Historically, Hakodate has been one of the most important places in the country of Japan. The city was among the first to open itself up to trade in 1854 and soon afterward it became one of the biggest main cities in the island of Hokkaido. Currently, it is the third biggest Hokkaido city in terms of population, behind Sapporo and Asahikawa. It is overlooked by the majestic Mt. Hakodate and is home to many places of interest, both natural and historical. Being near the water, Hakodate’s fishing industry flourishes. It is also the main source of food for locals so Hakodate is home to some of the best sushi and seafood in Japan. If you’re planning a trip here check out some of these amazing things to do in Hakodate, Japan while you’re here.
1. See the city from above on Mt. Hakodate Ropeway
What better way to get acquainted with a city than to observe it from really high up? The Mt. Hakodate Ropeway is a fun and amazing way to see the city from one of its most important landmarks. The ride up and down takes about three minutes so the whole journey should take about ten minutes total (not counting how long you stay at the top for). The Mt. Hakodate Hakodate Ropeway is actually among the most popular attractions in Japan.
Mt. Hakodate Ropeway
Address: 19-7 Motomachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0054, Japan
Website: Mt. Hakodate Ropeway
Opening hours: 10am - 10pm (daily)
Price: 12 USD
2. Admire the fantastical carvings of Koryu-ji Temple
The Koryu-ji Temple is located just at the foothills of the Mt. Hakodate and is also an important part of local culture. Koryu-ji Temple is one of the oldest in the city. It is so historically significant that it is registered as a national landmark. The Buddhist temple was actually moved here from a different location in 1879 and is very emblematic of Japanese-style architecture. Marvel at the carved lions and sculptures that are located around the grounds.
Address: 21-11 Funamicho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0055, Japan
Website: Koryu-ji Temple
Opening hours: 9am - 4pm (daily)
3. Stop by the historic Old Russian Consulate
Once Japan was opened to the Western powers in the 1800s, representatives from all over the world came to Japan to experience the once mysterious Eastern country. Of course, they also came to engage in trade and diplomatic missions and one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Japan was Russia. The Japanese government committed itself to provide some land for the foreign diplomats and soon the Russian Consulate was built using Western-style architecture. Today it stands as one of Hakodate’s historic reminders and you can observe it from the outside.
Old Russian Consulate
Address: 17-3 Funamicho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0055, Japan
Website: Old Russian Consulate
4. Catch the cherry blossoms at tranquil Hakodate Park
Not only is Hakodate Park a perfect place to catch the blooming of the cherry blossoms but it is also an important historic landmark in the city of Hakodate. Hakodate Park is the first park in Hokkaido built in 1879 at the foot of Hakodate Mountain. The mountain faces one side of the park and the waterfront faces the other. Hakodate Park has been named one of the 100 best historic parks in Japan and captures the essence of Meiji-era Japan very well. If you miss the cherry blossoms there are lots of other great things to do around here as well like a mini zoo and fountain displays.
Address: 17-17 青柳町 Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0044, Japan
Website: Hakodate Park
Opening hours: 8:45am - 5:30pm (daily)
5. Be captivated by the rugged coastal views at Cape Tachimachi
Located in the southern edge of the city and by the Hakodate Mountain, Cape Tachimachi will make you feel like you’re on the edge of the world. The scenic Cape Tachimachi is where you can watch the Pacific Ocean crash on the cliffs down below. The Tachimachi cliffs were symbolic to the Ainu people (natives of Japan) as a place for fishing. The cliffs are a popular place filming place for dramas and Japanese singer Masako Mori even wrote a song about them.
Address: Japan, 〒040-0045 Hokkaido, Hakodate, 住吉町
Website: Cape Tachimachi
6. Marvel at the stately architecture of the Old Public Hall of Hakodate
Following the opening of Japan to Western trade, western influence quickly grew around the city and one of those spheres of influence was in the architectural designs of some of the buildings, built in the era. The Old Public Hall of Hakodate is a perfect example of that. having been built in 1810, the Old Public Hall of Hakodate was a showcase of elegant Western-style architecture reminiscent of palaces that belonged to European monarchs. The Imperial Family of Japan would stay here when in Hakodate and the hall is still used for events to this day.
Old Public Hall of Hakodate
Address: 11-13 Motomachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0054, Japan
Website: Old Public Hall of Hakodate
Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)
Price: 3 USD
7. Take traditional English high tea at the Former British Consulate of Hakodate
Similar to the Old Russian consulate, the English one was built for the same purpose–to house and accommodate diplomats on their missions in Japan. However, unlike the Russian Consulate, the English one is open for people to explore and of course, get a proper cup of tea. The former British Consulate of Hakodate is one of the best places in Hakodate to get a real Meiji experience. For 300 yen (3 USD) you can wander the grounds of this Meiji-era building, take in the gardens and fountains, and have high tea. The building is also a museum showcasing everyday life for the British settlers of Hakodate.
