like Jingisukan (grilled lamb) and Hokkaido seafood dishes.
  11. Shikisai: Experience traditional kaiseki cuisine at Shikisai, where you can savor a multi-course meal featuring seasonal ingredients meticulously prepared and beautifully presented.
  12. Ichinisan: A traditional Japanese restaurant with a warm and inviting atmosphere, Ichinisan specializes in sukiyaki, a hot pot dish with thinly sliced beef and vegetables cooked in a flavorful broth.
  13. Kikuyo Shokudo: This local eatery is known for its hearty Hokkaido-style dishes, including jingisukan, ramen, and teishoku (set meals). Enjoy a satisfying meal at affordable prices.
  14. Kantaro: Famous for its Jingisukan, Kantaro offers a wide variety of grilled meat options, including lamb, beef, and seafood. The restaurant’s lively atmosphere adds to the dining experience.
  15. Hakodate Ryotei Matsuo Gawa: Indulge in exquisite Japanese haute cuisine, including seasonal delicacies and meticulously crafted dishes. The elegant setting and attentive service make it a memorable dining experience.

Remember to make reservations in advance, especially for popular restaurants, as they can get busy, especially during peak travel seasons.

source: japan-guide.com on YouTube

Tours For Visitors To Hakodate, Japan

Hakodate, Japan, offers a range of tours and activities that allow visitors to explore the city’s rich history, stunning landscapes, and unique cultural experiences. Here are some recommended tours for visitors to Hakodate:

  1. Hakodate Morning Market Tour: Join a guided tour of the Hakodate Morning Market, where you can discover an abundance of fresh seafood, local produce, and unique culinary delights. Learn about the market’s history and enjoy tastings of Hokkaido’s famous seafood.
  2. Mount Hakodate Night View Tour: Embark on a tour to Mount Hakodate to witness the spectacular night views for which the city is famous. Enjoy a scenic drive or take the ropeway to the summit, where you can marvel at the panoramic vistas of the city lights below.
  3. Historical Hakodate Walking Tour: Explore the historic district of Motomachi with a knowledgeable guide who will share stories and insights into the area’s Western-influenced architecture and cultural heritage. Visit landmarks such as the Old Public Hall and the Hakodate Orthodox Church.
  4. Goryokaku Park and Hakodate City Tour: Discover the history and beauty of Goryokaku Park, a star-shaped fort and one of Hakodate’s iconic landmarks. Visit the Goryokaku Tower for a panoramic view, explore the surrounding park, and learn about the fort’s historical significance.
  5. Hakodate Bay Cruise: Embark on a leisurely boat cruise around Hakodate Bay, where you can enjoy stunning views of the city skyline, the surrounding mountains, and the picturesque bay itself. Learn about the area’s maritime history and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze.
  6. Hakodate City Tram Tour: Hop aboard the Hakodate City Tram for a nostalgic journey through the city’s streets. Take in the sights and sounds as you ride along the tram lines, passing by landmarks and local neighborhoods.
  7. Onuma Quasi-National Park Tour: Join a guided tour to the picturesque Onuma Quasi-National Park, located just outside of Hakodate. Explore the park’s scenic trails, take a boat ride on the tranquil lakes, and enjoy the natural beauty of the volcanic landscape.
  8. Hakodate Sake Brewery Tour: Immerse yourself in the world of sake by visiting local breweries in Hakodate. Learn about the traditional sake-making process, sample a variety of sake flavors, and gain insights into this beloved Japanese beverage.
  9. Hakodate Ropeway and Yunokawa Onsen Tour: Experience a combination of natural beauty and relaxation on a tour that includes a ride on the Hakodate Ropeway to Mount Hakodate for stunning views, followed by a visit to Yunokawa Onsen, a hot spring resort known for its therapeutic waters.
  10. Hakodate Rickshaw Tour: Embark on a charming rickshaw ride through the streets of Hakodate, guided by a knowledgeable local runner who will share interesting facts and stories about the city’s history and culture.

These tours offer a range of experiences, from historical and cultural explorations to scenic adventures and culinary delights. Whether you’re interested in the city’s heritage, natural landscapes, or local traditions, there’s a tour in Hakodate to suit every interest.

source: Video Street View Japan on YouTube

Hakodate Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

When it comes to accommodations, Hakodate offers a variety of options to suit different preferences and budgets. From luxurious hotels to cozy guesthouses, here is a guide to help you find the perfect place to stay in Hakodate:

