Once Hokkaido’s biggest city, Hakodate is the gateway to the rest of the island. As one of the first ports opened up after Japan’s isolation, the influence of foreign visitors can be seen and felt throughout the city. In this article, we’ll look at the heart of the city, explore some of its best attractions and even what influences it has over pop culture.
Hakodate Japan Defining Features
In the shadow of Mount Hakodate, Hakodate, Japan is a city with many cultures blended together giving the place a multicultural feel, with a slight Japanese twist. Hakodate was founded in 1454 when the head of a major Japanese family built a manor on the “Usukeshi”, the Ainu word for “bay”. Since then, the city has been the home of many international negotiations and conflicts for Japan.
An Overview of Hakodate
To give a brief overview of Hakodate as it is right now, the city is the third largest in Hokkaido and is located on the tip of the southernmost peninsula. In 2016, the Hokkaido Shinkansen started running between Shin-Aomori Station on Japan’s main island and currently ending at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, traveling through the Seikan Tunnel. The main form of transportation in the city is by tram and train via the JR network and the newly created South Hokkaido Railway Company.
Tourist Attractions in Hakodate
These travel options give visitors the option to visit some great Hakodate Japan tourist attractions. With the historic European district of Motomachi, tourists can see how foreign traders lived in the late 19th century. The Hakodate Morning Markets is also a popular attraction, where you can eat fresh Hokkaido foods. Mount Hakodate has an outstanding view, overlooking the entire city, that shouldn’t be missed when visiting the port city.
Stay in a Hakodate Hotel
Staying in a Hakodate hotel is a great way to relax while you travel around southern Hokkaido. The port town offers some wonderful places to stay for every budget level. The Hakodate Yunokawa Onsen Hotel Banso on the eastern side of the town is only a 30-minute tram ride away from Hakodate Station. With lovely public and private onsen baths, you’ll be able to have a relaxing time at this hotel. On the cheaper side, located only a few minutes-walk from Hakodate station, Hotel Tetora Hakodate Ekimae is best place to stay for access to the rest of the region.
The Hakodate Unit Carnival, The City’s Pop Culture Influence
Love Live! Sunshine’s Hakodate Unit Carnival is just one of many anime references to the city. The Hakodate Unit Carnival was a live concert performed in the city with the real-life idols that voice the characters in the wildly popular anime series. The gimmick of the concert was that the rival group to Aqours, Saint Snow, also performed alongside the main girls. The event occurred on 24th of October 2017 and can be seen on the official live Blu-Ray, released after the concert.
Quick Omiko Hakodate Trivia!
Other references include Omiko Hakodate, one of the characters from the hit anime series Kill la Kill. Other than her name, she doesn’t have anything else tying her to the city where her name comes from.
The Decisive Battle of Hakodate
One of the more famous conflicts in the city is the Battle of Hakodate. This was the decisive last battle in the Japanese revolution which lasted from 1868 to 1869. The remnants of the Tokugawa shogunate, formed into the Ezo republic, fought against the Imperial government under the rule of Emperor Meiji.
You can still see the impact the battle of Hakodate had on the city by visiting the Goryokaku. A fortress built by the shogunate in the style of a French architect and shaped like a five-point star. This was the site of the final battle in the war. Since then, the site has become the Hakodate City Museum where you can learn about the history of the area.
Wake Up for The Hakodate Morning Market
The Hakodate Morning Market is said to be fresher and more accessible for tourists than Tokyo’s now closed Tsukiji Fish Markets. You’ll be able to grab fresh fish, squid and other Hokkaido aquatic creatures.
The market opens up at 5:00 am every morning every day of the year, except for winter. In the wintertime, due to the colder weather in Hokkaido, the market opens up one hour later at 6:00 am. The market closes at 12:00 pm, keeping true to the name.
Unlike most other fish markets which operate out of warehouses, the Hakodate Morning Market operates over 4 cities blocks, with 250 different shops taking part every morning. If you want to eat, rather than cook, restaurants in the area use ingredients bought that morning to serve up for breakfast and lunch.
Jet to Hokkaido via the Hakodate Airport
The city operates Hakodate Airport, located 30 minutes away from Hakodate Station by bus. The airport mainly operates domestic routes between Osaka and Tokyo, but has some seasonal international routes going to and from Hangzhou and Taipei in China.
Getting to and from the airport is simple if you take the Limousine Bus from Hakodate Station. You are able to watch flights come and go from either the observation deck on the third floor of the domestic terminal, or by visiting Restaurant Pollux on the same floor, letting you much down while planes take off.
- Spot name: Hakodate Airport
- Street address: 511 Takamatsucho, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido 042-0952
- Access: A 20-minute bus ride from Hakodate Station