British Consulate of Hakodate
Address: 33-14 Motomachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0054, Japan
Website: British Consulate of Hakodate
Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)
Price: 3 USD
8. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Hakodate Orthodox Church
Naturally, as the country opened itself up to foreign trade, many of the foreigners who settled here brought their customs and religions with them. When the Russian consulate was established, they brought Russian Orthodoxy with them and as such established churches in Hakodate. Hakodate Orthodox Church is the oldest Orthodox Church in Japan having been built in 1859 in a style very emblematic of Russian Orthodox churches. Today, it still operates as a church.
Hakodate Orthodox Church
Address: 3-13 元町 Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0054, Japan
Website: Hakodate Orthodox Church
Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)
Price: Free but donations are accepted
9. Walk down the famous sloped street of Hachiman Zaka
Since a lot of the city of Hakodate is on the foot of the Hakodate Mountain, some of the streets here can get pretty hilly. The Hachiman Zaka is a street that was named after a nearby shrine of the same name. The shrine has since moved but the street remains a landmark in the city, known for being a steep hill. The street itself is popular, having been featured in many movie and TV commercials.
Address: Hachiman Zaka SlopeHakodate, Hokkaido, Japan
10. Shop for Hokkaido goodies at Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse
When it comes to making use of old structures, Japan knows what it’s doing. The Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse is an old brick warehouse that was built in the 1800s and currently houses some shopping centers in Hakodate. There are about four different warehouses all interconnected with each other to make a large shopping complex. So if you’re in Hakodate and you’re looking to pick up some cool souvenirs, stop by Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse,
Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse
Address: 14-１２ Suehirocho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0053, Japan
Website: Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse
Opening hours: 9:30am - 8pm (daily)
11. Go souvenir-hunting at Hakodate Meijikan
If Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse wasn’t enough shopping for you, there’s always Hakodate Meijikan. The building was built in 1911 and first used as a post office for the people of Hakodate. Over time the building was converted to a shopping area that has lots of great stuff. The building is also characterized by its red brick facade and you can pick up lots of amazing little things like glassworks, handicrafts, and there is even a spot to make your own music box.
Address: 12-11番17号 Toyokawacho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0065, Japan
Website: Hakodate Meijikan
Opening hours: 9:30am - 6pm (daily)
La Vista Hakodate Bay is one of the best hotels in Hakodateand located only a three-minute walk away from the Red Brick Warehouses. But where La Vista Hakodate Bay really shines is its amazing breakfast. The self-described “best breakfast in Japan” is found here, serving everything from West-style delicacies to local specialties to an all-you-can-eat buffet. But the real reputation for breakfast here is found in the seafood donburi–fresh seafood served over rice that just keeps on coming. Fresh seafood is brought out all morning until the end of breakfast so you can just indulge yourself and eat as much as you can.
13. Ring in Christmas joy at Hakodate Christmas Fantasy
The Hakodate Christmas Fantasy is exactly what it sounds like. Although this event is a seasonal one, if you’re in Hakodate during the Christmas season don’t miss this opportunity to check out Hakodate Christmas Fantasy. The area outside the Red Brick Warehouse is filled with Christmas cheer and festivities like a massive Christmas tree that gets lit up with over 50,000 twinkling little lights. There are also fireworks displays and food stalls serving hot food and treats. Catch it in December leading up to Christmas day.
Hakodate Christmas Fantasy
Address: 14-2 Suehiro-cho, Hakodate
14. Feast on fresh and dried seafood at Hakodate Morning Market
Hakodate is home to some of the best and freshest seafood in the country so if you’re looking to do a little shopping for food, then definitely head to Hakodate Morning Market. The market is just a few steps away from the train station and is over city blocks filled with fresh food and a few food stalls so if you’re not in the mood for buying food and cooking it yourself, you can always grab a quick bite.
Hakodate Morning Market
Address: 9-19 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0063, Japan
Website: Hakodate Morning Market
Opening hours: 7am - 3pm (daily)
15. Dine on tasty donburi at Donburi Yokocho Market
If you’re going to spend any time in Hakodate then you’ll absolutely want to try some donburi. Donburi is essentially the city’s most popular dish especially if it involves seafood. Donburi is pretty simple as it is typically meat served with rice but at Donburi Yokocho Market, seafood is king. Donburi Yokocho Market has several different shops all specializing in the delicious dish of donburi. Shop around and try a few or try them all if you’re really hungry.