  1. Luxury Hotels: Hakodate boasts several upscale hotels that provide top-notch amenities and services. These hotels often feature spacious rooms, elegant décor, on-site restaurants, spa facilities, and stunning views of the city or the sea.
  2. Mid-Range Hotels: There are numerous mid-range hotels in Hakodate that offer comfortable rooms and a range of amenities at more affordable prices. These hotels are often conveniently located near major attractions, making it easy to explore the city.
  3. Ryokans (Traditional Inns): For a unique cultural experience, consider staying in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Ryokans provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in Japanese hospitality and customs, with tatami-matted rooms, futon bedding, and communal baths.
  4. Minshukus (Guesthouses): If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, consider staying in a minshuku, a Japanese-style guesthouse. Minshukus offer comfortable rooms with shared facilities, giving you a chance to interact with fellow travelers and experience local hospitality.
  5. Business Hotels: Hakodate has a range of business hotels that cater to business travelers and offer convenient amenities such as workspaces, Wi-Fi, and meeting rooms. These hotels are often centrally located, making them a practical choice for both business and leisure travelers.
  6. Western-Style Hotels: Alongside traditional Japanese accommodations, Hakodate also has Western-style hotels that cater to international travelers. These hotels provide a familiar and comfortable stay, with rooms designed in a more Western fashion.
  7. Airbnb and Vacation Rentals: If you prefer a more independent and home-like experience, consider booking an Airbnb or vacation rental in Hakodate. This option allows you to have your own space and flexibility, with a variety of apartments and houses available throughout the city.

When choosing your accommodation, consider factors such as location, proximity to public transportation, amenities, and the type of experience you want to have. It’s also advisable to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred choice.

Whether you’re seeking luxury, traditional charm, or a budget-friendly stay, Hakodate offers a range of accommodations to cater to every traveler’s needs.

source: The Wandering Wife on YouTube

Day Trips From Hakodate, Japan

Hakodate, Japan, is a great base for exploring the surrounding area and taking day trips to nearby attractions. Here are some recommended day trips you can take from Hakodate:

  1. Onuma Quasi-National Park: Located just outside of Hakodate, Onuma Quasi-National Park is a picturesque destination known for its stunning lakes and volcanic landscapes. Take a boat ride on Lake Onuma, hike the scenic trails, and enjoy the beautiful natural scenery.
  2. Matsumae Castle: Travel to Matsumae, a town about 2 hours from Hakodate, and visit Matsumae Castle. This historic castle, built in the Edo period, is surrounded by cherry blossom trees and is particularly beautiful during sakura season.
  3. Mount Esan: Take a trip to Mount Esan, an active volcano located approximately 40 kilometers southeast of Hakodate. You can hike to the summit and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and the Pacific Ocean.
  4. Esashi Town: Visit Esashi, a charming coastal town known for its well-preserved historical district. Explore the traditional buildings, visit the Esashi Oiwake Museum to learn about the town’s folk songs, and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.
  5. Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival: If you’re visiting Hakodate during the cherry blossom season (late April to early May), consider taking a day trip to Matsumae to witness the Matsumae Cherry Blossom Festival. The town’s parks and castle grounds are adorned with beautiful cherry blossoms, creating a picturesque setting.
  6. Otaru: Travel to the nearby city of Otaru, known for its romantic canal area and preserved historical buildings. Explore the charming streets lined with shops, visit the Otaru Music Box Museum, and enjoy fresh seafood from the local markets.
  7. Lake Toya: Take a scenic drive or a bus tour to Lake Toya, a volcanic caldera lake located about 90 kilometers southwest of Hakodate. Enjoy the stunning views of the lake, visit the Usuzan Ropeway for panoramic vistas, and relax in the lakeside hot springs.
  8. Niseko: If you’re a fan of winter sports, consider a day trip to Niseko, a renowned ski resort about 2 hours from Hakodate. Enjoy skiing or snowboarding on the powdery slopes and indulge in après-ski activities.
  9. Goryokaku Tower: Explore the city of Hakodate further by visiting Goryokaku Tower, located within the Goryokaku Park area. Climb to the top of the tower for a bird’s-eye view of the star-shaped Goryokaku Fort, which is especially beautiful during cherry blossom season and autumn foliage.
  10. Lake Shikotsu: Travel to Lake Shikotsu, a volcanic caldera lake located about 2.5 hours from Hakodate. Take a leisurely walk around the lake, relax in the hot springs, and enjoy the serene natural surroundings.

These day trips from Hakodate offer diverse experiences, from exploring nature to immersing yourself in history and culture. Consider your interests and the time available to plan your day trips accordingly, and be sure to check transportation options and schedules in advance.

source: ONLY in JAPAN * GO on YouTube

Hakodate Transportation Guide

Hakodate has a well-developed transportation system that makes it easy to navigate the city and explore the surrounding areas. Here is a transportation guide to help you get around Hakodate:

  1. Hakodate Airport: Hakodate Airport is the main gateway to the city. It offers domestic flights from major cities in Japan, making it convenient for travelers arriving by air. From the airport, you can take a taxi, limousine bus, or local bus to reach your accommodation or other destinations in the city.
  2. Trains: Hakodate is well-connected to other cities in Japan by train. The Hakodate Shinkansen (bullet train) provides high-speed rail service, allowing easy access to Hakodate from major cities such as Tokyo and Sapporo. The Hakodate Station is centrally located and serves as a transportation hub for local trains and buses.
  3. Tram (Streetcar): Hakodate has a convenient tram network that operates within the city. The trams are an affordable and efficient way to get around and explore various attractions. The three tram lines cover major areas of the city, including Motomachi, Yunokawa Onsen, and Goryokaku Park.
  4. Buses: Hakodate has a comprehensive bus system that serves both within the city and the surrounding areas. Local buses are an excellent option for reaching specific destinations that are not covered by the tram network. Bus schedules and routes are readily available at bus stops and tourist information centers.
  5. Taxis: Taxis are widely available in Hakodate and can be hailed from designated taxi stands or called by phone. Taxis are a convenient mode of transportation for reaching specific destinations or for more personalized travel experiences. Be sure to check the fare rates and have your destination address written down in Japanese for the driver.
  6. Rental Cars: If you prefer more flexibility and independence, renting a car is an option for exploring Hakodate and its surrounding areas. Hakodate has several car rental companies that offer a range of vehicle options. However, keep in mind that driving in Japan requires an international driving permit and knowledge of local traffic rules.
  7. Bicycles: Hakodate is a bicycle-friendly city, with designated cycling paths and rental services available. Renting a bicycle is a great way to explore the city at a leisurely pace, especially around the scenic areas and waterfront.
  8. Walking: Many of Hakodate’s attractions are within walking distance of each other, especially in the city center. Walking is a pleasant way to discover the city’s charm and immerse yourself in its unique atmosphere. Hakodate’s streets are well-maintained and pedestrian-friendly.

When planning your transportation in Hakodate, consider the distance between your accommodation and the attractions you wish to visit. Hakodate’s compact size makes it convenient to explore on foot, but public transportation options are also readily available for longer distances or when venturing to areas outside the city center.

source: Anna Dulaar on YouTube

Hakodate 1 Day Travel Itinerary

If you have just one day to explore Hakodate, here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your time:


  • Start your day at the lively Hakodate Morning Market, filled with stalls offering a variety of fresh seafood. Sample local delicacies like seafood rice bowls (kaisendon) or grilled seafood skewers.
  • After breakfast, take the Mount Hakodate Ropeway to the summit and marvel at the panoramic views of the city and coastline. Sunrise or sunset are especially breathtaking times to visit.
  • Descend from Mount Hakodate and wander through the historic Motomachi district. Admire the well-preserved Western-style buildings, including the Old Public Hall and the Hakodate Orthodox Church.
  • Stroll along the scenic Hakodate Bay area, where red-brick warehouses and picturesque waterfront views await. Explore the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse complex, housing charming shops, cafes, and galleries.


  • Enjoy a delectable lunch at one of the local eateries in the Bay area, savoring Hakodate’s diverse culinary offerings. Don’t miss out on regional specialties such as squid ink ramen or Hokkaido seafood dishes.
  • Head to Goryokaku Park, a star-shaped fort and an emblem of Hakodate. Explore the park’s beautiful grounds, visit the Goryokaku Tower for a panoramic view, and delve into its historical significance at the Goryokaku History Museum.
  • If time permits, visit the Hakodate City Tropical Botanical Garden, where you can immerse yourself in a lush oasis of exotic plants and tranquil surroundings.


  • Return to the enchanting Hakodate Bay area in the evening. Take a leisurely walk along the illuminated waterfront, soaking in the romantic atmosphere created by the city lights.
  • Indulge in a delightful dinner at one of the many dining establishments in the Bay area, offering an array of culinary choices, from fresh seafood to Japanese and international cuisines.
  • Conclude your day with a soothing onsen experience in Hakodate. Yunokawa Onsen is a popular choice, providing various hot spring facilities where you can relax and rejuvenate.

Remember to plan your day accordingly, considering the opening hours of attractions and dining establishments. Hakodate is a compact city, and most of the suggested places are within walking distance. However, you can also utilize convenient transportation options such as trams or taxis if desired. Enjoy your day exploring the charming city of Hakodate!

source: Nick and Helmi on YouTube

Hakodate 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary

Hakodate offers a wealth of attractions and experiences to enjoy over a 3-4 day visit. Here’s a suggested itinerary to help you make the most of your time in Hakodate:

Day 1:

  • Morning: Start your day at the Hakodate Morning Market, where you can immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and indulge in fresh seafood delicacies for breakfast.
  • After breakfast, take the Mount Hakodate Ropeway to the summit and admire the breathtaking panoramic views of the city and coastline.
  • Spend the afternoon exploring the historic Motomachi district, strolling along its charming streets lined with Western-style buildings. Visit landmarks like the Old Public Hall and the Hakodate Orthodox Church.
  • In the evening, head to the Bay area and enjoy a leisurely walk along the waterfront, soaking in the illuminated cityscape.

Day 2:

  • Morning: Visit Goryokaku Park, a star-shaped fort known for its beautiful cherry blossoms in spring and colorful foliage in autumn. Explore the park’s grounds and enjoy a peaceful stroll around the Goryokaku Tower.
  • Afternoon: Discover the history and maritime heritage of Hakodate at the Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples or the Hakodate City Museum of Northern History. Both museums offer fascinating insights into the region’s cultural heritage.
  • In the evening, explore the vibrant Bay area and sample local cuisine at one of the many restaurants, enjoying the fresh seafood and regional specialties.

