Rebels in the north
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 in the north of Japan, and is the largest city in southern Hokkaidō. 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 was also the capital of the short-lived Republic of Ezo (see box) in the aftermath of the Meiji Restoration. There are many tourist attractions in Hakodate.
Hakodate Airport (函館空港 Hakodate kūkō, HKD) is 20 minutes by bus (¥300) from the train station. JAL and ANA offer nonstop service to Hakodate from Tokyo (Haneda), Osaka (Itami) and Nagoya (Chubu); Air Do (ADO) also flies the Tokyo route and offers slightly cheaper fares. If you go to Tokyo International Airport,be careful about airlines.Get on the plane from Tokyo to Hakodate.(100min)There are turboprop flights to several other cities in Hokkaidō, as well as daily Korean Air service to Seoul. Public transport from the airport is limited, although JR offers scheduled buses to Hakodate Station approximately every 20 minutes (20 min., ¥300).
Sapporo's busier Chitose Airport, 2-3 hours to the north by train, also offers a fairly convenient alternative.
JR trains run from Honshu to Hokkaido via the Seikan Tunnel. With a total length of 53.85 km (33.49 mi), the Seikan Tunnel is currently the world's longest railway tunnel - although the Gotthard Base Tunnel, under construction in Switzerland, will surpass it by about 5 km. The Seikan Tunnel also claims the title of the world's longest undersea tunnel, with a 23.3 km (14.5 mi) section under the waters of the Tsugaru Strait.
The fastest way to reach Hakodate by train from Tokyo is by taking the Hayabusa shinkansen service. The one-way trip lasts about 4 hours and costs ¥22,690. For foreign tourists making the trip from Tokyo, the better deal is to purchase the national Japan Rail Pass.
Hakodate can also be reached using the Seishun 18 Ticket, as the ticket is valid on limited expresses between Kikonai and Kanita across the Seikan Tunnel. See Seishun 18 Ticket for a sample itinerary.
Trains to areas outside of Hakodate leave infrequently (compared to areas like Tokyo where trains come every few minutes) so plan ahead.
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. One way fares are cheapest on the Seikan Ferry at ¥1500 for a carpet space. The Tsugaru Kaikyo ferries are more expensive: one way fares are ¥2700 for second class (carpet space), ¥5000 for first class and ¥6000 for special class. Note that first and special classes are only offered on specific departures and offer better amenities, such as a room with bed. Travel time on all services is approximately 3 hours, 45 minutes.
Cars and motorcycles can also be carried on the Hakodate-Oma ferry, and on some of the Hakodate-Aomori ferries.
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 in one day, it is advisable to buy a one day pass from the driver when you get off (600 yen). A combination bus/streetcar pass is also available (one day 1000 yen, two days 1700 yen). Each pass comes with a map of the stops. Children are half off of those prices.
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 routes of steet car, namely, the number 2 route, and the number 5 route. Both routes runs from the same Yunokawa until it branches out in Jujigai.
Route map of street car route #2 is as follows. Note that the first three stations are different from route #5.
Yachigashira(谷地頭), Aoyagi-chō(青柳町), Hōrai-chō(宝来町), Jūjigai(十字街), Uo ichiba-dōri(魚市場通), Shiyakusho Mae(市役所前), Matsukaze-chō(松風町), Shinkawa-chō(新川町), Chitose-chō(千歳町), Shōwa-bashi(昭和橋), Horikawa-chō(堀河町), Chiyodagai(千代台), Chūōbyōin Mae(中央病院前), Goryōkaku Kōen Mae(五稜郭公園前), Suginami-chō(杉並町), Kashiwagi-chō(柏木町), Fukabori-chō(深堀町), Keibajo Mae(競馬所前), Komabashako Mae(駒場車庫前), Shiminkaikan Mae(市民会館前), Yunokawa Onsen(湯の川温泉), Yunokawa(湯の川)
Route map of street car route #5 is as follows. Note that the first three stations are different from route #2.
