Hakodate is located on the island of Hokkaido, of which it is the 3rd largest city after Sapporo and Asahikawa. The history of the city is closely linked to its port, once the main gateway to the island of Hokkaido. Its port was one of the first in Japan to open up to the international market, with the ports of Yokohama and Kobe.
Hakodate is easily accessible from Tokyo by plane. There are several companies that fly directly to the city in an hour and a half. The Limited Express Hakucho train also connects Tokyo to Hakodate in 3 hours.
Spreading along a small strip of land, the city has an atypical charm. It is dominated by Mount Hakodate, which rises to an altitude of 334 m. You can go up to the top by cable car or on foot and admire the view of the whole city, famous for being one of the most beautiful in Japan, especially at night.
Due to its history and the opening of its port beyond Japan’s borders, Hakodate was a pioneer in cultural exchanges and is marked by a strong Western influence, with many foreign buildings, such as the wooden churches in the Motomachi district.
Not to be missed in Hakodate: Goryokaku Park, the only European-style fortress in Japan, built in 1864. It is magnificent during the cherry blossom season (it is said to have 1,660 cherry blossoms). In the park, there is also the Goryokaku Tower, which includes a 90 m high observatory with a magnificent view of the park and its surroundings. For museums, the Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples, which traces the lifestyle of the Ainu, the indigenous people who lived in the region ancestrally, will interest lovers of culture and history.
Hakodate is also known for its onsen, notably the Yachigashira Onsen located by the sea, which can accommodate 600 people, or the Yunokawa Onsen, the oldest onsen on the island of Hokkaido.
During a stay in Hakodate, tourists often explore the surrounding area, including the cities of Onuma and Nanae cho, located near the Onuma Natural Park at the foot of Mount Komagatake, and known for its mountain lakes (including Lake Onuma and Lake Konuma).
As for gastronomy, Hakodate’s specialities are based on seafood (giant crab, sea urchins, scallops, salmon and salmon eggs, squid…), especially donburi with seafood. All kinds of seafood can be found in the city’s huge fish market (Hakodate Asa-ichi). The region is also known for its milk production.