Day 3:

  • Morning: Take a day trip to the nearby Onuma Quasi-National Park, known for its scenic lakes and volcanic landscapes. Rent a bicycle and explore the park’s picturesque trails, or take a boat ride on Lake Onuma for a unique perspective.
  • Afternoon: Visit the Hakodate City Tropical Botanical Garden, where you can escape into a tropical paradise and admire a diverse collection of exotic plants and flowers.
  • In the evening, relax and unwind in one of Hakodate’s renowned onsen (hot springs), such as Yunokawa Onsen or Nishiki Onsen, and experience the rejuvenating effects of these natural thermal baths.

Day 4:

  • Morning: Explore the Hakodate Bay area further by visiting the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse complex. Discover local shops, boutiques, and galleries, and enjoy a cup of coffee while overlooking the bay.
  • Afternoon: Take a scenic drive or bus ride to the charming coastal town of Esashi, known for its preserved historical district. Stroll through the streets lined with traditional buildings and visit attractions like the Esashi Oiwake Museum.
  • Return to Hakodate in the evening and savor a farewell dinner at one of the city’s notable restaurants, trying Hokkaido specialties like Jingisukan (grilled lamb) or Hakodate-style sushi.

Remember to check the opening hours and schedules of attractions, and consider using public transportation, such as trams or buses, to get around Hakodate. This itinerary allows you to experience the city’s historical landmarks, natural beauty, culinary delights, and cultural heritage, ensuring a memorable visit to Hakodate.

source: Simply Sango on YouTube

Hakodate 1 Week Travel Itinerary

If you have a week to explore Hakodate, Japan, you can dive deeper into the city’s attractions and also venture beyond to discover the surrounding areas. Here’s a suggested 1-week itinerary for Hakodate:

Day 1:

  • Start your trip by exploring the city center. Visit the Hakodate Morning Market for a taste of fresh seafood, then take the Mount Hakodate Ropeway to enjoy panoramic views of the city and coastline. Spend the rest of the day exploring the historic Motomachi district and the Bay area.

Day 2:

  • Take a day trip to Onuma Quasi-National Park, where you can rent a bicycle and explore the scenic lakes and volcanic landscapes. Enjoy a boat ride on Lake Onuma and discover the park’s hiking trails.

Day 3:

  • Visit Goryokaku Park, a star-shaped fort famous for its cherry blossoms in spring. Explore the park and climb the Goryokaku Tower for panoramic views. Learn about the park’s history at the Goryokaku History Museum.

Day 4:

  • Explore the Hakodate Bay area in more detail. Visit the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse complex, where you can shop, dine, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. Take a relaxing walk along the waterfront and appreciate the city lights at night.

Day 5:

  • Take a day trip to the nearby city of Otaru, known for its picturesque canal area and preserved historical buildings. Explore the charming streets, visit the Otaru Music Box Museum, and sample local delicacies.

Day 6:

  • Embark on a day trip to Lake Toya, a volcanic caldera lake surrounded by stunning scenery. Visit the Usuzan Ropeway for panoramic views, relax in hot springs, and enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking or boating.

Day 7:

  • Visit the Hakodate City Tropical Botanical Garden and immerse yourself in the lush greenery and exotic plants. Take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the tranquil ambiance.
  • In the evening, unwind in one of Hakodate’s renowned onsen (hot springs) like Yunokawa Onsen or Nishiki Onsen, and experience traditional Japanese relaxation.

During your week in Hakodate, make sure to try local cuisine, including fresh seafood, Hokkaido specialties, and regional delicacies. Don’t forget to explore the city’s vibrant dining scene and sample Hakodate-style sushi.

Remember to check the opening hours and schedules of attractions, and consider using public transportation, such as trams or buses, for convenience. This itinerary allows you to delve into the city’s cultural heritage, natural beauty, and nearby destinations, creating a memorable week-long experience in Hakodate.

Hakodate colourful warehouse with mountain and harbour views in Japan

Is Hakodate A Safe City To Visit?

Hakodate is generally considered a safe city for visitors. Japan, as a whole, has a reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world, and Hakodate is no exception. The city has a low crime rate, and you can feel relatively secure during your visit. However, it’s always essential to exercise caution and follow standard safety practices while traveling, regardless of the destination. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Hakodate:

  1. Keep an eye on your belongings: Like in any other city, it’s advisable to be mindful of your belongings and keep them secure. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas, and take necessary precautions to prevent theft or loss of personal items.
  2. Follow traffic rules: When crossing roads or walking along the streets, obey traffic signals and use designated pedestrian crossings. Japanese drivers are generally respectful and law-abiding, but it’s essential to remain vigilant and prioritize your safety.
  3. Take care of your personal belongings: Japan has a culture of honesty, and lost items are often returned to their owners. However, it’s still important to take care of your belongings and not leave them unattended in public areas. Keep your valuables secure and be cautious of your personal space, particularly in crowded places or public transportation.
  4. Be aware of natural hazards: Hakodate is located in a seismically active region of Japan. Familiarize yourself with earthquake safety guidelines and follow instructions provided by local authorities if an earthquake occurs during your visit. Additionally, pay attention to weather conditions and heed any warnings or advisories related to typhoons or other natural phenomena.
  5. Use licensed transportation services: When using taxis or other modes of transportation, ensure that you choose licensed and reputable services. Licensed taxis are typically safe and reliable options for getting around the city.
  6. Stay informed: Stay updated on local news, advisories, and any travel alerts issued by your embassy or consulate. Familiarize yourself with emergency contact numbers, including those for the police, ambulance, and fire department.

While Hakodate is generally safe, it’s always wise to practice common sense, be aware of your surroundings, and take precautions to ensure your personal safety. By doing so, you can fully enjoy your visit to this beautiful city without major concerns.

Hakodate on a map of Japan

When Is The Best Time To Visit Hakodate?

The best time to visit Hakodate depends on your preferences and the experiences you seek. Here’s a breakdown of the different seasons to help you decide:

Spring (April to May): Spring in Hakodate brings pleasant weather, cherry blossoms, and a sense of renewal. The cherry blossoms typically bloom in late April, creating a beautiful pink spectacle in parks and along streets. This is a popular time for visitors, so expect larger crowds and higher accommodation rates. If you enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of hanami (cherry blossom viewing) and mild temperatures, spring is an excellent time to visit Hakodate.

Summer (June to August): Summers in Hakodate are warm and humid, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F). The city comes alive with festivals, including the Hakodate Port Festival in July and the Hakodate Minato Festival in August. Summer is a great time to explore Hakodate’s outdoor attractions, such as the beautiful coastline and nearby nature parks. However, be prepared for higher tourist numbers and book accommodations well in advance.

Autumn (September to November): Autumn in Hakodate is characterized by mild temperatures, cooler evenings, and stunning foliage. The changing colors of the leaves in parks and gardens create a picturesque backdrop. The autumn foliage typically peaks in late October to early November, attracting visitors seeking natural beauty and tranquil surroundings. It’s a great time for hiking, exploring parks, and enjoying the seasonal cuisine of Hokkaido.

Winter (December to February): Winter in Hakodate brings cold temperatures, occasional snowfall, and a unique charm. The city is known for its winter illuminations, including the famous Hakodate Christmas Fantasy. The cold weather also makes it an ideal time to indulge in hot springs (onsen) and enjoy winter sports in nearby ski resorts. Winter in Hakodate offers a quieter and more serene atmosphere compared to other seasons.


  • The weather in Hakodate can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.
  • Keep in mind that cherry blossom season and autumn foliage season are popular and can attract larger crowds, so plan and book in advance if you prefer a quieter experience.
  • If you’re interested in seafood, summer and winter are excellent seasons for enjoying fresh and seasonal catches in Hakodate.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Hakodate depends on your personal preferences and interests. Each season offers its own unique experiences and attractions, so choose the time that aligns with the activities and atmosphere you desire.

source: Miel Citron on YouTube

Top Festivals and Events in Hakodate

Hakodate is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. As a result, it hosts a variety of festivals and events that capture the essence of its heritage and natural wonders. Let’s explore some of the top festivals and events you can enjoy in Hakodate.

  1. Hakodate Goryokaku Festival:
    • When: Early May
    • Where: Goryokaku Park
    • Details: Celebrating the historical event of the last battle of the Boshin War in 1869, the Hakodate Goryokaku Festival showcases a reenactment of the war, complete with participants in period costumes. The Goryokaku fort turns vibrant with hundreds of cherry blossoms during this period, making it a beautiful backdrop for the festival.
  2. Hakodate Port Festival:
    • When: Late July to Early August
    • Where: Throughout the city, especially around the port area.
    • Details: The festival is a testament to Hakodate’s history as a port city. With a variety of events, including squid fishing, parade of ships, and a grand fireworks display, it offers both locals and tourists an insight into the city’s maritime heritage.
  3. Hakodate Christmas Fantasy:
    • When: December
    • Where: Hakodate Bay area.
    • Details: As winter sets in, Hakodate turns into a winter wonderland with the Christmas Fantasy event. A large Christmas tree, sent from Halifax, Canada as a symbol of friendship, is lit up alongside a spectacular fireworks display, creating a mesmerizing sight against the snowy backdrop.
  4. Hakodate Tropical Christmas:
    • When: December
    • Where: Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden
    • Details: This event offers a unique blend of tropical warmth in the chilly winter season. The garden is adorned with over 300,000 lights, illuminating the tropical plants and making it a magical experience for visitors.
  5. Lucky Pierrot Carnival:
    • When: Various times throughout the year
    • Where: At different Lucky Pierrot branches
    • Details: Lucky Pierrot is a famous local fast-food chain in Hakodate. They occasionally host carnivals featuring their mascot, games, and of course, their signature dishes.
  6. Hakodate Ropeway’s Midnight Service:
    • When: During the summer months
    • Where: Mount Hakodate
    • Details: While not a festival in the traditional sense, the midnight service offers a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the beauty of Hakodate at night. From atop Mount Hakodate, one can view the iconic “million-dollar nighttime view” of the city.
  7. Ika Odori (Squid Dance) Festival:
    • When: Summer
    • Where: Throughout the city.
    • Details: Given Hakodate’s reputation for delicious squid, it’s no surprise there’s a festival celebrating it. Visitors can witness the lively squid dance parade and enjoy various squid dishes.
  8. Hakodate Marathon:
    • When: June
    • Where: Throughout the city.
    • Details: Engaging both local and international participants, the Hakodate Marathon routes through some of the most scenic spots of the city. It’s not just a race but also a celebration of health, fitness, and community spirit.
  9. Hakodate Illumination:
    • When: Winter months
    • Where: Throughout the city.
    • Details: Various areas of Hakodate light up with stunning illuminations, creating a romantic and dreamy atmosphere. Popular spots include the Hachiman-zaka Slope and the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward.
  10. Morning Market Festival:
    • When: September
    • Where: Hakodate Morning Market.
    • Details: A festival that revolves around the city’s bustling morning market. Enjoy fresh seafood, participate in tuna cutting demonstrations, and experience the lively atmosphere of local trade.

