As Hokkaido’s third-largest city, Hakodate is well known for its spectacular views that are both fascinating and breathing taking. Located at the island’s southern tip, Hakodate is one of the first of Japan’s harbor cities to open itself to international trade after Japan’s era of isolation, making it an ideal tourist location for unique sights influenced by foreign inspiration and Japanese culture.
What to do in Hakodate
A popular form of transportation in historical Japan, rickshaws are a unique mode of transportation powered by a runner pulling a two-wheel cart. Located just a minute walk from Hakodate Station, this tour visits the Hakodate Bay area. Guests will be given a chance to try a Western-style kimono called “hakama” while enjoying the tour from a comfortable seat in the rickshaw.
This Western-style fort is the first of its kind and one of the most beautiful. Created in a massive, star shape, this fort was built in the last years of the Edo period against the imperialist threat of Western powers. In the 1910s, this military fort was made into a public park with over one thousand cherry trees planted along its moats, making it one of the best places in all of Japan for cherry blossom viewing in early May.
If you want to see the historical center of Hakodate, then Motomachi is the place to see. This area is unique as it was built in the former European Style and several churches. Stepping into Motomachi is enough to give visitors a shock as Japan seems so far away here. Motomachi is the perfect example of how Western styles began to influence Japanese culture.
Hakodate Museum of North Peoples
Built in 1926, this building homage to the Ainu culture. The Hakodate Museum of North Peoples focuses on the indigenous culture that is not well known outside of Japan. Guests even have the opportunity to learn about other indigenous groups in japan such as Sakhalin, a group of people from an island to the north of Hokkaido and in what is now a part of Russia.
Where to stay in Hakodate
Aqua Garden Hotel Hakodate
This hotel is located 5 minutes away from Hakodate Station and is the definition of convenient. Aqua Garden Hotel offers breakfast and lunch on weekdays, a souvenir shop, coin-operated laundry and computers for guests to use. The rooms can come in single, twin, semi-double and double rooms as well as Japanese-style rooms with tatami flooring for an authentic feel.
If you want to stay in downtown Hakodate, then check-in at Bourou Noguchi. This hotel offers a selection of traditional Japanese-style to Western-style rooms to choose from. Their amenities include rooftop open-air baths for a stunning view and delicious local cuisine. Bourou Noguchi is perfect for couples looking for a romantic setting.
Yunokawa Prince Hotel Nagisatei
For a more authentic but luxurious stay, book a room at Yunokawa Prince Hotel Nagisatei. Located on Hakodate’s coat, this hotel offers traditional Japanese-style rooms with tatami floors and futon beds, but with a modern flare of comfort. Amenities include free wifi, Japanese and Western-style buffet, hot spring bath and air conditioning.
Where to eat in Hakodate
Tea Shop Yuhi
If you want a taste of history and traditional Japanese green tea, then Tea Shop Yuhi should be at the top of your list if you plan to visit Hakodate. This teahouse dates back to 1885 when the building was once the Hakodate Quarantine Office but now overlooks the water as a famous, charming teahouse. Don’t forget to try the local wagashi!
The name says it all at this beer hall and pub all mixed into one. Grab a cold drink at Hakodate Beer or buy a bottle or two for friends to enjoy. Made with local ingredients and water from the neighboring Mount Hakodate, this pub is popular for its different blends and quality drinks and snacks.
Ramen enthusiasts all know that different areas of Japan have specialized local ramen. Hakodate is known for its salt-based ramen, “shio”. Seiryuken specializes in Hakodate’s special ramen and is conveniently located just 5-minutes from JR Hakodate Station by foot.
Gotoken Restaurant Yukikawatei
Gotoken Restaurant Yukikawatei offers a taste of famous culinary skills that have been in place for over a hundred years since it opened in 1879. Guests can enjoy various cuisines such as pasta or sandwiches. But it is highly recommended for guests to try their famous Curry Rice that carries flavors from England, France and India