5 Things to Do in Hakodate

A port city with plenty to offer the traveler

By Kim    - 3 min read

Hokkaido's port city of Hakodate was Japan's first region opened up to international trade, and has grown as a tourist destination in recent years courtesy of the Hayabusa Shinkansen creating a convenient rail link to Tokyo. You'll find plenty to enjoy across the city whether you're a history buff, a foodie, a shopaholic or an architecture aficionado. If you're paying Hakodate a visit, here are five things to add to your itinerary.

1. Visit the Hakodate morning market

If you want to experience a bustling atmosphere and fresher-than-fresh eats, a trip to the Hakodate Morning Market is a great way to start your trip. It opens from 7am daily - perfect for the early birds - and offers a range of different souvenirs and a chance to sample the region's bountiful seafood.

The Hakodate Morning Market is full of hustle and bustle
The Hakodate Morning Market is full of hustle and bustle (Photo: Kim B)

2. Get a great view at the Goryokaku

Head up the Goryokaku Tower and you'll be treated to a stellar view of the Goryokaku Fort. The fort was cleverly designed in a star shape to maximize the number of cannons on its walls for protection, whilst also minimizing the number of blind spots where defense would be difficult. The scenery changes throughout the seasons and the area is known as a cherry blossom viewing spot in the spring.

Views of the star shaped fort from Goryokaku Tower
Views of the star shaped fort from Goryokaku Tower (Photo: Kim B)
Goryokaku Park
  • 44 Goryokaku-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
  • 5:00 - 18:00 (Closed now)

3. Eat at a branch of Lucky Pierrot

This Hakodate based fast-food chain is a local icon, with 17 branches across the city. You'll see the stores from a distance with their weird and wacky exteriors (creepy clowns and Santa Claus, for instance), and their menu has a range of burgers, curries, ice creams and more. If you really want to go big or go home, try their "Futoccho" burger which towers 18 centimeters in height! The Futoccho burger is limited to 20 servings per Lucky Pierrot restaurant each day, so get in early.

Another quirky Lucky Pierrot storefront
Another quirky Lucky Pierrot storefront (Photo: Kim B)

4. Appreciate the unique architecture

There are a number of churches and other public buildings in Hakodate that are distinctly European in appearance. The Old Public Hall of Hakodate in its blue and yellow tones is particularly charming, as is the Hakodate Orthodox Church. Spend some time exploring the streets and soaking up the sights!

The Hakodate Orthodox Church up close
The Hakodate Orthodox Church up close (Photo: Kim B)

5. Wander around the Red Brick District

Around the port area you'll find a number of red brick warehouses which were once used for merchant trading. They've since been renovated and now house various restaurants, souvenir stores, and even a beer hall.

The charming red brick warehouses
The charming red brick warehouses (Photo: Kim B)

Getting there

Hakodate is easily accessible via air from Tokyo's Haneda or Narita Airports, with a flight time of approximately 80 minutes. The region can also be reached via train - take the Hayabusa Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate Hokuto, then switch to the Hakodate Liner bound for Hakodate.

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Kim @kim.b

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Sleiman Azizi 2 years ago
I know it's a silly thing but I have always loved the word 'Hakodate.' It just rolls off of the tongue so nicely.
Kim Author 2 years ago
Not silly at all! You’re right - it definitely is one of those place names that is fun to say.
Bonson Lam 2 years ago
Did you try the Futoccho burger? Yes, only at Lucky Pierrot!
Kim Author 2 years ago
Haha, I didn’t!! The Chinese chicken burger was on their menu as the most popular item so I tried that! It’s definitely hearty food and the quirky decor makes it even more interesting!
Elena Lisina 2 years ago
It's interesting place, thank you! When I planned my previous trip, Hakodate was in my list as I wanted to start with Sapporo and travel down to the South. But because of the money problem I only went to Sendai. : (
Elena Lisina 2 years ago
We have 11 time zones! It takes a week by train from Moscow to Vladivostok and many people do travel by train.