HAKODATE GENERALHakodate is located on the southern end of Hokkaido. After the end of Japan’s long isolationist policy, Hakodate become open to American ships in 1854 and open to general trade in 1858. It is also the site of Japans first western style fort, called Goryoku, built in the shape of a five pointed star. Hakodate also served as the capital of Hokkaido for two years from 1869 to 1871. Although its importance has declined somewhat in recent years, it still serves as a sea port and transit area to the main island of Honshu and also as a trading port to other parts of Japan and the world. It is the third largest city in Hokkaido, has many places to visit and a population of approximately 287,637 people. Major industries include fishing, ship building and food processing.
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CITY OUTLINELocated on a peninsula with two bays cutting in at each side, the city of Hakodate stretches in a north-west to south-east direction. Hakodate main station and Hakodate pier are both approximately located in the center of the city. Most of the historical sections of the city are near the southern end. Also located at the southern end of the city is Mt Hakodateyama. It rises well above the city and offers a spectacular view over the city and surrounding ocean. It is said to be one of the most beautiful views in the world.The northern area of the city is the most modern area and offers the best shopping. What remains of the first western style fort built in Japan and and the last hold-out of the Tokugawa Shogunate sammurai warriors, named Goryoku fort, can also be seen in this area. Hakodate offers a small tram system and bus network to get around the city. The trams are a very convenient way to see most of the sights in Hakodate and are reccomended. (Click here for a full Hakodate Streetcar / Tram Map. *** MAP WILL OPEN IN A NEW WINDOW ***)
HAKODATE PLACES TO VISIT
Hakodate was the capital of Hokkaido for two years and is still a major connection area to get to the main Japanese island of Honshu. The city offers many great attractions and most of them are located near streetcar / tram stops.The Shinkansen (Bullet Train) now travels to Hakodate making it an easy place to get to. For the continuing trip to Sapporo a regular express train is necessary.
HAKODATE MAIN ATTRACTIONS
Hakodate Places To Visit
- Gagyusanmyoshin Temple is a Buddhist temple tucked up in the hills of Mt. Hakodate. It is a large temple and being up on the slopes of Mt. Hakodate, has views overlooking the residential area of Hakodate. It is also on the way to the Hekketsu-hi Monument, which is a short walk away.
- The Hekketsu Monument is the centre piece for the burial and tribute for the 800 samurai and their leaders who died fighting against government forces in the Boshin War. This war included, specifically, the Battle of Hakodate. This battle in 1869 was the samurai's last stand.
- Sumiyoshi Shrine is a shinto shrine in Hakodate. It is located on the cape near the base of Mt. Hakodate. It is not a far walk from the ocean, on the eastern side of the headland. The founding date of the shrine is unknown, however according to local stories passed down, the shrine was built during the Kamakura period, which was established in 1192 (bringing the start of the samurai).
- This may not be high on the must see things in Hakodate but it is certainly up there in terms of uniqueness. This appropriately named shrine can be found near the base of Mt. Hakodate. The Japanese word 'Chinpo' translates to 'penis' in English. Alternatively, the word Chinpō also translates into 'rare treasure'.
- Hakodate Park is one of the gems in Hakodate. During the cherry blossom season from mid April to the beginning of May, it is covered in beautiful cherry blossoms and is one of the top spots in Hokkaido to enjoy these flowers. The blossoms here are stunning and a must see if you are in Hakodate at this time.
- In Hakodate, at the base of the slope that leads up to Mt. Hakodate there is a narrow green space that runs for about five blocks. This green space is a really pleasant area to take a stroll along. On both sides the park is flanked by some nice old buildings. The green space is home to various statues and there is a historical site here as well.
- Sakamoto Ryoma was born on 3 January 1836, and grew up to be a master swordsman and lower class samurai who opposed the Tokugawa Shogunate. He was against the modernization and westernization of Japan, though he was a visionary who dreamt of an independent Japan without feudalism.