Hakodate Dokku Mae(函館ドック前), Ōmachi(大町), Suehiro-chō(末広町), Jūjigai(十字街), Uo ichiba-dōri(魚市場通), Shiyakusho Mae(市役所前), Matsukaze-chō(松風町), Shinkawa-chō(新川町), Chitose-chō(千歳町), Shōwa-bashi(昭和橋), Horikawa-chō(堀河町), Chiyodagai(千代台), Chūōbyōin Mae(中央病院前), Goryōkaku Kōen Mae(五稜郭公園前), Suginami-chō(杉並町), Kashiwagi-chō(柏木町), Fukabori-chō(深堀町), Keibajo Mae(競馬所前), Komabashako Mae(駒場車庫前), Shiminkaikan Mae(市民会館前), Yunokawa Onsen(湯の川温泉), Yunokawa(湯の川)
Additionally, there is the はこだて 電車・バス沿線名所・史跡マップ (hakodate densha, basu ensenmeisho, shiseki mappu), the map of interesting places to visit in Hakodate by streetcar and bus. 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.
- Mount Hakodate (函館山 ''hakodate-yama'', 334m), (A ropeway will take you up for ¥640/1160 one-way/return. There are also buses from platform 4 of the main bus station in front of Hakodate Station. A trip back and forth will cost ¥360, 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).It is said to be one million dollars worth. If you go there on a fine day, you will be able to find a fishing port of Aomori prefecture. From the end of April to the middle of November,people can go to drive there.This is popular amoung men and women of all ages.Then,this mountain is called "Gagyuu mountain.""Gagyuu" means that the cow seems to be lying down and Hakodate mountain looks like that. Ropeway: ¥640/1160 one-way/return; Bus: ¥360 return or included in Day Pass. edit
- Tsugaru Fort (津軽要塞 ''Tsugaru-yōsai''), . 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. edit
- Fort Goryōkaku (五稜郭), (Streetcar Goryōkaku-kōen-mae (五稜郭公園前) stop). 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.This was built to strengthen defense.And also,this place is inoling in war.This shape is star.When you look at this form from top,you will understand this shape. Most of the fort was consequently demolished and this is now a large park and popular cherry-blossom spot in spring.Many people bring box lunch and enjoy seeing cherry-blossom. The fort also houses a small museum with exhibits on local history (rotating each year). edit
- 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 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 ¥840, child & group discounts. edit
- 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 (旧公会堂 Kū-kōkai-dō), a European-style building which housed Hakodate's government in the early 1900's. 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 Roman Catholic Church, 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. edit
- Red Brick Warehouses (Kanemori Warehouse) (金森倉庫 ''kanemori-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. A night view of Hakodate can be seen from the The Blue Moon bay cruise. Located at the vicinity of the red brick warehouses. edit
- Port Festival (函館港祭り ''hakodate minato matsuri''), (Streetcar Jūjigai (十字街) stop). annually from August 1st to 6th. This is Hakodate's biggest festival and known for its festive Squid Dance (イカ踊り Ika-odori). edit
- Hakodate Christmas Fantasy. annually December 1 to 25. A giant Christmas tree is displayed on the sea in the red-brick warehouses area during the festival each year. edit
- Morning Market (朝市 asa-ichi) 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 AM (6 AM in the winter) until noon. Next to the market are a number of restaurants, most of which specialize in seafood-topped donburi (rice bowl). Near the JR Station and the streetcar Hakodate Eki-mae (函館駅前) stop.
- Glasswares and musicboxes can be bought at the old Meijikan Post Office (明治館 meiji-kan). Meijikan is situated 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.
Hakodate's signature fish is squid and its signature dish is Hakodate shio rāmen(not to be confused with shioyuu 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.
