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Hakodate (函館) is a port city in Southern Hokkaidō, Japan. Separated by the 20-km long Tsugaru Strait (津軽海峡) from Honshu, Japan's main island, the city has naturally been seen as an entrance to Hokkaido. Like Kanazawa and Nagasaki, Hakodate is one of the hidden gems of Japanese tourism. Everyone should see Kyoto and Tokyo, because they're amazing cities. But Japanese domestic tourists, having done those cities before, come in droves to some places that international tourists may not have heard of and appreciate the fabulous food, culture and history of some of Japan's lesser known cities. Hakodate should not be missed on a trip to Hokkaido.

Understand[edit]

Rebels in the north

The Republic of Ezo (蝦夷共和国 Ezo Kyōwakoku) was a short-lived breakaway state of Japan with its capital at Hakodate.

After the defeat of the forces of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the Boshin War (1868-1869), a part of the Shogun's navy led by Admiral Enomoto Takeaki fled to the northern island of Ezo (now known as Hokkaidō). On 25 December 1868, the Ezo Republic declared its independence, and elected Enomoto as its president.

However, Imperial forces soon consolidated their hold on mainland Japan, and in May 1869 dispatched a fleet to Ezo. With no prospect of victory, Enomoto decided to destroy his arms, and on 18 May 1869, the Republic surrendered without a fight and accepted the Meiji Emperor's rule. Enomoto was sentenced to a brief prison sentence, but was freed in 1872 and accepted a post as a government official in the newly renamed Hokkaidō Land Agency.

Hakodate is on the southern tip of Southern Hokkaidō (道南), the northernmost major island of Japan. As one of the first cities in Japan to be opened to trade, like Yokohama and Kobe, there are some signs of foreign influence in Hakodate, notably architecture.

Hakodate used to be the largest settlements of explorers of the Hokkaido Island through and after the Meiji era, following the few years of the Republic of Ezo since 1868 (see box). The city-wide fire in 1934 significantly reduced its influence and population with many moving north. However, as of 2022, it is still the third largest city in the island with a population of roughly 280,000, surpassed only by Sapporo and Asahikawa.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Hakodate Airport (HKD IATA 函館空港), 〒042-0952 北海道函館市高松町511 (on the exit of Prefectural Road 63; follow the oval and on the left side), +81 138-57-8881. First daily departure: 07:35 AM; Last daily departure: 19:50 PM. Hakodate is connected with direct flights from Tokyo (Haneda), Osaka (Itami) and Nagoya (Centrair) by JAL and ANA, as well as Taipei (Taoyuan) by Tigerair Taiwan. ANA’s sister airline Air Do flies to Nagoya and Tokyo for slightly cheaper. JAL's regional airline Hokkaido Air System flies propeller planes to Sapporo's centrally-located Okadama airport, and to Okushiri. ¥500 to Hakodate Station. Hakodate Airport (Q1155685) on Wikidata Hakodate Airport on Wikipedia

Public transport to and from the airport is served mainly by buses. There are buses to and from Hakodate Station as well as major tourist destinations, such as the Onuma Quasi-National Park and Goryōkaku Park.

By train[edit]

JR Hakodate Station, in the center of the city
Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, the northernmost terminal of Japan's bullet train network

JR trains run from Honshu to Hokkaido via the Seikan Tunnel (青函トンネル). With a total length of 53.85 km (33.49 mi) and a 23.3-km (14.5-mi) section under the waters of the Tsugaru Strait. The Seikan Tunnel is the world's longest undersea tunnel, and the world's second longest railway tunnel (surpassed in 2016 by the Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland). Shinkansen services began running through the Seikan Tunnel in March 2016, connecting Hakodate to cities including Aomori, Morioka, Sendai and Tokyo.

Hakodate has two major train stations:

  • Hakodate Station (函館駅) is downtown and served by conventional trains.
  • Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station (新函館北斗駅) is 18 km north of Hakodate Station and is the northernmost terminal for the shinkansen.

Both stations are connected in 15-20 minutes by local services, including the Hakodate Liner (はこだてライナー) shuttle trains which are timed to connect with Shinkansen services.

From Tokyo it takes approximately 4½ hours to reach Hakodate using the Hayabusa Shinkansen service and the Hakodate Liner. A one-way trip costs ¥23,010 in standard class, and is fully covered by the national Japan Rail Pass. However, if you wish to use Gran Class with a Japan Rail Pass, you must pay the Shinkansen express charge and the Gran Class surcharge. With the Shinkansen expanding north to Sapporo, the new mayor of Hakodate is considering a plan to attach a Shinkansen car that splits from the Sapporo-bound train in Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto to directly serve Hakodate Station. If enacted, the direct Shinkansen service will be available around 2030.