- By the shores of Ōmori Beach there is a Shinto Shrine called Daimoriinari Shrine. The year of its founding is unknown due to the great fires in Hakodate. However, there is a map from the Kanbun Era dated back to the 1600's with the name of the temple on it so the temple is estimated to be around 350 years old.
- Ōmori Park is a large green space in Hakodate. It is used for sporting events (namely baseball), and as a play area for children. At the northern end of the park, you can find an impressive memorial hall and burial site. The park is popular for those looking to keep fit, as it has outdoor exercise equipment, plus it being a good spot to jog around.
- Daikanji is one of the many Buddhist temples that can be found throughout Hokkaido, Japan. This unassuming temple is also the residence of the monks here. Once through the main gate, there is a small courtyard off of the main entrance. The small Jizo Statues are here draped in red cloth.
Since the end of Japans isolationist policy and the opening of ports such as Hakodate to foreign trading ships and fishing vessels, Hakodate has had its now famous Morning Market. The market is held daily between 5am and Mid-day near the main train stations west entrance. Many types of fruits and seafood are sold here. Hokkaido crabs and sea urchin are considered among the best in Japan. The are also many seafood restaurants in this area serving fresh, delicious seafood meals. In this area (approximately five minute walk) is the moored Mashu Maru Memorial Ship. Once used as a ferry between the main island of Honshu and Hokkaido it now serves as a great places to relax and have a coffee or meal at the restaurant located near the bow of the ship and gives a nice view of the bay and port area. Top
Lying at the southern end of the central Hokkaido peninsula Mount Hakodate (Hakodateyama) is 334 meters high and allows a spectacular view of both the city and the Tsugaru Strait. On clear days and especially at night, the view of Hakodate from the mountain is quite amazing and is said to be amongst the three most beautiful views in the world. The cable car connects to an observatory at the top of the mountain. Inside there are souvenir shops, a restaurant with incredible views, and an events hall where monitors play a show about the four seasons of Hakodate. The temperature at the top of the mountain, even in summer, is slightly cool and winds can cause even cooler temperatures. The cable car which holds up to 125 people will depart every ten minutes in peak times. It is possible to drive to the top of the mountain in the warm months after the cable car service has finished operation for the day. (After approximately 10 pm) Top
|Admission||¥640 one way / ¥1 160 return
|Opening Hours||10 am to 10 pm April 26 to October 31
10 am to 9 pm Nov 1 to Aril 25
|Closed||For a short time in early November for yearly service.
19-7 Motomachi Hakodate
Constructed from 1857 to 1864 as Japan's first Western style fort Goryokaku, is now a park and home to some 1 600 cherry trees. Shaped like a star boats can be rented for use in the moat that completely surrounds this beautiful area. The fort is also famous as the area where the Edo Shogunate Samurai had there last stand against the newly formed Meiji Imperial Army. Inside the park there is a small museum that displays weapons, uniforms and other historical articles related to these events. The whole area can be viewed from the Goryokaku Tower. Approximately 50 meters high and standing near the park entrance it gives you a great view of the star shape and the general area. Top
|Admission||Tower – Adults ¥520
|Opening Hours||8 am to 8 pm Daily|
|Getting There||From JR Hakodate Station, take a tram to the “Goryokaku Koen Mae” stop (10 minutes). From there, the fortress is another 5-10 minutes on foot.|
Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses
Originally built in 1909 by the Kanemori Beer and Shipping Company, these warehouses were remodeled in 1988 into a beer hall, shopping area and multi use hall. The harbor area and warehouse area a lovely place to spend a relaxing morning or a romantic stroll at night. Try the famous Hakodate beer which has been in production since 1898. Top
|Getting There||The Warehouses are approximately a ten minute walk from JR Hakodate Station between the station and Mt Hakodateyama.