- 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), ☎ 0138-83-7461, . 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM, Last Order: 9 PM. 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. edit
- 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), ☎ 0138-27-1010 (fax: 0138-27-1256), . 11:30 AM to 10:30 PM. 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. edit
- Hokuhokutei (北北停), Hondori 1-4-20 (本通1丁目44-20) (across the street from two-steeple eyeglass store), ☎ 0138-31-0770, . Lunch 11 AM to 3 PM, dinner 4 PM to 10 PM. This sushi restaurant, a short walk from Fort Goryōkaku, is a good value for lunch when all plates are ¥129. edit
- Lucky Pierrot (ラッキーピエロ), (Next to Goryokaku tower and in several other locations around the city.), . This chain of hamburger restaurants is exclusive to Hakodate and is great value for money. "Each franchise is decked out in its own unique kitsch including one in art deco and another in year round Santa themes. They made international news last year when they began offering a “whale burger”, which one blogger called more poetically a “whale whopper”. LaPi, as called by locals, does indeed have a menu as eccentric as its’ décor. The #1 most popular item is called “Chinese Chicken”. This humberger contains chicken, lettuce and mayonnaise and is very delicious. #2 is the “whale burger,” which is fried whale with miso sauce. Two other items are of special interest - the “Hokkaido Genghis Khan Burger” and the "Scallop Burger." The latter originated from a customer contest. The main LaPi website is a trip. The menu link is called “Umai monogatari” which means “Tasty Tales”. There are many different menu items in Lupi. For example, pizzas, cakes, hamburgers and omelets combined with fried rice. The website also provides sightseeing suggestions for Hakodate as well as a page titled “Love Letter,” which appears to be a signbook/forum for folks to pay tribute to their food. edit
- Lumbini Curry House (ルンビニ カレーハウス), Mihara 1-20-11 (美原１丁目２０−１１), ☎ 0138-40-2210. 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. edit
- Teuchi Soba Kitawase (手打ちそばきたわせ), 10-16 Shoin-cho (松陰町10-16), ☎ 0138-87-0605, . 11:30-15:00; 17:00-21:3017:. A small but very charming soba restaurant hidden along the main tram line running east from Goryokaku to Yunokawa. 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. 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. edit
- Bar Big Job (バービッグジョブ), Hakodate, Honcho, 7-7 (behind Hokuyo-Ginko bank in Goryokaku), ☎ 0138 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. edit
- Eiley's Irish Pub (アイリッシュパブエイリーズ), Hakodate-shi, Honchō, 9-5 3F, ☎ 0138 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. edit
- Ramaru ラメール, honcho 2-3 Alpha Building. 9pm - 4 am. Small drinking place 2nd floor. "Nomi-ho Dai" All you can drink for 1 1/2 hours-3000Yen. 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. edit
- 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 1 1/2 hours- 3500 Yen p/p. edit
- Hotel Sharoum Inn 2, 2 Mins from the Hakkodate JR station, ☎ 0138-223000, . checkin: 15:00; checkout: 10:00. A friendly business type hotel with very good rates, free bike rental, TV, private bathroom, fast free wifi on every floor, free coffee, computer area and dining area on the ground floor, the staff are extremly competent English speakers. The bus to the top of the mountain is also closeby. Y3600 (Oct 2013). edit
- Oyado Aozora Inn (おやど青空), . A 2 minutes 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. edit
- 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). edit
- Tōyoko Inn, . There are two of these hotels in Hakodate (Asaichi and Daimon) and both are within easy walking distance of Hakodate station. They offer very convenient and cheap rooms but lack the 'Japanese experience' you may get from other options. Rooms can be reserved online through an English website. edit
- Hakodate Youth Guest House, 17-6, Hōrai-chō (宝来町１７番６) (Get off at Hōrai-chō(宝来町) on street car line #2 west of Hakodate station (Y200 one way). Walk to the next crossing and turn left, walk two blocks and when you see the super market, turn right and it's right in front of you.), ☎ 0138-26-7892 ([email protected], fax: 0138-26-0989), . A freindly and clean hostel right next to Hakodate Park. Rooms are comfortable, though not all have an A/C. It even has a little observatory to look at Mount Hakodate! Staff speak English and there is lots of information available, as well as Day Passes for the tram/bus. Update: Call ahead before you go to this hostel, it maybe locked up and deserted as it was in Oct 2013. edit
- Lake Onuma (大沼湖 ōnuma-ko), 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.
- Nanae (7e) Snowpark (函館七飯スノーパーク hakodate nanae sunōpāku), 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.
- Matsumae (松前), an hour and a half 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) for excellent cherry blossom viewing in late April/early May.
- Esan, known for its Tsutsuji (Azalea) festival in 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..