If you are just traveling between Tokyo and Hokkaido, consider the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass, which is slightly cheaper than the national pass (¥26,000 for advance purchase). This pass covers travel from Tokyo to Hakodate, and also covers express trains from Hakodate to Sapporo. It can be used on any 6 days within a 14-day period. Unlike the national pass, however, the JR East-South Hokkaido Pass only comes in one version for standard class travel.

Both Hakodate and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto stations offer service to Sapporo on the Hokuto (北斗) limited express service (3½ hours, ¥8,830).

Seishun 18 Ticket[edit]

Since the Seishun 18 Ticket does not allow travel using bullet trains, users who want to go to Hakodate from Honshu must purchase a separate option ticket for ¥2300. The special ticket allows trips in any available standard class seat on Hokkaido Shinkansen trains between Okutsugaru-Imabetsu (the last bullet train stop in Honshu) and Kikonai (the first such stop on Hokkaido). It also covers travel on the private Isaribi Line between Kikonai and Goryokaku, where the rest of the local JR network can be accessed. You must be in possession of a valid Seishun 18 Ticket to purchase and use the option ticket.

Trains to areas outside of Hakodate leave infrequently (compared to areas like Tokyo where trains come every few minutes) so plan ahead.

By boat[edit]

Hakodate's main ferry terminal is 4 km from the center and reachable on buses 1 and 19; a direct shuttle is also available between the ferry terminal and train station.

Seikan Ferry and Tsugaru Kaikyo Ferry operate ferry services from Hakodate's port to Aomori with multiple departures daily. Trips take 3 hr 45 min. One way fares are cheapest on the Seikan Ferry, ¥1600 for a carpet space. The Tsugaru Kaikyo's Blue Dolphin ferry offers several classes of service, from standard carpet space (¥2220 one-way) up to a suite with two beds and an in-room shower and toilet (¥4940 one-way) and a luxurious suite that adds a living room (¥12,340 one-way). Note that during peak travel periods, these fares are higher.

Tsugaru Kaikyo also operates to Ōma on the remote Shimokita Peninsula, with two daily round-trips. Fares start at ¥1810 for second class and ¥2220/2460 for a reserved seat. Travel time is 1 hr 40 min.

Cars and motorcycles can also be carried on the Hakodate-Oma ferry, and on some of the Hakodate-Aomori ferries.

Tsugaru Kaikyo offers online booking of all of their ferry services in English through a third party. Fares are paid in euros and reservations are confirmed within 48 hours of booking. They also offer checked baggage service for an extra fee.

Get around[edit]

Hakodate has a useful two-line streetcar network connected to the train station. Fares work similarly to medium-distance buses in other cities: take a ticket when you board, then pay as you get off based on the number on your ticket. If you are going to take the streetcar more than twice a day, it is advisable to buy a one-day pass from the driver when you get off (¥600). A combination bus/streetcar pass is also available (one day ¥1000, two days ¥1700). Each pass comes with a map of the stops. Children are half off of those prices, rounded up to the nearest ¥10.

Nationwide IC cards can be used in Hakodate, but using cash or the locally-supported ICOCA gives a ¥160 discount for bus or bus-tram transfers. Mention 乗り換え (norikae) followed by name of the next destination to the driver as you alight. This adds ¥50 to the current trip, but the first ¥210 of the next trip is free (automatically with ICOCA, or special ticket with cash that can be used on the next trip.). This discount is only available in select stops: 湯の川 (Yunokawa/Yukura Shrine), 深堀町 (Fukabori), 五稜郭公園前 (Goryokaku Park), and 函館駅 (Hakodate Station) and only applies if the transfer is made in less than two hours.

When paying in cash, make sure to pay in exact amount as no change is provided. Use the 両替 machine next to the ticket box to swap coins or ¥1000 bills to smaller denominations. Other bills and the new (silver with gold ring) ¥500 coins cannot be swapped by the machine, and must be swapped with the driver.

The streetcar's one-day pass can also be bought at the tourists information center inside the JR Hakodate Station. When purchasing a one-day pass, make sure to check out the attached list of discount shops since it may come handy in your tour. (As of December 2007, a 10% discount was provided for the Hakodate Ropeway and the Goryōkaku Tower).