14-16 Suehiro-cho Hakodate
The Motomachi District is a beautiful area located between the port area and Hakodate Mountain just five minutes by streetcar from Hakodate main station. This area was favored by early Missions / Consuls and Trading Officers after the opening of Japan to the west. Many of Hakodate's beautiful and important assets can be found in this area. It is highly recommended to take the time to walk through this area to get the best that Hakodate has to offer. However this area is built entirely on hilly terrain and can get quite steep at times. Top
Within Motomachi District -
Motomachi Roman Catholic Church -
The original Motomachi Roman Catholic Church was constructed by the first Catholic missionary, Rev. Fr. Mermet de Cashon, in 1861. The present building was built in 1924 after the previous two burnt down in 1868 and 1921. This church has the distinction of being the only church in Japan that had its alter donated by Pope Benedict XV. Top
Address : 15-30 Motomachi
Motomachi Park -
Motomachi Park is the place where Hakodate was originally founded. Within the park there is the Old Colonial Commissions Library and the Old Public Hall of Hakodate 1910. Inside there is a historical photograph museum and beautiful view of the city on the second floor, and a local tourist information center on the first. It is open daily 9am to 7pm (to 5pm in winter). Top
Old British Consulate (Port Memorial Hall)
The original British Consulate was built for the first English consul to come to Hokkaido in 1859. This structure was destroyed by fire in 1907 and the present building erected. The consulate ceased operation in 1934 but the building was given Municipal Tangible Cultural Property honors in 1979. Inside there are displays on various aspects of Japanese history and English-Japanese relations over the years. There is also a small cafe and a shop where various imported English goods can be purchased. Top
* Please note that photographs are generally not allowed to be taken in the building.
|Opening Hours||9 am to 7 pm daily : April to October
9am to 5 pm daily : November to March
|Getting There||Approximately 7 minutes walk on the Motoizaka-slope from the Suehiro-cho Streetcar Stop
33-14 Motomachi Hakodate
Old Russian Consulate
The first Russian consul general Goskevich came to his post in Hakodate in 1858. The first Russian consul arrived in Sapporo in 1858, however the current building was not constructed until 1908. This building however was in use as the Russian Consulate until 1944. During the second world war the Japanese government erected a tall wall around the building. The building is still in use as the "Southern Hokkaido Youth House" and as such visitors are not permitted inside. Top
|Getting There||The consulate is about a ten minute walk from the “Saiwaizaka-slope” bus stop toward Mount Hakodate
17-3 Funami-cho Hakodate
Russian Orthodox Church
This church was first built in 1861 when Russian Orthodoxy was introduced to Japan by a priest named Nikolai and then rebuilt in 1916. The Byzantine-style Church is also locally known as "Gangan-dera or Ding-Dong Temple" due to the distinctive sounds of the bells. Top
|Getting There||Approximately 15 minutes walk up the Daisanzaka-slope from the Jujigai Street Car Stop
3-13 Motomachi Hakodate
This beautiful brick building with a green tinted roof was Japans first all female convent and was constructed in 1898 by eight nuns from France. Today, there are about 70 nuns still living and working in the convent. They are self sufficient and support themselves by managing fields and dairy farms. While visitors are not permitted to enter the convent itself you may enter the front yard and there are also some photographs displayed in the visitors reference room that show the history of the convent and its inhabitants. There is also a convent store where particularly delicious and well known home-made biscuits, sweets, butter and handicrafts are for sale. Top
* Please note that whether you are religious or not this is a fully working convent and some Nuns may have taken vows of silence. Please be respectful at all times.
|Getting There||Approximately ¥ 2,500 by taxi from JR Hakodate station or Five minutes from Hakodate Airport
346 Kamiyunokawa-cho Hakodate
This hot spring area was discovered about 360 years ago and is the oldest hot spring area in Hokkaido. There are many hotels, inns and restaurants situated in this area overlooking the Straits of Tsugaru. It is also a popular swimming spot during the summer. The night scenery can be quite lovely with the lights of the fishing boats reflecting on the water. The spring water is salty but clear and is said to be of great value for your health. There are also some bathing areas for local monkeys where you may take some photos. Top
* If you are unsure of Japanese hot spring bathing etiquette, please click here for our help page.
|Getting There||Take the streetcar from JR Hakodate Station to the Yunokawa Onsen Station Approximately 40 minutes.
Street Car Map