Believe it or not, in between eating just about everything Hakodate had to offer I actually managed to do some sightseeing in the city.
Although the emphasis was very much on food, there were a few places I was keen to visit that weren’t all culinary-related and with Hakodate being quite a small city, I managed to tick them all off with ease.
Possibly the main pull for anyone coming to Hakodate (especially Chinese tourists – it seemed half of the population was up the mountain), the night view from Mount Hakodate is said to be famous. So good in fact, that depending on who you speak to, it’s one of the top three in Japan or even in the world!
I’m not quite sure how you measure the quality of a view as it’s surely quite a subjective thing, but each to their own.
I opted to take the cable car to the top, with a return ticket setting me back a cool ¥1,280. With the sun due to start setting any moment after my arrival, timing was of the essence so I decided against trekking up myself. Besides, my recent experiences of mountains haven’t been overwhelmingly positive.
The sun had started to set by the time I reached the top, so I took advantage of some of the lesser-crowded areas around the back of the mountain. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
As is often the case at such places the masses had turned up hours beforehand to secure their viewing spot. When I got to the front of the mountain to wait for the night view of the city it was more a case of finding a gap in the shoulders and peeking through there.
When the night eventually fell and the streetlights all came on in unison it was really something to behold. I’m not sure how I’d rate it in terms of top night views in the world (because I haven’t seen them all!), but it was pretty amazing and well worth the wait.
Hakodate Asaichi (Morning Market)
Despite living in Tokyo for close to two years now I’ve still not bothered to visit the world famous Tsukiji fish market. It’s something I really should do as there’s been talk of it relocating since I arrived here but red tape seems to have been holding it up for a good few years now!
Anyway as the Hakodate equivalent was conveniently located directly next to the city’s train station there was no excuse for me to miss this one; the fact I wanted to eat the dancing squid also meant this was a must-visit! I arrived early doors (10am is early for a holiday, right?) and had a good wander around the stalls before stuffing my face with the freshest seafood in town.
Perhaps the most interesting thing here was the stalls where people were fishing for their own squid before telling the staff how they’d like it prepared before eating it! Actually, now I think of it, do you ‘fish’ for squid? Or do you ‘squid’ for squid? The mind boggles.
The market itself wasn’t huge, but there was enough to walk round and take pictures of. I’m fairly sure by my third lap of the market the local traders were looking at me thinking “Why doesn’t this guy stop taking pictures of the food and actually f*cking eat something?!”
I took the hint.
One great view of the city simply wasn’t enough, so I decided to head to the Goryokaku Tower for another one.
The Goryokaku itself is a fort in the middle of a big star-shaped park dating back to the Edo period. From the ground it doesn’t look anything special but when viewed from the tower, well…
It cost ¥840 to get up the tower which I thought was pretty reasonable. As usual I just took a few pictures, admired the view and made my way down again. Probably not the best value for money but I enjoyed it!
After a brief stroll around the park I headed on the tram back to my hostel to discover the area around there. The Motomachi district of the city is full of old churches and consulates, so I had a quick look at the Russian Orthodox Church as well as a few others.
I also checked out the old city hall and of course the former British Consulate! These were really no more than photo-stops, but I didn’t mind as Hakodate is a really nice city to aimlessly wander around. The mixture of old and new means there’s always something interesting around the corner and the old public hall was one of the more intriguing-looking structures around.
With that (and a burger!) I drew my short stay in Hakodate to a close. I managed to cram a lot into a day and a half, and I left with the impression that it’s one of the nicest cities I’ve visited in Japan. That being said, I’m not sure there’d be much to keep me there much longer.
Well, apart from the seafood!