Donburi Yokocho Market
Address: 9-15 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0063, Japan
Website: Donburi Yokocho Market
Opening hours: 6am - 3pm (daily)
16. Tour Mashu Maru, a maritime museum on a ship
Hakodate is a city on the water and as such, the city has had an important history with maritime navigation and living. In modern times the island of Hokkaido and the main island are connected via an underground tunnel but before then, it was a ferry that made access to both islands possible and that’s where Mashu Maru comes in. The boat is now a museum that is home to displays and information about Hakodate’s maritime past as well as information about Mashu Maru itself.
Address: １２番地先 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0063, Japan
Website: Mashu Maru
Opening hours: 8:30am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 5 USD
17. Explore the splendid star-shaped fort of Goryokaku
Goryokaku is one of the most interesting landmarks in Hakodate. Goryokaku was the main fortress on the island during the short-lived Republic of Ezo that lasted from December 1869 to June 1869. The fortress is shaped like a star and was inspired by a French fortress, allowing for more gun emplacements on the walls. The fort was built by the Tokugawa Shogunate and was meant to repel attacks against possible Russian invasion. However the Goryokaku fort saw action during the last battle of the Boshin War. Now it is a historical monument and great place to watch the cherry blossoms.
Address: 44 Goryokakucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0001, Japan
Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 10 USD
18. Marvel at star-shaped Goryokaku from atop Goryōkaku Tower
As previously stated, the Goryōkaku Fortress is a historical landmark in the city of Hakodate. Visiting the fortress is a lot of fun and provides some pretty amazing opportunities for photo opportunities but if you’re not into visiting the fort itself and want to get a bird’s eye view of the star-shaped fort, then check out the Goryōkaku Tower.
Address: 43-9 Goryokakucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0001, Japan
Website: Goryōkaku Tower
Opening hours: 8am - 7pm (daily)
Price: 8 USD
19. Admire the ancient weeping cherry tree of Miharu Takizakura
The Miharu Takizakura is a legendary cherry tree and one of historical and cultural importance. The tree is protected and usually blooms in mid-April with light pink flowers spreading in all directions that resembles a waterfall. The tree is one of the five great cherry trees in Japan and is only one of three giant cherry trees in the country. It is designated as a national treasure and widely known as the most important tree in Japan.
Address: Sakurakubo-１１５ Taki, Miharu, Tamura District, 963-7714, Japan
Website: Miharu Takizakura
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
Sodium might not be good for your diet but it is good for your skin. The Yunohama Hotel has some amazing onsens that guests can book if they’re feeling particularly stressed or just to experience something that is very quintessentially Japanese. The hot spring baths overlook the Tsugaru Strait and if you’re coming in from out of town then you’re in luck because the Yunohama Hotel is only a short walk away from the train station. Guests can book a Japanese-style room with a tatami mat and futon or a Western-style room while they’re here.
21. Visit the snow monkeys at Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden
In the dead of winter sometimes you miss the greenery of the summer. The Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden is a perfect place to escape to during the colder months and check some cool tropical plants. But what you really have to see at Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden are their hot tub-bathing monkeys. The Japanese macaques that live on the grounds head to the hot springs and take a little warm bath to heat themselves up a bit.
Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden
Address: 3 Chome-1-番１５号 Yunokawacho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 042-0932, Japan
Website: Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden
Opening hours: 9:30am - 4:30pm (daily)
Price: 5 USD
22. Stroll the serene grounds of Trappistine Monastery
Temples and shrines are pretty ubiquitous all around Japan but convents typically aren’t. The Trappistine Monastery is a unique place in Japan as it is one of the very few Catholic monasteries in the country. The Trappistine Monastery is quiet and peaceful and is still home to many nuns who live and work there. The Trappistine Monastery has been around since the 19th century and is open to visitors who wish to stroll among the grounds and take in this little slice of serenity in the middle of the city.
Address: 346, 上湯川町 Hakodate, Hokkaido 042-0914, Japan
Website: Trappistine Monastery
Opening hours: 8am - 5pm (daily)
Price: Free but donations are welcomed
23. Bathe in the sea at Mizunashikaihin Hot Spring
Hot springs are a tradition in Japan and if you’re looking to visit one that’s a little more off the beaten path than look no further than the Mizunashikaihin Hot Spring. The Mizunashikaihin Hot Spring is a naturally occurring hot spring that’s located on the water near the suburbs of Hakodate. Submerge your body in the warm healing touches of the hot spring and see the Pacific Ocean spread out in front of you for a really memorable hot spring experience.
