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Hakodate, Japan

Hakodate is not only beautiful, but it also has a long history, dating back to about 1454. The port took on importance as one of the first Japanese ports to open to the western world after its era of isolation. It became a city in 1922 and was destroyed shortly thereafter by a fire in 1935. Today, Hadokate is a popular tourist destination overseen by Mount Hakodate. A visit here is not complete without visiting the lively morning seafood market of Asa-ichi and feasting on the abundance of fresh seafood, including squid. As a leading squid fishing port, the city's mascot is the squid. Shopping, eating and taking in the views are all popular activities here.


Ship Location

Cruise ships dock at Nishi Wharf or the larger Minato-cho Wharf.


Getting Around

A shuttle transports guests from the port to the town center near the Japan Railway Hakodate Station, about 15 minutes from the port, perhaps for a small fee. For approximately 600 yen, tourists may buy a one-day pass for the streetcar (tram) at the main train station and see many of the main tourist sites that way. The streetcar runs about every 10 minutes. Taxis are available for hire and are seen frequently around the main train station where the shuttle stops.



Hakodate offers several attractions worth visiting. The view from the top of Mount Hakodate is said to be one of the most beautiful in the world. Weather permitting, a gondola ride can take visitors some 1,000 feet to the top in about three minutes. In Motomachi, an area of the city settled after Japan opened to foreign trade with the US and other countries in the 1800s, tour historic buildings, many with a Western design, including the Russian Orthodox Church of Hakodate, the old Hadokate City Hall, and the old British consulate. The star-shaped, western-style fort of Goryokaku, built in the 1860s as an intended defense from attackers, is a must-see, particularly when viewed from the top of Goryokaku Tower, about 300 feet high.


In the spring, some 1,600 blooming cherry trees adorn the fort. Close to the main train station, the morning market is another must-see. With some 250 stalls covering several blocks, the market offers ocean-fresh seafood, vegetables, and fruit. Squid is a specialty of Hakodate, as is a signature dish called ika odori-don, dancing squid bowl.


Tourist shopping can be found at the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses, dating from about 1909 and renovated into shopping and dining complexes, including a beer hall.


Hakodate's Port Festival occurs the first week of August; everyone is welcome to join the Ika-Odori (dancing squid) dance. The Hakodate Botanical Garden is renowned for the monkeys that come to the hot springs to avoid the cold and snow in winter. To learn more about the indigenous Ainu culture, visit the Hakodate City Museum of Northern Peoples.


Passengers are also given the option of visiting the Onuma Quasi-National Park, about an hour north of Hakodate, known for its scenic lakes and islands.


Staying in Touch

Free Wi-Fi is available at the Minato-Cho Wharf, the Tourist Information Center, the inside of city trams, and other tourist spots, as well as an increasing number of small cafes and restaurants.