Hakodate

Hakodate (函館) is a large city in southern Hokkaidō, Japan.


Understand

Rebels in the north

The Republic of Ezo ( Ezo Kyōwakoku) was a short-lived breakaway state of Japan with its capital at Hakodate.

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 has been one of the largest settlements of explorers of the Hokkaido island through and after the Meiji era, following the few years of the Republic of Ezo since 1868 (see box). Separated just by a 20-km strait of Tsugaru (津軽海峡) from Honshu, Japan's main island, the city has naturally been seen as an entrance to Hokkaido. It was the second largest city in Hokkaido until 1950s and still is the third largest with a 350,000 population, surpassed only by Sapporo and Asahikawa.

Get in

By plane

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.

By train

Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station, the bullet train terminal, shown under construction
JR Hakodate Station, in the center of the city

JR trains run from Honshu to Hokkaido via the Seikan Tunnel (青函トンネル). With a total length of 53.85 km (33.49 mi), the Seikan Tunnel is currently the world's longest railway tunnel - although in 2018 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. Shinkansen services began running through the Seikan Tunnel in March 2016, connecting Hakodate to cities including Aomori, Morioka, Sendai and Tokyo.

From Tokyo it takes approximately 4 1/2 hours to reach Hakodate using a combination of two trains:

A one-way trip from Tokyo to Hakodate in standard class costs ¥22,690 each way.

The national Japan Rail Pass fully covers the journey. If you are just traveling between Tokyo and Hokkaido, consider the JR East-South Hokkaido Rail Pass, which is slightly cheaper than the national pass (¥26,000 for advance purchase). This pass covers travel from Tokyo to Hakodate, and also covers express trains from Hakodate to Sapporo. It can be used on any 6 days within a 14-day period. Unlike the national pass, however, the JR East-South Hokkaido Pass only comes in one version for standard class travel.

Both Hakodate and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto stations offer service to Sapporo on the Hokuto (北斗) limited express service (3 1/2 hours, ¥8,830).

Overnight travel

Overnight trains to Hokkaido were discontinued when the shinkansen began operations through the Seikan Tunnel in March 2016.

For journeys from Tokyo to Hakodate, it is now easier to just make the trip during the daytime. If you want to travel overnight over a longer distance (i.e. from Osaka and cities beyond), you may wish to split up your journey - stop to visit another city along the way, or simply find a station along the bullet train route where you can find cheap accommodations. The latter option is beneficial to Rail Pass holders, as only the lodging has to be paid for.

Seishun 18 Ticket

Since the Seishun 18 Ticket does not allow travel using bullet trains, users who want to go to Hakodate from Honshu must purchase a separate option ticket for ¥2300. The special ticket allows trips in any available standard class seat on Hokkaido Shinkansen trains between Okutsugaru-Imabetsu (the last bullet train stop in Honshu) and Kikonai (the first such stop on Hokkaido). It also covers travel on the private Isaribi Line between Kikonai and Goryokaku, where the rest of the local JR network can be accessed. You must be in possession of a valid Seishun 18 Ticket to purchase and use the option ticket.

Trains to areas outside of Hakodate leave infrequently (compared to areas like Tokyo where trains come every few minutes) so plan ahead.

By boat

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, starting at ¥1540 for a carpet space. The Tsugaru Kaikyo one way fares start from ¥2220 for second class (carpet space), ¥4110 for first class and ¥4940 for special class. 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.

Tsugaru Kaikyo also operates to Oma on the remote Shimokita Peninsula, with two daily round-trips. Fares start at ¥1810 for second class and ¥2220/2460 for a reserved seat. Travel time is 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Note that during the summer months and high peak travel seasons, fares can be up to 20% higher on all of the above services.

Cars and motorcycles can also be carried on the Hakodate-Oma ferry, and on some of the Hakodate-Aomori ferries.

Get around

A tram in Hakodate City

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 streetcar routes; 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.

Hotel Loisir is a 2 minute walk from JR Hakodate station which has new Panasonic electric bicycles for hire. The rate is 1000 yen for 3 hours. You may hire these bicycles even if you're not a guest.

See

View from Hakodateyama at night
Fort Goryōkaku from observation tower
European influences within Hakodate

Do

Buy

Eat

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. If you dare, eat the odori-don or ike ika-don dish, where a live squid is caught from the fish tank, its head removed, sliced and served as a side dish, and the rest placed on top of a rice bowl. The squid is so fresh that you can still see it change colours and move its tentacles on the plate as you pour the soy sauce!

Drink

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.

Sleep

Go next

Routes through Hakodate

Sapporo Oshamambe  N  S  END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.