These are just a selection of the festivals and events in Hakodate. Each offers a unique window into the city’s culture, history, and way of life. Whether you’re there to immerse yourself in its historic charm, culinary delights, or natural beauty, Hakodate has something special to offer for everyone.

Hakodate views of the city from a mountain in Japan

Hakodate Shopping Guide and Souvenir List

Hakodate, as one of the main cities in Hokkaido, offers a shopping experience that combines its rich history with modern trends. The city is known for its fresh seafood, local crafts, and sweets. Here’s a comprehensive guide to shopping in Hakodate and a list of souvenirs to bring back home.

Shopping Areas

Hakodate Morning Market (朝市)

  • Location: Just a few minutes from Hakodate Station.
  • Description: A bustling market open from early morning till noon, it’s the best place to purchase fresh seafood like crabs, sea urchins, and, of course, squids. You can also find fresh produce and local snacks here.

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse (金森赤レンガ倉庫)

  • Location: Along the waterfront.
  • Description: A historic shopping area where old red brick warehouses have been transformed into chic shops, restaurants, and boutiques. The atmosphere here is romantic, especially during the evening.

Hakodate Bay Area

  • Location: Close to the Red Brick Warehouse.
  • Description: This is a modern shopping area with a range of boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. It offers a beautiful view of the harbor and is a great place for both shopping and relaxation.

Goryokaku Tower Shops

  • Location: Goryokaku area.
  • Description: After enjoying the panoramic view from the tower, you can shop for souvenirs, especially those related to the historical significance of the place.

Souvenir List

Seafood and Food Items:

  • Ikasumi (Squid Ink) Products: Ikasumi or squid ink is a local specialty. You can find items such as squid ink ice cream, pasta, and even bread.
  • Shio Ramen: While Sapporo is known for miso ramen, Hakodate prides itself on its salt (shio) ramen. Purchase instant versions to recreate the taste at home.
  • Kombu (Seaweed): Hakodate is known for its high-quality kombu which is an essential ingredient for making Japanese broths.

Sweets and Snacks:

  • Hakodate Milk Products: From ice creams to cheeses, the dairy products from Hakodate are creamy and flavorful.
  • Shio Caramel: A delightful treat, these are caramels made with a hint of salt.
  • Lucky Pierrot Original Goods: From their signature burgers to quirky merchandise, items from this famous local fast-food chain make for unique souvenirs.

Crafts and Miscellaneous:

  • Woodcraft: Purchase items like ‘Maru-Kibori’ (round wood carving) or intricate wooden trays, boxes, and other handicrafts that reflect the city’s artisanal heritage.
  • Matsumae Tsuishu Lacquerware: This is a traditional craft from the nearby Matsumae area, characterized by its vibrant red lacquer.
  • Glassware: Hakodate has several glass studios where you can buy beautifully crafted glass items, from jewelry to tableware.
  • Music Boxes: There are shops where you can buy intricate music boxes, some even allow you to create a custom tune.

Fashion and Accessories:

  • Ainu Craft: Inspired by the indigenous Ainu people, these crafts include clothes, accessories, and even fabrics with traditional patterns.
  • Hakodate Retro: Due to its history as one of the first international ports in Japan, Hakodate has a mix of Japanese and Western-influenced retro fashion items that are unique to the area.

