Hokkaido 北海道 pt. 2

Hakodate Travel Blog

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The second half of my Hokkaido trip was spent in the seaside town of 函館 Hakodate. It's a much smaller city than Sapporo and has a lot of charm to it. Being further south on the island though, there was less snow, so I was a bit sad by that. It is an interesting layout though, located on the southwest corner of Hokkaido, the city is on a peninsula, with a mountain that overlooks the city, located at the point. There is water surrounding three sides of the city, so it feels very much like a fishing village.

The train ride between Sapporo and Hakodate was relaxing.
朝市 morning fish market
It took about 3 hours, but the view was beautiful. I timed it so I saw the sunset over the Hokkaido landscape. After getting into Hakodate, I figured out my bearings and located my hotel. It was an interesting experience because even though it's a small town, it's large enough that you can't walk everywhere, especially with just a dinky tourist map and in the cold, black night. Luckily, there's a series of trams (more like trolleys) that dissect the main regions of the city. After deciphering the time table, I was able to catch the right one to my hotel.

Upon checking in, I reoriented myself and went to a local pub for dinner (another recommendation from my guide book). Situated at the base of Hakodate Mountain, I entered to find it nearly deserted with the exception of one other party. The bartender/cook/waiter was a friendly fellow who seemed happy to have another customer.
It was just right. I enjoyed some kind of beef/cheese dish while watching "The Host" (a Korean horror/comedy flick) inside the rickety, cozy building. For half a second, I felt like I was back in Alaska, sitting in a local bar, enjoying the atmosphere and the thought of being hundreds of miles away from home. Oh yeah, the name of the pub? The Jolly Jellyfish.

I decided to have an early night, so I went back to the hotel to watch Japanese TV and go to sleep. The next morning was grey and drizzly. A perfect day to go for a walk and a dip in the onsen. But first, the morning fish market or 朝市. Similar to the other fish markets, there were displays of fresh catches of crab, lobster, salmon, and almost every type of Japanese seafood imaginable. I dropped into one of the restaurants for a donburi of salmon, crab, and fish eggs.
函館親子丼 Hakodate version of the oyako-donburi
A great way to start out the morning. Oh, I also had another scoop of squid ice cream and coffee.

Energized, I moved on to my next destination: 谷地頭温泉 Yachigashira Onsen. This onsen was more like a large spa. Because I came during the middle of a weekday, it was filled with elderly people. In fact, it was almost crowded. Not about to let that get in the way of my relaxation time, I spent an hour in the baths. I decided to take a walk after my bath down to the south side of the mountain peninsula, to 立待岬 tachimachi cape. I passed through a cemetary that overlooked the port. Despite the cloudy haze, it was quite nice. At the end of the road, I was met by the cape overlooking 津軽海峡 Tsugaru-kaikyou (channel that separates Hokkaido from Honshu, mainland Japan). Being able to see the ocean and feel the sea breeze was so refreshing.
After living in crowded Tokyo, it's nice to be able to see clear water stretch out to the horizon.

I turned around and went back into town. I stopped by a Shinto Shrine and grabbed an obento lunch from the grocery store. I took a short nap back at the hotel before heading to 箱館山 Hakodate mountain. All the major tourist mountains here in Japan, with the exception of Fuji, seem to have convenient ropeways that take passengers up to the top in about five minutes. Being that it was getting dark quickly, I hopped on the ropeway and rode to the top. The view was spectacular, exactly like the postcard image I had seen in the travel advertisements prior to coming to Hokkaido.
I enjoyed it nonetheless. At the top, there are four different viewing levels, a cafe, a restaurant, and a huge souvenir shop. I had some hot cocoa while looking down at the city lights of Hakodate.

For dinner, I descended the mountain and walked to the west side of town to the other port. There was a nice wharf comprised of several red-bricked warehouses that had been converted into restaurants and shops. It started raining, but it added to the romantic feeling of walking around the wharf. I ate dinner at a restaurant overlooking the port and had more squid and special Hakodate ale.

The next morning, I checked out of my hotel early and dropped my bags off at the station. With about a day in between me and my return flight, I decided to hit another onsen on the other side of town. I grabbed some coffee and an eclaire at the local bakery and then took a long walk on the otherside of the west side of the peninsula.
you can buy just about anything from a vending machine, including tickets to enter the onsen!
I just walked, not having a particular destination in mind, and I discovered some really great places along the way. I passed by the Fishing Port and saw the squid boats. They are distinctly marked by the series of large halogen lanterns hanging across the deck; the lights are used to attract the squid to the surface. I continued my walk and passed by a Buddhist temple and cemetary. I also happened to stumble across the 外国人墓地 Foreigner Cemetary, which holds many English, Russian, and French people who happened to die in or around Hakodate. An interesting look at some of the colonial history of the town.

I continued my long walk down the road, trailing the rim of the peninsula, and which eventually turned into a dirt road that came to a dead end. I decided to continue walking beyond the road and out onto the rocky shoreline.
the waterfront wharf, hackodate
I discovered this neat cove at the end of my path. A couple of fishermen were there, but they seemed disinterested by my presence. I suppose, had my path not been dissected by an inlet of the ocean, I would've walked clear around to the other side. As it was, I took a seat on the rocks and enjoyed the peaceful ocean view.

I eventually made it back into town and ate lunch at an American hamburger stand. I then hopped on the trolley and went to the other side of town to 湯の川温泉 Yunokawa onsen. I found a tiny little onsen off the main road that seemed like a fitting place to stop and soak. It was small, but no one was there. The water was almost scalding hot in the inside bath, but there was a much cooler outside bath that was perfect. It's a wonderful thing to sit in an outdoor onsen. After my bath, I went back to the station to shop for some souvenirs, then hopped on a bus to the Hakodate airport.
I caught a late flight and got back into Tokyo around 21:15. I was greeted by a heavy rain and crowds of Friday night commuters. I almost hopped back on the plane and returned to Hokkaido.

All in all, this was a wonderful trip. It was everything I had expected and more, and if given the chance, I would head back there in an instant.
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朝市 morning fish market
朝市 morning fish market
函館親子丼 Hakodate version o…
函館親子丼 Hakodate version …
you can buy just about anything fr…
you can buy just about anything f…
the waterfront wharf, hackodate
the waterfront wharf, hackodate
cloudy on mt. hakodate
cloudy on mt. hakodate
the frozen hokkaido landscape
the frozen hokkaido landscape
inside the jolly jellyfish
inside the jolly jellyfish
i love this sign, its not even a …
i love this sign, it's not even a…
i couldnt help but think of super…
i couldn't help but think of supe…
one of the many quiet roads i wand…
one of the many quiet roads i wan…
the view from my hotel
the view from my hotel
the peninsula, hakodate city as se…
the peninsula, hakodate city as s…
the view that makes hakodate famous
the view that makes hakodate famous
this post box is labeled for outgo…
this post box is labeled for outg…
立町岬 cape tachimachi
立町岬 cape tachimachi
the trolley that runs through hako…
the trolley that runs through hak…
squid boats with their lanterns
squid boats with their lanterns
drying squid
drying squid
the foreigners cemetary
the foreigner's cemetary
the dirt road that led me to the e…
the dirt road that led me to the …
the end of my path along the rim o…
the end of my path along the rim …
いかめし ika-meshi (squid)
いかめし ika-meshi (squid)
more squid
more squid
waiting to head back at hakodate a…
waiting to head back at hakodate …
Hakodate
photo by: tj1777