There are two streetcar routes, namely Route 2 (pink), and Route 5 (blue). Both routes runs from 湯の川 (Yunokawa) roughly east to west until it branches in 十字街 (Jūjigai). The route is as follows:

Route 2 Route 5
湯の川 (Yunokawa)
湯の川温泉 (Yunokawa-onsen)
函館アリーナ前 (Hakodate-arīna-mae)
駒場車庫前 (Komabashako-mae)
競馬場前 (Keibajō-mae)
深堀町 (Fukabori-chō)
柏木町 (Kashiwagi-chō)
杉並町 (Suginami-chō)
五稜郭公園前 (Goryōkaku-kōen)
中央病院前 (Chuō-byōin-mae)
千代台 (Chiyodagai)
堀川町 (Horikawa-chō)
昭和橋 (Shōwa-bashi)
千歳町 (Chitose-chō)
新川町 (Shinkawa-chō)
松風町 (Matsukaze-chō)
函館駅前 (Hakodate-eki-mae)
市役所前 (Shiyakushō-mae)
魚市場通 (Uoichiba-dōri)
十字街 (Jūjigai-chō)
宝来町 (Hōrai-chō) 末広町 (Suehiro)
青柳町 (Aoyagi-chō) 大町 (Ōmachi)
谷地頭 (Yachigashira) 函館どっく前 (Hakodate-dokku-mae)

Note that the 五稜郭公園前 (Goryōkaku Park) streetcar stop and the 五稜郭駅 (JR Gōryokaku Station) are far apart despite its similar name, and should not be mistaken for one another. The former is useful for visiting the nearby Goryōkaku Park and/or Tower, the latter for train connections northward with the JR lines, or southward to Makomanai with the privately-owned Isaribi Line.

Additionally, there is the はこだて 電車・バス沿線名所・史跡マップ (Hakodate Densha-Basuensenmēshō-Shiseki Mappu), Hakodate’s Public Transport Tourist Spots Map. It is free and has a physical map of all the stops as well as many of the attractions. The Hakodate Guide Map is also provided free of charge at both the JR Tourist Information Counter and in the Museum of Photographic History's Tourist Information located in front of the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward.

Four Points by Sheraton Hakodate is a 2-minute walk from JR Hakodate station which has new Panasonic electric bicycles for hire. The rate is ¥1000 for 3 hours. You may hire these bicycles even if you're not a guest.

See[edit]

