Covered in soft white powdery snow in Hakodate winter. The whole town is filled with a special atmosphere which is calming but still festive. Home to the beautiful sceneries, historical sites, hot springs and delicious local food. It continues to inspire visitors from all over the world with its natural beauty that goes hand in hand with its historical urban charm.

About Hakodate Winter

It begins with some snowy days around mid- November, by January and February the whole city will be in white covered in snow. The best time to experience Hakodate winter will be the months from December to February as it features all the winter festivals of Hakodate. Soft powdery snow falls from the sky over the illuminated buildings and roadside trees.

Hakodate Winter Festival

The exotic streets of Hakodate are all lit up colored with illumination of about 50,000 lights. For several years Hakodate winter festival 2016 to Hakodate winter festival 2018, the festival has been the talk around the whole Japan. The trees planted on the sloping streets such as Hachimanzaka and Nijukkenzaka are all outlined with bright lights. As the winter night falls and the snow piled up on the ground, they appear to glitter more brightly. The trees are lit from 5pm to 10pm daily, the landmarks such as the Old Public Hall, churches and the bay area.

Event Information

  • Name: Hakodate winter festival
  • Address: 15 Omachi Hakodate Hokkaido 040-0052( Motomachi and Parts of the Hakodate city)

Onuma Hakodate Snow and Ice Festival

The festival is held on February 9th and 10th in 2019 at Onuma Quasi National Park. It is an annual event with many snow sculptures similar to the Sapporo Snow Festival. The highlight of this festival is the gigantic ice slide made of lake water which is so smooth that one can slide down without using a sled. On the day of the event, ice carving, dances and other local performing arts are held too.

Event Information

  • Name: Onuma Hakodate Snow and Ice Festival
  • Address: Onuma Quasi National Park
  • Access: 5 minutes walk from Onuma Quasi National Park Station

Things to do in Hakodate Winter

One of the best Hakodate winter attractions is the walking tour Hakodate on winter. Starts with The Edo Period Fort Goryokaku which was constructed in the mid 1800s to defend the city against the threat of imperialist powers. To get there, get on the Hakodate City Tram for the 20 to 30 minutes ride from Hakodate Eki-mae Station to Goryokaku-mae Station or Keisatsusho-mae Station, Fort Goryokaku will be just minutes’ walk from the stations. The best view of the impressivestar-shaped fort is from the upper observation deck at the top of Goryokaku Tower.

Next, hop on the tram and get down on Jujigai Tram Stop, from there walk a few minutes to the northwest towards the bay and you will find yourself enjoying the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses. As one of the first cities in Japan to open up to foreign trade after Japan’s self-imposed period of isolation ended in the 1850s, Hakodate Port was one of Japan’s first international trading ports. Many of the historical buildings from that time have been well preserved including the Kanemori Warehouse, the row of renovated redbrick warehouses in Hakodate, they have witnessed many different periods of history. Although today they no longer serve their original purpose, their interior is filled with retro shopping and entertainment complex.

As the night falls, get up to the summit of Mt. Hakodate with Hakodateyama Ropeway which depart every 15 minutes. Believe me, it is going to be worth it. As you reach the summit, gaze upon the top three-night views in Japan, a truly spectacular view and it is even three Michelin stars rated. The sparkling multi-colored lights below make a unique hourglass shape due to Hakodate’s location on a peninsula with water on the either side. The view is said to be at its best peak at around 30 minutes after sunset.

Bus in Hakodate on Winter time

One of the best transportation options when you are visiting Hakodate is buses, as buses will get you direct access to the various tourist spots around Hakodate. The bus information kiosk is conveniently located in front of Hakodate Station where you can check on the best bus route for your destination or you could straight hop on the shuttle bus departing from Hakodate Station which will take you to Mt. Hakodate Ropeway, the Goryokaku Tower and the Trappistine Convent. Another option is getting on the “Motomachi and Bay-area Shuyu-go” bus which operates on a continuous loop between Hakodate Station and the Bay Area.