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Hakodate Travel Guide

Things to do in Hakodate
Mount Hakodate

During our tour of Japan, we arrived in Hakodate on our cruise ship Volendam. The ship docked some way out of town so we had to take a shuttle bus into the centre. I didn’t notice much in the way of alternatives such as taxis so it is something to bear in mind if you’re stopping here on a cruise. Obviously, you can book a cruise line excursion but we like to explore on our own wherever possible. Not only is it cheaper, but we think it’s more fun too. With that in mind, I’ll take you through what we found to see and do here so you have a list of things to do in Hakodate when you visit.

Hakodate is on the island of Hokkaido. In fact, it’s the third-largest city on the island and it’s one of the most popular spots for tourists. This is mainly due to the fantastic views from Mount Hakodate although you can also get amazing seafood here.

Things to do in Hakodate View from the top of the cable car
Things to do in Hakodate
View from the top of the cable car

Things to do in Hakodate

Red Brick Warehouses

Things to do in Hakodate Red Brick Warehouses
Red Brick Warehouses

Firstly, we were dropped out right outside the Kanemori red-brick warehouses near the Hakodate waterfront. While you’re here pop inside to find shops and restaurants which are all aimed at tourists. If you want to pick up some souvenirs from Hakodate then this is the place to look.

As well as shopping you will find an information centre here and also free wifi and public toilets. I was surprised just how much was packed inside so it is well worth popping in. Indeed, you can buy everything from hand made chopsticks to beer and sweets.

Morning Market

If you like seafood then you will want to head to Hakodate Market. It is located right next to the station and it was particularly popular with some of our fellow cruise passengers. You can buy all sorts of things here, not just seafood but remember to visit early in the morning as it tends to close by midday.

Mount Hakodate

Ropeway on Mount Hakodate
Ropeway on Mount Hakodate

We decided to head for the cable car first so we walked a bit further uphill to the cable car station. From here we then got a cable car to the top. In fact, the Japanese call them ropeways, not cable cars but I’ll use both interchangeably.

Ropeway on Mount Hakodate
Ropeway on Mount Hakodate

The ropeway or cable car, as shown above, takes you to the top of Mount Hakodate. It is more hill than mountain really but has some fantastic views from the top. Once up there you can clearly see that Hakodate is on a peninsular and you can see both bays which is pretty impressive.

View across Hakodate
View across Hakodate
Things to do in Hakodate View across the bay
View across the bay

You can also take a bus to the top of Mount Hakodate or drive if you have a car if you don’t want to take the ropeway. I love the views as you go up and down the cable car so we do tend to use them if they are available. I think they’re an attraction in themselves although the views from Mount Hakodate are definitely the star attraction here.

Mount Hakodate Ropeway: Practical Information

Fees:
1280 Yen (£9) Return
780 Yen (£5.50) One Way

Nearest tram stop: Jujigai

Motomachi

Things to do in Hakodate Motomachi
Church in Motomachi

Afterwards, we took the cable car down again and walked through the district of Motomachi. Located at the foot of Mount Hakodate, Motomachi is especially interesting and full of old and restored buildings. We spent quite a while exploring this area.

Old Public Hall

Things to do in Hakodate Old Public Hall
Old Public Hall

Indeed, one of the interesting things about the area of Motomachi is the European influence on the buildings. In fact, this is due to Hakodate being one of the earliest Japanese ports to open up to international trade. The old Public Hall for instance, is a great example of the mix of Japanese and European styles. It was also an important building, used for entertaining foreign dignitaries. Moreover, it is still used for various functions today.

Things to do in Hakodate Old Public Hall
Old Public Hall

Old Public Hall: Practical Information

Fees:
300 Yen (£2)

Opening Hours:
April to October: 9 am to 7 pm
November to March 9 am to 5 pm

Nearest Tram Stop:
Suehiro-Cho

Former British Consolute

Things to do in Hakodate Former British Consulate
Former British Consulate

It’s always interesting to find buildings related to the Uk when we travel and we found this former British Consolate in Motomachi district. In fact, it was the British Consulate from 1913 to 1934. Today, it’s a historic building but it also has a tea room which is rather appropriate as it brings together the great passion of both Japanese and British.

Former British Consulate
Former British Consulate

Former British Consulate: Practical Information

Fees:
300 Yen (£2)

Opening Hours:
April to October: 9 am to 7 pm
November to March 9 am to 5 pm

Nearest Tram Stop:
Suehiro-Cho

Hakodate St John’s Church

Hakodate St John's Church
Hakodate St John’s Church

This striking building is the Anglican church of St John. The Anglican church in Hakodate was founded in the late 19th century but this modern building was erected in 1979.

St John’s Church: Practical Information

Fees: Free

Opening Hours:
May to November
10 am to 4 pm (except during services)

Nearest Tram Stop:
Suehiro-Cho

Russian Orthodox Church

Things to do in Hakodate Motomachi
Russian Orthodox Church

Another building which owes its existence to international travel to Hakodate is the Russian Orthodox Church. This small but beautiful church was brought to Hakodate by the Russian Consulate in the late 19th century.

Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church

Russian Orthodox Church: Practical Information

Fees: 200 Yen (£1.50)

Opening Hours:
Open Mid-March to November
Weekdays: 10 am to 5 pm
Saturdays: 10 am to 4 pm
Sundays: 1 pm to 4 pm
(Closed during services)

Nearest Tram Stop:
Suehiro-Cho

Roman Catholic Church

Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church

While you explore Hakodate you will find churches of different faiths. This pretty Roman Catholic church was built in the early twentieth century. Once inside, the altar and the tall white arched ceilings are the main attractions.

Roman Catholic Church: Practical Information

Fees: Free

Opening Hours:
10 am to 4 pm (except during services)

Nearest Tram Stop:
Suehiro-Cho

Statue Park

Statues in Motomachi
Statues in Motomachi

As you walk around the Motomachi area of Hakodate you will also find lots of different statues. For instance, this little park is full of bronze statues of all shapes and sizes. Indeed, wherever you go in Hakodate you will see statues and they’re an attractive and interesting addition to the area.

Statues in Motomachi
Statues in Motomachi
Statues in Motomachi
Statues in Motomachi

Particularly interesting is this statue, shown in the photo below which is a memorial to Admiral Perry. He led a peaceful squadron of five black ships which visited Hakodate in 1854 and is thus considered a key player in opening up Japan to international trade with the USA. In fact, the statue was erected to mark the 150th anniversary of his visit.

Statues in Motomachi
Statues in Motomachi

So hopefully, my adventures will give you some ideas of the things to do in Hakodate. I’d like to spend more time here in the future and also explore more widely in Hokkaido. One day on a cruise stop was a lovely introduction to the city but not long enough to really get to know it.

As you know, this was a stop during our journey from Japan to Canada, a trans-Pacific cruise which was the first ocean crossing of our trip around the world without flying. So catch up with all the other posts on this trip by clicking on any of the image links in the gallery below.

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Hakodate is a port city on the southern tip of Hokkaido Island in Japan. A popular tourist city, Hakodate also welcomes international cruise passengers. Use our Travel Guide and find the top things to do in Hakodate, Japan. #Japan #Hakodate #Hokkaido