View from Mount Hakodate at night
  • 1 Mount Hakodate (函館山 hakodate-yama, 334m) (A ropeway will take you up for ¥780/1280 one-way/return. There are also buses (by Hakodate Bus) from platform 4 of the main bus station in front of Hakodate Station in summer season (mid-April to mid-November). A trip back and forth will cost ¥400 each, however, the Day Pass is valid, making it a great deal! The bus frequently stops at stunning points along its venture up - this can be important as the top station is often covered in clouds.). Offers spectacular views of the city of Hakodate in clear weather and offers, according to locals, one of the three best night views of not merely Japan but the entire world (the other claimants being Naples and Hong Kong). The busiest time is during sunset, so if you plan to take a sunset photograph, be ready to arrive early and claim your spot... and be prepared for a 40-minute waiting queue to catch the cable car back from the summit. Ropeway: ¥780/1280 one-way/return; Bus: ¥400 return or included in Day Pass.
Fort Goryōkaku from observation tower
  • Fort Hakodate Ruins (函館要塞跡). Fort Hakodate, also known as Tsugaru Fort (津軽要塞), is located on Mount Hakodate. This was a World War II battery (though it predates World War II as a fort) which now has been recreated with camping tables where the air batteries used to be. From the upper ropeway station, use the lower exit on the left of the arrival/departure deck and follow the stairs downward to a second parking lot. There you'll see a sign of the west battery, just follow the path. For the east and south battery you have to hike or take a car there.
  • 2 Fort Goryōkaku (五稜郭) (Streetcar Goryōkaku-kōen-mae (五稜郭公園前) stop). A star-shaped fort, a symbolic site to the city itself. Completed in 1864, this was Japan's first Western-style fortress and finished just in time for it to be occupied by the Ezo Republic as their headquarters. It never saw any action though, as the rebels surrendered peacefully. Most of the fort was consequently demolished and this is now a large park and popular cherry-blossom spot in spring. The fort also houses a small museum with exhibits on local history (rotating each year). (JR Goryōkaku station is not near to Goryōkaku. Tram or bus are recommended.)
  • 3 Goryōkaku Tower (五稜郭タワー) (Streetcar Goryōkaku-kōen-mae (五稜郭公園前) stop nearby Fort Goryōkaku (五稜郭)). From the 90-meter viewing platform you can get a striking view of the star-shaped fort. Neat dioramas tell the story of the Enomoto and Ezo Republic (see sidebox), and the role of the fort in Hakodate's history; an English pamphlet is available. The views from Goryōkaku Tower is different on each season. In spring, you can enjoy seeing 1,600 cherry blossoms and the view from the tower is a best place to see them. However, it takes at least 3 hours to go up the tower in cherry blossom season because of the crowds. In summer, you can enjoy full green trees, and in fall you can enjoy the changing leaves. In winter, Goryōkaku is covered with snow and is illuminated at night. Adults ¥900, child & group discounts.
European influences within Hakodate
  • 4 Motomachi (元町) (Near the foot of Mount Hakodate, all the way up to Kōrūjimae (高龍寺前)). This is the historical district. One popular attraction is the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward (旧函館区公会堂 Kyū-hakodateku-kōkai-dō), a European-style building which housed Hakodate's government in the early 1900s. The various churches and consulates in the area, dating to the early days of foreign trade with Japan, are also frequented by tourists. There is a pleasant walk up going from the Higashi Honganji Temple (東本願寺函館別院 higashi-honganji-hakodate-betsuin) all the way up to the Foreign Cemetery (外国人墓地 gaikokujin-bochi). On your way you will pass the Russian Orthodox Church, the Our Lady Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church (worth a look inside; the door on the side of the main front door isn't locked, it's just heavy and visitors are welcome), the Episcopal Church as well as the old British Consulate, the Old Public Hall, the Old Russian Consulate, as well as other temples in the vicinity of the cemetery. There is also the Gokoku Shrine which houses the remains of the imperial dead following the Battle of Hakodate, as well as the remains of the Choshu rebels that died in the Satsuma Rebellion, although their memorials are not open to the public.
  • Kōzen Temple (興禅寺), Kameo. This was built in 1954. This temple is "Soto Zen", a sect of Buddhism. The temple is a popular place for locals to honour their ancestors. Moreover, you can feel season. In the fall, you can enjoy seeing colored leaves. There are red tree and yellow tree. They are very beautiful. And also, you can see snow in winter.
  • Ooyamazumi shrine (大山祇神社), Kameo. This shrine is surrounded by trees. And also, there is a river behind. This name is "Shiodome river." Therefore, there are a lot of nature. Then, the festival is held in August 13th and 14th every year. People in Kameo are looking forward to going to this. In this festival, Japanese drums is played by people. Japanese drums is called "Taiko" in Japanese. "Taiko" is Japanese traditional instrument. Though the festival is very small, you can see Japanese traditional things.
  • 5 Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses (金森赤レンガ倉庫 Kanemori Akarenga Sōko) (Streetcar Jūjigai (十字街) stop). These warehouses built at the end of the Meiji era now house a variety of commercial facilities, as well as restaurants serving seafood. There is also the first concrete electricity pole of Japan located near there, which seems to attract the interest of Japanese tourists. A night view of Hakodate can be seen from The Blue Moon bay cruise, located at the vicinity of the red brick warehouses. The area is especially nice for a night time walk as the buildings are lit up and the area is very atmospheric, especially in winter.
  • 6 Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples (函館市北方民族資料館), 21-7 Suehiro-cho (On the main road, along the streetcar line, towards Motomachi. Its in a building on the corner that looks like an old bank.), +81 0138 22 4128, . Apr-Oct 9:00-17:00, Nov-Mar 9:00-17:00. Worth a look to gain an understanding of the Ainu, the indigenous people of northern Japan. Ainu culture is rich and fascinating but has historically been forgotten in Japan. A fair number of signs and labels are translated to English and an English pamphlet is available. Adults ¥300, combination ticket with other museums available.
  • 7 Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden (函館市熱帯植物園), 3 Chome-1-15 Yunokawacho (take the streetcar to Yunokawa-Onsen station and follow the Same river to the shore), +81 0138 57 7833. Apr-Oct 9:30-18:00, Nov-Mar 9:30-16:30. An English pamphlet is available, but most plant labels are in Japanese only. All plants are located in a greenhouse; various banana palms, coffee, hibiscus (lovely flower in autumn) and cacti grow here amongst many others. Even though this is a botanical garden, they have monkeys with a hot tub, parakeets, beetles and turtles. Especially the monkeys seem to attract a lot of Japanese fans, though their cage looks a bit dull. It's possible to buy monkey food pellets for ¥100. Additionally, there's a playground, small track with bumper cars and a shallow pool for kids in the back. And as if that's not enough already, a foot bath is located on the right side just after the entry gate. adults ¥300, school children ¥100.
  • 8 Seikan Ferry Memorial Museum Mashu-maru (函館市青函連絡船記念館摩周丸), 12, Wakamatsucho (from JR Hakodate station, walk past the morning market and you will see the ship on the shore), +81 0138 27 2500. Apr-Oct 8:30-18:00, Nov-Mar 9:00-17:00. Museum telling the history of the Aomori-Hakodate ferry, on an old ferry itself. Signs are only partially translated to English, but some parts of the exhibition are surprisingly interactive. Go up to the bridge and feel like a captain! ¥500.