Tips for Shopping in Hakodate:

  1. Tax-Free Shopping: If you’re a tourist, look for shops offering tax-free shopping to save on your purchases.
  2. Try Before You Buy: Many food shops offer samples. This is particularly true at the morning market.
  3. Local Currency: While credit cards are accepted in many places, smaller shops or stalls may only accept cash. It’s wise to have some Japanese yen with you.
  4. Ask for Recommendations: Locals know the best spots. Don’t hesitate to ask someone for their favorite place to buy a specific item.

Remember, the best souvenirs are those that evoke memories of your trip. Whether it’s the taste of shio caramel, the tune of a music box, or the intricate designs of traditional crafts, make sure to choose items that will remind you of your time in Hakodate.

source: Shinichi’s World on YouTube

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Hakodate?

After your trip to Hakodate, there are several nearby destinations worth considering for further exploration. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Sapporo: As the capital city of Hokkaido, Sapporo is a vibrant urban center known for its lively atmosphere, delicious food, and cultural attractions. Explore the city’s parks, visit the Sapporo Beer Museum, and try Sapporo’s famous soup curry. Don’t miss the Sapporo Snow Festival in February, featuring incredible ice sculptures.
  2. Otaru: Located on the coast not far from Sapporo, Otaru is a charming town known for its romantic canal area, preserved historical buildings, and glassworks. Stroll along the canal, visit the Otaru Music Box Museum, and indulge in fresh seafood at local restaurants.
  3. Niseko: If you enjoy winter sports, consider a visit to Niseko, one of Japan’s premier ski resorts. Located about 2 hours from Hakodate by train, Niseko offers excellent powder snow and a range of skiing and snowboarding opportunities. The area also has natural hot springs, making it an ideal destination for relaxation.
  4. Noboribetsu: Known for its hot springs and volcanic activity, Noboribetsu is a popular destination for onsen lovers. Explore the Hell Valley (Jigokudani) with its steaming geysers and vibrant colors, and unwind in one of the numerous hot spring resorts. Noboribetsu is around 3 hours from Hakodate by train and bus.
  5. Lake Toya: Enjoy the natural beauty of Lake Toya, a volcanic caldera lake known for its stunning landscapes. Take a boat cruise on the lake, visit the Showa Shinzan volcanic mountain, and relax in the hot springs. Lake Toya is approximately 2 hours from Hakodate by train and bus.
  6. Aomori: If you’re interested in experiencing more of the Tohoku region, consider visiting Aomori. This city is known for its Nebuta Festival, featuring enormous illuminated floats, and is a gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakami Sanchi. Aomori is accessible from Hakodate by ferry or train.
  7. Lake Shikotsu: Located southeast of Sapporo, Lake Shikotsu is a tranquil caldera lake known for its crystal-clear waters. Enjoy scenic walks around the lake, go hiking in the surrounding mountains, or relax at one of the lakeside hot springs.
  8. Furano: Situated in the center of Hokkaido, Furano is famous for its picturesque lavender fields that bloom from late June to early August. Visit Farm Tomita, one of the region’s most popular lavender farms, and enjoy the stunning floral landscapes. In winter, Furano is also a popular ski resort.
  9. Asahikawa: Known for its Asahiyama Zoo, one of Japan’s most popular zoos, Asahikawa offers a range of attractions. Explore the zoo and see unique animal exhibits, visit the Asahikawa Ramen Village to taste the city’s renowned ramen, and discover the Otokoyama Sake Brewery for a taste of local sake.
  10. Shiretoko National Park: Located in northeastern Hokkaido, Shiretoko National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its pristine nature and wildlife. Take a boat tour to explore the rugged coastline, hike scenic trails, and keep an eye out for brown bears, deer, and marine life.
  11. Kushiro: Known for its Kushiro Marsh, a designated national park, Kushiro offers beautiful wetlands and abundant birdlife. Take a boat tour through the marshes, visit the Kushiro Fisherman’s Wharf MOO for fresh seafood, and explore the picturesque Washo Market.
  12. Akan National Park: Located in eastern Hokkaido, Akan National Park is known for its picturesque landscapes and hot springs. Explore Lake Akan and take a boat tour to see the marimo, unique spherical algae formations. You can also visit the nearby town of Kushiro for its famous Tancho cranes.
  13. Sounkyo Gorge: Situated in Daisetsuzan National Park, Sounkyo Gorge offers stunning views of steep cliffs, waterfalls, and hot springs. Take a cable car ride to Mount Kurodake for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and go hiking in the area.
  14. Tomakomai: Located on the southern coast of Hokkaido, Tomakomai is known for its seafood and hot springs. Visit the Mitsui Outlet Park to shop for discounted goods, enjoy fresh seafood at the local restaurants, and relax in the hot spring resorts.
  15. Obihiro: Known as the “Tokachi region’s kitchen,” Obihiro is famous for its agricultural products and delicious food. Visit the Obihiro Zoo to see animals like polar bears and penguins, explore the Tokachi Millennium Forest, and savor local specialties like butadon (grilled pork rice bowl).
  16. Otofuke and Tokachigawa Onsen: Located near Obihiro, Otofuke is famous for its vast fields of sunflowers. During the summer, you can witness the vibrant yellow blooms stretching as far as the eye can see. Afterward, head to nearby Tokachigawa Onsen for a relaxing hot spring experience.
  17. Furukawa: Located in the eastern part of Hokkaido, Furukawa is known for its scenic beauty and outdoor activities. Explore the Furukawa-cho Lavender Garden, go hiking in the nearby mountains, and visit the Furukawa Fisherman’s Wharf for fresh seafood.
  18. Rishiri Island: Situated off the coast of Hokkaido, Rishiri Island offers breathtaking landscapes and opportunities for outdoor adventures. Hike to the summit of Mount Rishiri for panoramic views, explore the coastal cliffs, and enjoy the island’s serene atmosphere.
  19. Shikabe Kanketsusen Park: Located near Hakodate, Shikabe Kanketsusen Park is a unique attraction featuring ice sculptures and frozen waterfalls. Visit during the winter months to witness the magical ice formations and enjoy winter activities like ice skating.
  20. Muroran: A coastal city near Hakodate, Muroran offers beautiful beaches, hot springs, and scenic views. Visit Cape Chikyu for panoramic vistas of the coastline, explore Muroran Port for fresh seafood, and relax in the hot spring resorts.
  21. Kushiro Marshland: Located in eastern Hokkaido, Kushiro Marshland is the largest wetland in Japan and a paradise for nature lovers. Take a boat tour to observe the diverse bird species, enjoy nature walks along the boardwalks, and experience the unique ecosystem of the marshland.
  22. Abashiri: Known for its drifting sea ice and prison museum, Abashiri offers a fascinating blend of natural beauty and history. Take a cruise to see the ice floes, visit the Abashiri Prison Museum to learn about its past, and explore the nearby Lake Notoro for its stunning sunsets.

