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Bucket List: Top 15 Best Things to Do in Hakodate, Japan

Hakodate Bucket List: Best Activities and Amazing Places to Visit in Hakodate, Japan

Hakodate is an awesome place to visit located in the south of the island and famous for being one of Japan’s most beautiful tourist spots. Located near the southern tip of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. This city is at the height of fame as a trade port and remains lined with buildings that combine European and other international and Japanese cultures. It is an alluring city, known for the beauty of its sensational night views and fresh seafood.

It is quite a suitable location to get away from the summer heat because its temperatures are also cooler than other cities in Japan. Numerous families in Hakodate do not own air-conditioners or even need to use fans. Let me share with you the 15 best things to do in Hakodate, Japan.

1. Visit the Hekketsu Monument

Hekketsu Monument

It’s worth the trek of going to the Hekketsu monument. It is for the commendation to the 800 samurai who died fighting against government forces in the Boshin War. Specifically the Battle of Hakodate, in 1869. The government forces intended to restore the emperor to the throne (Meiji restoration), and the shogunate (samurai) had ruled Japan for hundreds of years and had a seclusion policy.

It is very refreshing and quiet at the shrine. It is a good place to relax and mellow out before continuing. Other spots that may be visited nearby include Hakodate park and the Gokoku Jinja Shrine, where the government forces who died in the battle are buried.

2. Voyage in Hakodate Bay

Sunset at Hakodate Bay photo via Depositphotos
Sunset at Hakodate Bay photo via Depositphotos

The bay area played a vital aspect in commerce and trading since it was established as one of Japan’s first international ports in 1859. As a main economic core, Hakodate keeps the city and the rest of Hokkaido open to international influence.

One of the more popular attractions is the Hakodate Bay cruise on the boat “Blue Moon.” This cruise gives you a unique view of hot spots, including the warehouses and the fish market. It takes 30- or 60- minutes long and can be enjoyed day or night. The daytime cruise will give you a chance to survey the chaotic bay area, while a nighttime one has a blazing view.

Cruises range from ¥350 up to ¥2,800. A cruise on the “Blue Moon” can also be extended by choosing a party plan that includes both food and drink.

3. Wander in Goryokaku Tower

Goryokaku Park Tower in springtime photo via Depositphotos
Goryokaku Park Tower in springtime photo via Depositphotos

It is one of the traditional tourist attractions in Hakodate. It is a 170m-tall structure located in an area with a 15-minute walk from the Goryokaku-Koen-Mae tram stop. Its ruins are shaped like a giant star that can be appreciated in their entirety from the tower’s observation deck.

Cherry blossom viewing spot was in its grounding area from late April to early May; you can see the area’s approximately 1,600 cherry trees in full bloom.

4. Take a deep breath in Onuma Park Square.

Onuma Quasi-National Park
Onuma Quasi-National Park

Onuma Park Square is the heart of Onuma Quasi-National Park. It is where you will feel your closeness to nature, and tourists can enjoy the countless small islands on Lake Onuma and Lake Konuma, the beautiful Mt. Komagatake, and the scenery full of seasonal plants and flowers.

You can also meet small animals like Hokkaido squirrels and wild birds. It has an observation deck built on the rooftop of the local specialty shop Onuma Tenbokaku where you can enjoy a great view of Onuma Lake.

5. Eat signature seafood like squid.

Fried Squid photo via Depositphotos
Fried Squid photo via Depositphotos

Hakodate is popular for being a squid town capital. As this place is near the sea, seafood is the main dish on many menus. It has many squid dishes all over the town. Some are ramen noodles made of squid stock instead of pork.

Also, try their ika- mesh, rice stuffed with a ubiquitous cephalopod. It is also famous for “morning squid” offloaded from ships in the morning shortly after they dock and live squid swimming in tanks destined to be filleted alive later.

Katsu ika Odori donburi (bowl of dancing fresh squid) (1,890 yen).

6. Dwell with the Nakamura-ke Residence

Consider a trip to Esashi, which is some 70 kilometers away from town proper. This place is known to be the central trade location during the 18th and 19th centuries.

You can see how Esashi would have looked during that period by looking at the Nakamura-ke Residence, an elegant home built in the traditional style using cypress wood and stone.

This home would have a component to a rich trader, and it is famous as it was built by slotting the wood together with the stones without using any nails, which makes it even more magnificent and well worth a visit.

7. Attend the Port Festival in August

Hakodate Port Festival photo via Hakodate.travel
Hakodate Port Festival photo via Hakodate. travel

Beginning of August, you must attend the Port Festival in Hakodate. The festival is popular for its Squid Dance (ika-Odori in Japanese) – a trembling jig that the crowd joins, accompanied by an equally simple chant: “Ika-ika-ika-ika-ika-odori!” (squid squid squid squid squid dance!) which celebrates Hakodate’s most well-known and best-loved foodstuff.

It is southern Hokkaido’s extravagant festivities. It is held across five days in early August since 1935; this summer celebration kicks off with a huge fireworks display on the first evening – get a perfect place on the waterfront around the bay, or bump for a spot on the top of Mount Hakodate (open until 10 pm).