Do[edit]

  • Port Festival (函館港まつり Hakodate Minato Matsuri). annually from August 1st to 5th. This is Hakodate's biggest carnival and known for very unique Hakodate Squid Dance (函館いか踊り Hakodate Ika-odori) in its parade Wassyoi Hakodate (ワッショイはこだて Wasshoi Hakodate). The parade is normally in the 2nd and 3rd day (2nd day: Jujigai to Matsukaze-cho, 3rd day: Horikawa-cho to Goryokaku). Also there are a fireworks event in 1st day. (Please note that this schedule may be changed because of the weather.)
  • Hakodate Christmas Fantasy, +81-138-27-3535. annually December 1 to 25. A giant Christmas tree is displayed floating on the sea in the red-brick warehouses (金森赤レンガ倉庫群) area during the festival each year. Lighting-up events with fireworks are held every night. This Christmas trees are presented by Halifax, Canada every year.
  • Kameo Agriculture Village (Kameo Fureai no Sato), Kameo. Here you can experience agriculture. Everyone can enjoy this place. You can sow seeds and plant vegetables. For example, you can grow strawberries, rice, buckwheat and sweet potato. After the food developed, you can harvest it. You can also pick cherries there. The adult rate is ¥400, and the rate for children is ¥200.
  • Hakodate Nanae Snowpark (函館七飯スノーパーク hakodate nanae sunōpāku), Kameo. A mid-sized ski resort adjacent to Lake Onuma and accessible by bus from Onuma Station. Features 2 chairlifts and a gondola as well as a rental shop.
  • 1 Yachigashira Hot Springs (谷地頭温泉), 20-7 Yachigashira-cho (谷地頭町20-7) (5 minute walk from the Yachigashira (谷地頭) tram stop. This is stop is only on route 2.). 06:00-22:00, last entry at 21:00; closed every second Tuesday of the month and occasionally on the fourth too. A hot spring near Mount Hakodate. This is muddy hot spring as opposed to the clear hot spring at the Yunokawa Hot Springs on the other end of the tram line. Most users are local residents of Hakodate. A cafeteria is on site. Soap and towels are available for an extra fee. Free parking available. ¥420 for an adult, additional charge for other services.
  • 2 Yunokawa Onsen Footbath (湯の川温泉 足湯), 1 Chome-16 Yunokawacho (close to Yunokawa-Onsen tram station). 9:00-21:00. A free foot bath with multi-lingual information signs about the history of the place. The water temperature is pretty hot, it takes a little time to get used to it. Bring a towel to dry off your feet after the bath, or just let them air-cool otherwise. free.

Buy[edit]

  • 1 Morning Market (朝市 asa-ichi) (Near the JR Station and the streetcar Hakodate Eki-mae (函館駅前) stop.). Crammed into a couple of bayfront buildings, rows of vendors sell a variety of seafood, but the main attraction is the huge selection of Hokkaidō's famous crabs. Open 5:00 (6:00 in the winter) until noon. Next to the market are a number of restaurants, most of which specialize in seafood-topped donburi (rice bowl).
  • Glasswares and musicboxes can be bought at the old Meijikan Post Office (明治館 meiji-kan). Meijikan is near the vicinity of the red brick warehouses (akarenga) and the Hakodate Beer Hall. Get off at the streetcar's jujigai (十字街) stop.

Retail[edit]

Department stores[edit]

From September 2023, Marui Imai and Share Star will be the only department stores in Hakodate as TO will close shops by the end of August 2023.

  • Marui Imai (丸井今井) is directly next to Goryokaku Park streetcar stop. Marui Imai is the most popular and oldest department store company in Hokkaido. They are also available in Sapporo.
  • Share Star (シエスタ) is directly across Marui Imai and is the more modern of the two. Starbucks, JINS, and MUJI are available here, as well as a public community space on the fourth floor.