Mizunashikaihin Hot Spring
Address: Esanmisakicho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 041-0605, Japan
Website: Mizunashikaihin Hot Spring
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
24. Hop on a vintage Hakodate city tram
The Hakodate city tram is great for many things. For one, it is probably your best bet for getting around the city itself if you’re staying in town for a while and want to see and do a lot of things while you’re here. But it can also be a history lesson! The vintage tramcars run during the summer months and have been refurbished to run on the newer, more modern tracks. The trams are from 1918 and are still in good condition so hop on and get a blast from the past.
Hakodate city tram
Website: Hakodate city tram
Opening hours: Every 6 to 12 minutes
Price: 2.50 USD
25. Snack on squid-shaped confectioneries at Hakodate Yanagiya Main Store
Founded in May 1933, Hakodate Yanagiya Main Store is the place to go for some of the tastiest treats you can find in Hakodate. The squid-shaped candies are a particularly interesting thing to buy but don’t worry, they are not actually made out of squid or taste like squid. There are also a wide variety of other candies and cakes available that make a great snack or something cool to bring to home to friends.
Hakodate Yanagiya Main Store
Address: 3-13 Bandaicho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0075, Japan
Website: Hakodate Yanagiya Main Store
Opening hours: 8:30am - 8pm (daily)
26. Enjoy a calming soak at Nishikikyo Onsen
There’s never a bad time to go to the hot springs. Even in the middle of the summer, the springs still have some amazing healing properties to them, and in the wintertime, it’s the perfect place to hang out and get warm in a nice hot mineral-infused bath. The Nishikikyo Onsen is a perfect place to go to relax and the water is said to help people with stiffness and arthritis, burning pains, the common cold, chronic skin irritations, and other ailments.
Address: 444-1 Nishikikyōchō, Hakodate-shi
Website: Nishikikyo Onsen
Opening hours: 5am - 11pm (daily)
Price: 4 USD
27. Have a magical dining experience at Lucky Pierrot Tōgeshita Shop
Japan has lots of amazing food and Hakodate is one of the places in the country that has some pretty amazing seafood. But if you’re craving some beef and a tasty dinner that reminds you of Western burger joints, then Lucky Pierrot Tōgeshita Shop won’t disappoint. This local burger chain serves up some fast and amazing burgers with weird and eclectic decor in the shop. There are tons of different burgers to try so don’t be afraid to try a few.
Lucky Pierrot Tōgeshita Shop
Address: 337-11 Togeshita, Nanae, Kameda District, Hokkaido 041-1102, Japan
Website: Lucky Pierrot Tōgeshita Shop
Opening hours: 10am - 12:30am (daily)
28. Get a glimpse of monastic life at Tobetsu Trappist Monastery
The Tobetsu Trappist Monastery is a little out of the way but the journey there is absolutely beautiful so if you’re looking to get out of the city for a bit and want to explore a little of the countryside, then Tobetsu Trappist Monastery is a good place to check out. Visitors can get a glimpse of monastic life amid the farmland and forests of the western edge of Hakodate. The monks here sustain their own way of life by growing their own food and vegetables but they also have things for visitors to buy like delicious homemade ice cream and cookies.
Tobetsu Trappist Monastery
Address: 392 Mitsuishi, Hokuto, Hokkaido 049-0283, Japan
Website: Tobetsu Trappist Monastery
Opening hours: 8am - 8pm (daily)
Price: Free but donations are welcome
29. Explore the Edo-period Matsumae Castle
What makes Matsumae Castle noteworthy is that it is the only Edo-period castle in Hokkaido. The castle was the chief residence of the Matsumae clan and was built in 1606 by order of the Tokugawa Shogunate as a means for defending against the Ainu people of the north. Today, the grounds are a park where people can come and visit this historic monument.
Address: 144 Matsushiro, Matsumae, Matsumae District, Hokkaido 049-1511, Japan
Website: Matsumae Castle
Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)
Price: 5 USD
30. Wander along the picturesque trails of Onuma Quasi-National Park
Pack a camera and some good walking shoes because Onuma Quasi-National Park is a beautiful park that you’ll want to explore forever. Located on the western slope of the mountain, the park is full of ponds, lake, walking paths, and lush forests and greenery. The Onuma Quasi-National Park is stunning and certainly worth a visit if you’re looking to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city
Onuma Quasi-National Park
Address: １０２３−１ Onumacho, Nanae, Kameda District, Hokkaido 041-1354, Japan
Website: Onuma Quasi-National Park
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
Historic and beautiful Hakodate
Hakodate is a Japanese city with an interesting twist of East and West. The city is beautiful with old buildings and monuments from a bygone era that remind the people of the city of what their city once was and what it can be in the future. Old buildings turned into new modern museums and places of interest live next to modern establishments, all showcasing the best of life in Hakodate.
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