These destinations offer a diverse range of experiences, from vibrant city life to natural beauty and cultural heritage. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, or culinary delights, these places provide ample opportunities to continue your exploration of Hokkaido and beyond. Consider your interests and the amount of time you have available to determine which destination suits you best.

Hakodate port views in Japan

Hakodate Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Hakodate is a captivating city in Hokkaido, Japan, offering a rich blend of history, natural beauty, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re exploring its historic sites, indulging in fresh seafood, or enjoying panoramic views, Hakodate has something to offer every traveler.

During your visit, be sure to experience the stunning views from Mount Hakodate, immerse yourself in the charm of the Motomachi district, and savor the local specialties at the Hakodate Morning Market. Don’t forget to explore the city’s cultural attractions, such as the Goryokaku Park and the Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples.

Beyond Hakodate, consider venturing to nearby destinations like Sapporo, Otaru, and the beautiful natural landscapes of Hokkaido. Each place offers unique experiences that complement your visit to Hakodate.

Remember to plan your visit according to the seasons, taking advantage of the cherry blossoms in spring, the vibrant festivals in summer, the stunning foliage in autumn, and the winter illuminations. And don’t miss the opportunity to relax in the local hot springs and savor the flavors of Hokkaido’s cuisine.

Throughout your journey, embrace the spirit of Hakodate, known for its historical significance, cultural heritage, and warm hospitality. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, or a nature enthusiast, Hakodate welcomes you with open arms.

As you explore the city, immerse yourself in its unique atmosphere and create lasting memories. Enjoy the beauty of Hakodate and the surrounding region, and take home a piece of its charm with you.

We hope this travel guide has provided you with the information you need to make the most of your visit to Hakodate. Safe travels and enjoy your time in this enchanting city!

In Hakodate’s embrace, where land meets sea, A city of charm and history, it beckons me. Mount Hakodate stands tall, offering a view, A panorama of beauty, a mesmerizing hue.

Stroll through Motomachi, with its European flair, Cobblestone streets, buildings with stories to share. Goryokaku’s star-shaped fort, a historic sight, Cherry blossoms bloom, painting the day and night.

Hakodate Morning Market, a bustling scene, Seafood delights, fresh and pristine. Taste the savory ikura, melt-in-your-mouth squid, A culinary journey, where flavors are bid.

Hakodate Bay’s allure, a waterfront delight, Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse, alive both day and night. As nightfall casts its spell, the city comes alive, Illuminated streets, a spectacle to thrive.

Beyond the city’s grasp, nature’s wonders await, Onuma Quasi-National Park, a tranquil landscape. Explore the lakes, the volcanic trails, Nature’s masterpiece, where peace prevails.

Hakodate, a city of contrasts, old and new, Where traditions thrive, with modernity in view. In hot springs’ embrace, find respite and ease, A moment of tranquility, a moment of peace.

From Hakodate to beyond, a journey to embark, Sapporo’s lively streets, Otaru’s canal’s spark. Hokkaido’s wonders, diverse and grand, In this captivating land, memories are planned.

So, traveler, embrace Hakodate’s allure, Immerse yourself in its stories, both past and future. Let the city’s spirit guide your way, In Hakodate’s embrace, may you find joy each day.

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