Convenience stores[edit]

Convenience stores are also popular with tourists.

  • Seicomart is a convenience store chain that is almost exclusively available in Hokkaido. It sells many Hokkaido-specific foods and knick-knacks.
  • Hasegawa Store (ハセガワストア or ハセスト for short) is a convenience store chain only available in the Hakodate area. They are well known for yakitori bento (やきとり弁当). It is a grilled pork-skewer lunch set despite yakitori (grilled chicken) in the name, though actual yakitori are also available.

Drug stores[edit]

  • Tsuruha Drug (ツルハドラッグ) is a drug store (pharmacy) chain which is one of the most popular drug store chains in Hokkaido. Duty-free shopping is available.
  • Sapporo Drug Store (サッポロドラッグストアー or サツドラ for short). Commonly lined with blue and is the local drug store chain in Hokkaido.

Eat[edit]

Hakodate's signature fish is squid and its signature dish is Hakodate shio rāmen (noodle with salty soup. not to be confused with shoyu ramen), a version of the ubiquitous noodle dish prepared with — you guessed it — squid stock instead of the usual pork. Nearby Mori-machi is also reputed to have Japan's finest ika-meshi, rice-stuffed squid. If you dare, eat the odori-don or ike ika-don dish, where a live squid is caught from the fish tank, its head removed, sliced and served as a side dish, and the rest placed on top of a rice bowl. The squid is so fresh that you can still see it change colours and move its tentacles on the plate as you pour the soy sauce!

  • 1 Restaurants and food stalls at the Morning Market (朝市 asa-ichi) (next to the train station). Explore this lively market and its stalls. In and around the market are there many small restaurants where you can eat all kinds of preparations of squid and other fishes, including the "odori-don" dish.
  • Asian Bar Ramai (アジアンバー ラマイ), Goryokakucho 31-10 (五稜郭町31-10) (across the street from the Hasegawa convenience store near to the Hakodate Shimbun Building), +81 138-83-7461. 11:30–21:30, last order 21:00. A small chain of Indonesian-style soup curry restaurants found in many locations across Hokkaido. Has an unusually large scale for spiciness (up to infinity!) and also features several difference house specials, of which the spiciest is 'Dewi Fujin.' There are two other locations in the city (see website) but are not as easy to access without use of an automobile.
  • 2 Hakodate Beer Hall (函館ビヤホール hakodate-biahōru), Suehiromachi 14-12 (末広町14番12) (across the street from the Starbucks in the akarenga district, the restaurant is the first on the left when you enter the building), +81 138-27-1010, fax: +81 138-27-1256. 11:30–22:30. This food-and-beer restaurant, located in a red brick warehouse in the akarenga district, combines a German bierhalle atmosphere into its interior design. The large food menu includes a good selection of seafood dishes, western specialties such as pizza and spaghetti, and there are a couple of locally-brewed beers on tap, although quite pricey (¥870 for a pint). English menu with pictures available.
  • Hokuhokutei (北北亭), Hondori 1-4-20 (本通1丁目44-20) (across the street from two-steeple eyeglass store), +81 138-31-0770. Lunch 11:00–15:00, dinner 16:00–22:00. This sushi restaurant, a short walk from Fort Goryōkaku, is a good value for lunch when all plates are ¥129.
  • Lucky Pierrot (ラッキーピエロ) (next to Goryokaku tower and in twelve other locations across the city). This hamburger restaurant chain is exclusive to Hakodate, popular among citizens and known for reasonable prices. Each franchise is decked out in its own unique kitsch including one in art deco and another in year-round Christmas themes. They made international news when they offered a “whale burger”, which one blogger called more poetically a “whale whopper”. ラッピー (rappi), as called by locals, does indeed have a menu as eccentric as its’ décor. The most popular item is called “Chinese Chicken”. This hamburger contains chicken, lettuce and mayonnaise and is very delicious. Following that is the mountainous "Mount Hakodate" burger, measuring a lofty 1800 kcal and stacked to the brim with every other burger on their menu. Other items include pizzas, cakes, hamburgers and fried rice omelets.
  • Lumbini Curry House (ルンビニ カレーハウス), Mihara 1-20-11 (美原1丁目20−11), +81 138-40-2210. 11:00-21:00. Quite the hidden gem, Lumbini is a Nepalese curry restaurant in the Mihara area of Hakodate north of Goryokaku Park. There are 4 curry base flavors (tomato, onion, daal, and spinach) and a fair selection of different naans. Has both tables and rug seating on raised platforms. ¥1000-2000.
  • Rabbit Farm. M-Sa 10:00–17:00. This is a bakery. There are many delicious sweet rolls and cakes. There are apple pies, chocolate sticks, cream puffs and bread as well. This bakery often staffs disabled people, which gives them work opportunities they may not have otherwise.
  • 3 Teuchi Soba Kitawase (手打ち蕎麦 きたわせ), 32-9 Honcho (本町32-9), +81 138-87-0605. 12:00-15:30, 18:00-23:30. A small but very charming soba restaurant hidden along the main tram line running east. The staff and atmosphere are very inviting and the multitude of soba lunch and dinner sets are sure to satisfy. Make sure to try some of their soba-flavored soft-serve ice cream for dessert. ¥1000-2000.
  • 4 Tea Shop Yūhi (ティーショップ夕日), 25-18 Funamichō (a few minutes from the Foreign Cemetery), +81 138-85-8824. F-W 10:00-17:00. A delightful place to relax after seeing the main sights. This cozy wooden building serves delicious teas, along with light snacks. The window seats offer a great view of the bay and the staff is very friendly. English menu available.
  • 5 Hokkai Ramen (北海ラーメン), 2 Chome-4-31 Yunokawacho. 11:00-00:00, closed on Wednesdays. Ramen shop solely run by an old lady. No English menu, but a bit of Ramen lingo gets you far. Especially the char siu is spectacular. ¥500-1000.
  • 6 King Bake (キングベーク), 7-8 Kamedahoncho (follow the road exiting eastwards from JR Goryōkaku station for 400m), +81 0138 45 0963. 7:00-19:00. If you search for pastries that are comparable to what you'd get in central Europe, King Bake is your destination. You can find the western classics (croissants, etc.) as well as the Japanese counterparts (e.g. curry-bun). They have sandwiches and also serve breakfast and meals. In addition to the main branch, pastries to go are sold in a little shop located in the entry hall of JR Hakodate station.

