If you are heading to Japan and want to explore some of the best natural sights that Japan has to offer then head to Hakodate City in Hokkaido for beautiful views and amazing seafood.
Hakodate is the third biggest city in Hokkaido and can be found at the southern tip of the island. One of the biggest attractions of Hakodate is its breathtaking natural scenery which attracts people from all over the world.
Hakodate also holds historic importance as it was one of the first ports to reopen to international trade after the period of isolation in Japan.
Due to this the area of Hakodate was open to international influence making it a melting pot of cultures and people, giving the city its own unique atmosphere.
There are a number of things to see and do in Hakodate, both for those who want a leisurely trip and enjoy dining out and relaxing as well as the adventure seekers who love to explore nature. In this article, we will take you through the best things to experience during your time in Hakodate.
No guide to Hakodate would be complete without mentioning Mount Hakodate, arguable the city’s most popular attraction and certainly a sight to behold.
This mountain stands at 334 meters (1095 feet) tall and offers some of the country’s most stunning views. The mountain is located at the southern tip of the peninsula and is covered in beautiful trees, making it an incredible area for nature and city-wide vistas.
However, the views from Mount Hakodate are not only breathtaking in the day but also at night. In fact, it has been named as one of the three best nighttime views in all of Japan.
Not only is the view worth the hike but there are a number of facilities at the top of the mountain to allow you to relax and truly enjoy your time on Mount Hakodate.
There are many viewing stations that are free to use as well as several souvenir shops and a restaurant.
If you are unable to hike to the top of the mountain then do not worry as there are also buses and a ropeway that transport passengers to the top of the mountain as well as routes for individual cars.
The ropeway costs 1000 Japanese yen for a one-way ticket or 1500 Japanese yen for a return ticket. The service runs from Motomachi district and returns every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m.
The bus costs 400 Japanese yen for a one-way ticket and runs every 30 minutes between Hakodate station and the top of the mountain.
Just north of Hakodate 12.4 miles (about 20 km) is Onuma park, which has been referred to as an unofficial national park. This amazing natural site is home to several lakes with islands as well as a volcano (Mount Komagatake).
Located between Hakodate and Sapporo, this park is perfectly located both for a day trip or as a stopover on the way between the two cities.
There are many designated walking routes throughout the park but perhaps the most beautiful, and the most popular, is the one that passes between the two main lakes (Onuma and Konuma). Here you can pass through the beautiful landscape, admire the trees and even catch a glimpse of the wildlife.
There are many walkways throughout the park that allow you to explore several islands as the park has a number of bridges that connect the peninsulas. The walking routes can range in length from 15 minutes to an hour.
You can also rent bikes to ride around the park, which is especially lovely in summer. You can either rent bikes by the hour (500 Japanese yen per hour) or by the day (1000 Japanese yen a day).
There is the main cycling route that runs around the park that is 6.2 miles or 10 km long but this closely follows a road rather than the shores of the lakes for the majority of the route.
In the summer it is also possible to take a boat ride through the lakes that last about half an hour and cost 1120 Japanese yen. These tours will tell you about nature and the park itself.
Additionally, there are even more activities that can be enjoyed in the park in the summer including canoeing, fishing, golf, tennis, and even camping.
Fort Goryokaku is Japan’s oldest western-style fort. It was built in the shape of a star in the Edo period to defend the city of Hakodate against Western imperialism.
A few years after it was built it was the location of a civil war between the shogunate army and troops of the Meiji government.
In the 1910s the area lost its military status and became a park. In order to accommodate this new role, over 1000 cherry trees were planted in the grounds lining the moats.
In the spring this is one the best places in the city to see the cherry trees blossom, typically in May.
Located in the center of the fort is the former Magistrate Office which is where the shogunate officers managed Hakodate from.
However, post the fall of the shogunate in 1871 the building was destroyed but thankfully it was carefully rebuilt by the council and reopened in 2010.
If you want to get one of the best views of the fort then you should head to the top of the Goryokaku Tower.
From here you will be able to clearly see the star formation of the fort and the beautiful landscape within it, giving you a fantastic view of the city as well.
Hakodate City Seafood Market
If you want to spend your time in Hakodate leisurely, taking in the best of the dining scene then you should head to the morning seafood market located near the JR Hakodate station.
The market starts at 5 a.m. and covers four blocks. However, in the winter the market will typically begin at 6 a.m. instead.
Here you can find all types of fresh seafood to cook yourself or dine in at one of the several restaurants on site.
You can find all types of seafood here, including sea urchins, fish eggs, and crab. However, you can even find other foods such as melons and other produce.
The local restaurants offer a wide range of locally-sourced seafood breakfast options so that you can try the best local produce without the hassle of preparing and cooking it yourself.
The shopping area
Down by the port, there are a number of red brick warehouses that were originally used for trading but have now been transformed into a complex for shopping, entertainment, and dining.
Here you can relax and enjoy your time in Hakodate while taking in the beautiful view of the port and getting in some retail therapy.
Here you can find a number of souvenir shops, trendy clothing shops, interior shops, and even sweet shops. However, there are some more interesting places on offer such as a beer hall and even a wedding chapel!
To get to the red brick shopping area you can either walk from Hakodate station, which will take you approximately 15 minutes, or you can walk from the Jujigai tram stop, which will only take you 5 minutes.