Hakodate City in Hokkaido
Hakodate City offers a diverse range of attractions besides the famous star-shaped fort Goryokaku, Mt. Hakodate and the famous Morning Market.
Today I want to introduce a few of those various spots of interest to you.
This is in front of JR Hakodate Station. From there you can walk to most attractions you’ll see in this post today.
Exploring Hakodate City
Just like Kobe and Nagasaki, Hakodate was among the first ports in Japan that opened to international trade.
That’s also the reason why we can find a lot of European / Western-style buildings there today.
Right next to the ocean you’ll see several red brick warehouses. They were built in the Meiji era and were remodeled into these buildings.
Nowadays they’re used as shopping center with several restaurants.
In the background you see Mt. Hakodate and the upper ropeway station / observation platform.
The best thing was that there was a nicely designed Starbucks that blended in well with the red brick warehouses colorwise.
Perfect timing for a little break. As it was still cherry blossom season in Hokkaido, they sold cherry blossom related products like the one above. It was really delicious!
There are many cute things to discover everywhere.
I loved those tiny cat statues in front of the warehouses, but even the sign that tells you to keep the city clean was cute!
In Hakodate you’ll also find the first concrete electricity pole that was ever set up.
There are a lot of colorful restaurants and foreign cuisine.
And then I ran into something I didn’t expect to find in Hokkaido: A Sakamoto Ryoma statue.
I guess I still have to learn a lot about Japanese history!
California Baby? *LOL*
I liked the building next to it with the cute bear that is actually an art museum!
In the background you see Mt. Hakodate again!
A very scenic photo of Hakodate with the cherry blossoms and the tram in the background.
As expected of Hokkaido you could find Ainu related things here and there.
In the Motomachi area where you’ll find a lot of Western-style buildings, I found the “Carl W. Raymon Memorial House” (カール・レイモン歴史展示館) which is in the second floor. In the first floor you can buy all sorts of delicious sausages!
Carl W. Raymond (1894-1987) has been making ham and sausages completely free of preservatives and additives in Hakodate. He was born in a region that belonged to Germany at that time.
That’s why you can find a lot of typical German sausages there, like white sausage. It is a bit expensive, though. In addition to purchasing these delights, you can sample sausages and sandwiches at the store cafeteria.
As many cities that opened their port for international trade early on such as Kobe or Nagasaki, Hakodate also has some churches.
The “Chachanobori Slope” is full of churches.
This is the biggest and most beautiful church in my opinion: The Russian Orthodox Church (ハリストス正教会).
From the church it’s only a short walk to the ropeway that will bring you up to Mt. Hakodate.
On the right you see the “Motomachi Roman Catholic Church” (元町カトリック教会).
That’s how the scenery looks on a fine day. Doesn’t look Japanese at all. If you showed me that photo I’d say it’s a city somewhere in Europe!
Saint Nikolai and another small church with a nice design.
It’s the “St. Johnis Church” (函館ヨハネ教会). The roof is shaped like a cross when viewed from above.
There are more things to discover in Motomachi (元町) such as the Old British Consulate which is open to the public as a memorial hall conveying the history behind the opening of Hakodate’s Port.
Another popular attraction is the Old Public Hall (旧公会堂), a European-style building which housed Hakodate’s government in the early 1900’s. There’s also the Higashi Honganji Temple (東本願寺) and the Foreign Cemetery (外国人墓地).
Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to visit those.
Here’s a shot taken from the entrance of the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway Station. In the background you can see the churches I visited earlier.
Just a few steps away from the ropeway station and the churches was this big shrine: Gokoku Shrine (護国神社）.
You’ll find a graveyard there which houses the remains of the imperial dead following the Battle of Hakodate, as well as the remains of the Choshu rebels that died in the Satsuma Rebellion – although their memorials are not open to the public.
The shrine also had a small hall featuring a huge variety of ema.
Among them were some really old and interesting ones.
This was a very interesting one – apparently released in the year of the snake (2013 will be the year of the snake again!), offering good luck and protection for many things such as success in school and safe driving.
This looks kind of scary.
Not too far from the shrine was “Hakodate Park” – a big park that was full of cherry blossom trees.
In the park were also a few small Western-style buildings and the City Museum.
You can either walk for a while or take the tram to get to Cape Tachimachi (立待岬).
The fence along the cape (in order for visitors not to fall down into the ocean, I guess) was really cute with squid images!
You can see the Tsugaru Strait and the area constantly faces strong winds. From the clifftop you can see the waves crashing against the rocks.
The view from the cape made it an important lookout spot for foreign ships back then.
Hokkaido is still very cold in May and with the strong winds it was pretty chilly up there.
On the left you see the stone that marks Cape Tachimachi. Not too far away from the nearest tram station was a small Hachimangu Shrine (函館八幡宮) that I visited on my way back from the cape.
It was about to get dark so there was nobody around at that time.
Just one woman praying in the typical shaped main building of a Hachimangu Shrine.
By the time I was back at the tram station it was already dark. I was off to JR Hakodate Station to leave Hokkaido again.
Stay tuned for the last few posts of my Golden Week Spring Vacation in Tohoku (and Hokkaido)!
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Events in Feb/Mar 2017:
- Feb 3: Setsubun (nationwide)
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- Feb 6-12: Sapporo Snow Festival
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- Feb 17-19: Tokamachi Snow Festival
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