On days two and three, dance parades wobble through the streets, attracting 20,000 costumed performers. Distinct groups accompany neon-lit floats, while fresh-caught squid is the main ingredient of many meals cooked up by the street stalls that pop up across the city at this time of year.

8. Take a walk in Motomachi.

Cityscape of Motomachi district in Hakodate, Hokkaido photo via Depositphotos
Cityscape of Motomachi district in Hakodate, Hokkaido photo via Depositphotos

Motomachi is one of Hakodate’s popular tourist spots that you can see a lot of beautiful architecture.

Look for the consulate buildings and churches as the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the former British Consulate building. Those structures are built in the former European style and Old Public Hall, built in the 1900s.

Gokuku Sheine was used as a cemetery for members of the imperial house who died during the famous Battle of Hakodate. Streetscape and the sweeping views of the port from the slopes make it a perfect picture view.

9. Tour the Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples

Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples by 663highland via Wikipedia CC
Hakodate Museum of Northern Peoples By 663highland – Own work, CC BY 2.5, CC

The Hakodate Museum of the Northern Peoples is located inside a Japan Bank building in the past and was built in 1926. The museum is an elegy of the Ainu culture and gives you a captivating look at this ancient culture, which is not well known outside of Japan.

You can also learn about other native groups in Japan, such as the Sakhalin, who are lived on an island that is to the north of Hokkaido that is now a part of Russia.

10. Drop-in Red-Brick Warehouse District

Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan at the historic shops and restaurants of the Kanemori on a winter evening photo via Depositphotos
Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan at the historic shops and restaurants of the Kanemori on a winter evening photo via Depositphotos

Find time in shopping at this warehouse district that you can see a comprehensive line of Hokkaido Japan. The brick warehouse complex is composed of about 50 shops that are spread out over 4 zones.

The Kanemori Youbutsukan (literally, “Western Item Hall”) has shops that offer a wide diversity of products. The Bay Hakodate zone has numerous cafes and a chapel. It also has a beer hall and souvenir shops.

Finally, the Kanemori Hall is a venue for different occasions, including concerts. Tourists can buy items and souvenirs that are symbols of Hakodate as well as taking delicious meals and confections.

12. Make a Sip in Tea Shop Yuhi

Tea Shop Yuhi photo via visit-hokkaido.jp
Tea Shop Yuhi photo via visit-hokkaido.jp

Tea Shop Yuhi is located inside a building built-in 1885. It is Hakodate Quarantine Office before. Delicious Tea and the best scenery of the place. A mystical teahouse where you can view the water.

Traditional Japanese green tea serves here, for which the country is well-known, and you can also eat on local wagashi, which are Japanese sweets that are served with a side of pickles.

13. Reward yourself by shopping for souvenirs

Hakodate Glass Studio photo via visit-hokkaido.jp
Hakodate Glass Studio photo via visit-hokkaido.jp

Hakodate is known in Japan for its excellent handicraft culture that you can collect on quaint souvenirs made in the region.

They have glassware and several shops all over town where you can watch those local glassblowers personally at work and can do your glass objects. They also have charming music boxes in the area close to the former Meijikan Post Office.

14. Unwind in Hakodate Beer

Hakodate Beer photo via Hakodate.travel
Hakodate Beer photo via Hakodate. travel

Hakodate Beer is a homebrew located in Hakodate city, Hokkaido. After deregulation by the Japanese government, it opened to everyone. It served an easy, relaxing meal and yummy beer with live piano music.

A cozy restaurant within walking distance to the morning market. They also serve signature fried squid plucked straight from the bay of Hakodate.

15. Hakodate-Yama

Mt. Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan observation area and ropeway on the peak in winter. photo via Depositphotos
Mt. Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan observation area, and ropeway on the peak in winter. photo via Depositphotos

It is also known as Mount Hakodate. The summit is located at around 334 meters. It has night views from the peak, one of the best in all of Japan, and to get to the top of it you can take the ropeway, or you can also try to trek to the top. The path is only open from May to October.

You can try to hit the peak right before sunset so that you can take in the chromatic red-orange show followed by the night views.

Friendly Reminder

  • Mount Hakodate is a must-visit, and the railings of the observation deck at its summit is usually full of tourists every day at sunset. It’s a struggle to even get to the top around this time, so you need to head up a little earlier.
  • Bring a coat. Hokkaido is renowned for its freezing climate. Hakodate is no exception. Temperature reaching a pleasant 20C (68F) most days between June and September.
  • Get ready for salty food. Squid in the town serves salty on Hakodate’s menu. The Lucky Pierrot burger chain serves a deep-fried Chinese chicken hamburger, and the local specialty, shio ramen, is named after the word salt.
  • Enticed with something sweet. It has a famous dairy industry, and that milk is never tastier than when it’s used in ice cream, called soft cream in Hakodate.

So, if you will travel to Japan, don’t miss Hakodate. Let’s explore and be amazed at the great place of Hakodate, Japan!

Hakodate Travel and Tour Packages

To help you plan out your vacation to Hakodate, we listed places to visit and other amazing activities in Hakodate, Japan. We also listed some of the best travel deals and tour packages and excellent flight deals and accommodation.

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Hakodate hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new package tours and tourist spots in Hakodate, Japan? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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