As the biggest city in south Hokkaidō and one of the first Japanese cities opened to foreign trade, the City of Hakodate reflects foreign influence in both its architecture and atmosphere. There are several places visitors will not want to miss while they’re in the Port of Hakodate.
Motomachi is the city’s historic district. It contains the European-style Old Public Hall where the city government was located in the early 20th Century. Also in the district are consulates and churches created during Japan’s early foreign trade era. The road from the foreign cemetery to the Higashi Honganji Temple is lined with the Russian Orthodox Church, the Episcopal Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the old Russian and British Consulates, and the Old Public Hall.
Mount Hakodate rises into the clouds and, on clear days, offers breathtaking views of the city and the sea. Visitors can climb the mountain on the ropeway (aerial lift) or by bus, and day passes are available for the buses.
The Port of Hakodate’s Red Brick Warehouses were constructed in the late Meiji era. Today, they house seafood restaurants and commercial facilities. Visitors can board The Blue Moon, a wonderful bay cruise, near the warehouse area.
Fort Goryōkaku in the Port of Hakodate was Japan’s first western-style fortress. It was completed in 1864 and immediately used as the headquarters for the short-lived Ezo Republic. Visitors will find a small museum there featuring local history. Much of the fort was demolished after the rebels surrendered, but the area now contains a big park that is a favorite spot for cherry blossoms in the spring.
The nearby Goryōkaku Tower (Japanese) is a 90-meter viewing platform that offers views of the star-shaped fort and contains dioramas describing the Enomoto and Ezo Republic as well as the fort’s place in the city’s history. In the spring, visitors are awed by the view of 1600 blossoming cherry trees (be prepared for a long wait). In the autumn, you are treated to the changing leaves. In winter, the tower offers a breathtaking view of the city and fort covered in snow.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Hakodate by sea can find a list of scheduled cruises by searching the Cruise Compete website for “Hakodate.”