Drink[edit]

There are two main drinking districts in Hakodate, Daimon, which is close to the station, and Goryōkaku, in particular Hon-Cho. Foreigners seem to be more catered to in the Goryōkaku area.

  • Bagus. A surfer-style bar open 'til morning.
  • Bar Big Job (バービッグジョブ), Hakodate, Honcho, 7-7 (behind Hokuyo-Ginko bank in Goryokaku), +81 138 54 3003. An English-style standing room only bar featuring a selection of bottled Belgian beers. Chairs are often set up outside in front of the bar during the warmer months of the year.
  • Eiley's Irish Pub (アイリッシュパブエイリーズ), Hakodate-shi, Honchō, 9-5 3F, +81 138 54 4771. A spacious Irish pub on the 3rd floor of a building in Goryokaku. Several beer options from around the globe including Guinness on tap.
  • Ramaru ラメール, honcho 2-3 Alpha Building. 21:00-4:00. Small drinking place 2nd floor. "Nomi-ho Dai" All you can drink for 1½ hours, ¥3000. Look for a "Blue Ship's Anchor" on the sign next to the Boss coffee machine. This street has many bars so it is a little confuzing to find. But if you find it- it's well worth a chat with Osho-san. the owner.
  • Kingyo (金魚), Honcho 9-3 Honcho Building 2nd Floor. Elegantly styled drinking establishment. "Nomi-ho Dai" more than 3 people; All you can drink 1½ hours- ¥3500 p/p.

