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Hakodate Guide: A 2 Day Itinerary to The Charming Port City

Ah, the joy of early morning adventures! My journey began in Sapporo, with a cup of strong coffee in hand and the promise of a day filled with new experiences. Let’s begin a recount of our trip and this Hakodate Guide! This charming port city located at the southern tip of Hokkaido is known for its rich history, vibrant markets, and stunning views, and I couldn’t wait to explore it all.

A Smooth but Long Train Ride

We boarded the train from Sapporo early in the morning, settling in for the 4+ hour journey to Hakodate. The ride was smooth and relatively quiet, allowing me to catch up on some work as the scenic landscapes of Hokkaido whizzed by. There’s something therapeutic about train rides – the rhythmic clatter of the tracks, the changing views, and the sense of anticipation as you inch closer to your destination.

Hakodate Morning Market: A Seafood Delight

Upon arriving in Hakodate, we stepped off the JR station and were immediately drawn to the bustling Hakodate Morning Market, just a stone’s throw away. This market is a seafood lover’s paradise, with stalls brimming with fresh catches from the nearby waters. We couldn’t resist stopping by for a bowl of Kaisen-don – a delicious rice bowl topped with an assortment of fresh sashimi. The taste was out of this world, with each bite bursting with the flavors of the ocean.

Hakodate Guide to seafood eats

Fort Goryokaku and Goryokaku Tower: A Glimpse into History

Next on our Hakodate guide, we hopped on a bus to visit Fort Goryokaku and the nearby Goryokaku Tower. Fort Goryokaku is a star-shaped fortress built in the mid-19th century during the final years of the Edo period. It was constructed by the Tokugawa shogunate to protect against northern threats and was the site of the last battle of the Boshin War. Today, it’s a beautiful park, especially stunning during cherry blossom season.

The Goryokaku Tower offers a bird’s-eye view of the star-shaped fort and the surrounding city. From the observation deck, we marveled at the unique design of the fort and the lush greenery that enveloped it. It was fascinating to imagine the historical events that had unfolded in this very spot.

Fort Goryokaku and Goryokaku Tower

Exploring Motomachi District: History and Culture

After our historical excursion, we took a tram towards Mt. Hakodate, planning to see the ropeway car climb the steep mountain. But first, we explored the Motomachi District, nestled at the mountain’s base. This area is known for its Western-style buildings and historical sites, a remnant of Hakodate’s time as one of Japan’s first international ports.

Hakodate street cars

We wandered through the charming streets, visiting several notable sites:

  • Hakodate Orthodox Church: This beautiful Russian Orthodox church, with its distinctive domes, stands as a testament to the influence of foreign cultures in Hakodate. The interior is equally impressive, with ornate decorations and a serene atmosphere.
  • Motomachi Catholic Church: Another architectural gem, this church features stunning stained glass windows and a peaceful garden.
  • Old British Consulate: Now a museum and tearoom, this building offers a glimpse into the life of British diplomats during Hakodate’s early days as an open port.
  • Hachimanzaka Slope: This steep slope provides a picturesque view down to the harbor, perfect for snapping photos and enjoying the scenic beauty of the district.
  • Old Public Hall: This beautiful structure was built by a wealthy citizen for public gatherings after half the city was lost due to the Great Fire of Hakodate in 1907.
Old Public Hall

Mt. Hakodate Ropeway and Stunning Views

As evening approached, we made our way to the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway. The ride up the steep mountainside in the ropeway car was exhilarating, offering panoramic views of the city and the surrounding sea. At the top, we were greeted by one of the most famous night views in Japan. The city lights twinkling against the dark backdrop of the ocean was a sight to behold – truly magical.

Scenic Views from Hakodate

Concluding the Day with Hakodate Ramen

To wrap up our day, we headed back down and sought out a local ramen shop for a hearty bowl of Hakodate ramen. This regional specialty features a clear, salt-based broth, typically topped with Hokkaido corn and butter. The combination was sublime, with the rich flavors of the broth perfectly complementing the sweet corn and creamy butter. It was the perfect comfort food to end our adventure on a high note.

Day 2 of our Hakodate Guide

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse: A Shopping Haven

A short walk from Motomachi brought us to the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse, a historic complex that has been transformed into a vibrant shopping and dining area. The warehouses, originally used for storing goods, now house boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants. We spent some time browsing the unique shops, picking up souvenirs, and enjoying the lively atmosphere.

Strolling the Dock Area: A Leisurely Break

After shopping, we headed to the nearby dock area. It was a peaceful spot to unwind, watching locals and tourists alike fishing along the docks. The gentle lapping of the waves and the sight of boats bobbing in the harbor made for a serene interlude in our busy day.

Koryuji Temple: A Tranquil Escape

Next, we visited Koryuji Temple, a serene Buddhist temple nestled in the heart of Hakodate. The temple grounds were beautifully maintained, with lush gardens and traditional architecture providing a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. It was a perfect place to relax and reflect.

Children’s World and Hakodate City Museum at Hakodate Park

To add a touch of whimsy to our day, we ventured to Hakodate Park, home to Children’s World and the Hakodate City Museum. Children’s World is a delightful playground and amusement area, perfect for families with young children. The Hakodate City Museum offered fascinating exhibits on the city’s history and culture, making it an educational stop for visitors of all ages.

Hakodate had offered a delightful mix of history, culture, and culinary delights, making the long train ride well worth it. If you ever find yourself in Hokkaido, don’t miss the chance to explore this charming city – it’s a journey you won’t forget. We hoped you enjoyed this 2 day itinerary and our Hakodate Guide! Contact us if you have any questions.

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