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 Oyado Aozora Inn (おやど青空), 22-4 Wakamatsuchō. A 2-minute walk from the Hakodate station. It is a cozy inn with clean tatami rooms run by an English speaking Japanese lady. Laundry available and the internet in the lounge area is free.
  • 2 Minshuku Sumitomo-Inn (民宿住友), . Five blocks (or street lights) straight on from Hakodate station, or take the bus to Omori-cho. Rooms are typical Japanese 15-tatami Spartan minshuku-style, bathroom included. In 2007, management did not speak English (despite its website having an English page).
  • 3 Tōyoko Inn (There are two of these hotels in Hakodate (Asaichi, Japanese for 'Morning Market' and Ekimae Daimon, Japanese for 'front of the station, large gate) and both are within easy walking distance of Hakodate station, Asaichi to the right as you exit the station, and Ekimae Daimon to the left as you exit the station. Both are visible on the skyline from the front of the station.), +81 138 23 1045 (Asaichi). Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:00. All Toyoko Inns are pretty much the same though the Asaichi one is a little bit more in amongst the action with the Morning Market nearby than the Ekimae Daimon. They offer very convenient and cheap rooms and free breakfast but lack the 'Japanese experience' you may get from other options. Rooms can be reserved online through an English website. ¥5000 - 6000.
  • 4 Comfort Hotel Hakodate (コンフォートホテル函館) (Across the square in front of the train station). A business hotel conveniently located next to the train station. Rooms are small but clean, and the price includes breakfast. ¥5000 for a double room.
  • 5 Four Points by Sheraton (フォーポイントバイシェラトン函館) (Opposite the train station), +81 138 22 0111. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. The once dated and daggy Loisir has had a bit of a facelift and a new name. The rooms are small but the location is excellent. The bar on the 13th floor has nice views and can do you a decent martini. ¥12,000 for a single room.
  • 6 Hakodate Kokusai Hotel (函館国際ホテル (Hakodate International Hotel)) (Turn right at the first set of traffic lights in front of the station, past the Morning Market and about a ten minute walk), +81 138 23 0591. Pricey, but worth it if you can get a room with a view of the bay. Nice location not far from the station and near the red brick warehouse area and not far from the old part of town. Called the "Kokusai" (international) hotel, but nothing particularly international about it apart from the name. ¥6,000-45,000.
  • 7 HakoBA Hakodate, 23-9 Suehiro-cho (末広町23-9) (3 minute walk from the Suehiro-cho (末広町) tram stop. Also within walking distance to the Jugigae (十字街) tram stop. The Suehiro-cho stop is exclusively on route 5.), +81 138-27-5858. Check-in: From 15:00, check-out: Until 10:00. A hotel that is south of the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse. Offers a range of different accommodations from hostel style shared dormitories to individual rooms in a historic bank building. Family rooms that sleep up to 6 are also available. Within walking distance to many attractions near Motomachi, including the ropeway station. Good for travelers on a budget or those traveling in a large group. From ¥2000 up to ¥12,000 a night.
  • 8 Pension Puppy Tail (ペンション パピィーテール), 30-16 Wakamatsucho (from JR Hakodate station, walk a few minutes along route 5, it's just before ENEOS gas station), +81 0138 23 5858. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. When entering, you might feel like time stood still for the last 50 years. The furniture apart from the TV, AC and smart toilet seat looks old, but is still in good shape and functional. They offer Japanese- and Western-style rooms, many with a shared bathroom, for a reasonable price. English is spoken pretty well.

Stay safe[edit]

Visitors unused to icy conditions should be careful in winter of the icy conditions, particularly of black ice. Cars may skid in the streets and pedestrians can fall victim to it on the sidewalks. Do as the Japanese do: simply stand up and keep walking like nothing happened.

As elsewhere in Japan, Hakodate is comparatively very safe when it comes to petty crime. One exception that seems to happen in Hokkaido, albeit rarely even then, is being approached by a foreigner claiming to be in distress and needing cash. They will tell you that an ATM swallowed their card or some other sob story and that they cannot speak Japanese but strangely are not interested in being accompanied to the police so you can translate for them. This will likely occur in a touristy area and they don't pose any danger. Simply direct them to the nearest police box, there is one near the station.

Go next[edit]

  • Lake Onuma (大沼 ōnuma), a "quasi-national park" that's about half an hour to the north by express train, offers a pleasant quick gateway. If you wish to go to Lake Ōnuma by local train, make sure to check the train schedule since local trains only come every 2 hours or so.
  • Matsumae (松前), 1½ hour drive from Hakodate along the coast, has the only castle in Hokkaidō, which is in Matsumae park, famed in southern Hokkaidō (南北海道 minami hokkaidō or 道南 dōnan) for excellent cherry blossom viewing in late April/early May.
  • Esan (恵山), known for its Tsutsuji (Azalea) festival in late May/early June, it's about a 45-minute car ride east of Hakodate city proper (but still within the city limits). The drive will take you mostly along the coast with scenic views of northern Aomori on clear days.
  • Esashi
  • Hokuto
  • Kikonai
  • Shiriuchi
  • Imabetsu
  • Aomori
  • Tomakomai
  • Otaru
  • Sapporo
Routes through Hakodate
END  N  S  Okutsugaru Imabetsu → in to Shin Aomori
SapporoOshamambe  N  S  END
MatsumaeHokuto  W  E  END


This city travel guide to Hakodate is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.