Saturday, 6 October 2018

Summer in Hakodate 2 day Itinerary - Day 2

Day 2

Following on from Part 1 of my Hakodate trip, we got up nice and early for a walk around the neighbourhood.

I highly recommend getting up early and going for a morning stroll - it's the best time of the day to explore the streets, and it's so quiet and peaceful with just a handful of local morning exercisers.

Hakodate is such a picturesque town with many western influences due to being one of the first ports in Japan to open to foreign trade over 150 year ago.

The Lucky Perriot from my previous post, one of the many branches located around Hakodate.

Motomachi District

Motomachi district

Russian Orthodox Church

There's a number of churches around Hakodate's Motomachi district, including the grand Orthodox church founded in 1859 by the Russian Consulate.

Motomachi Catholic Church

It was also lovely seeing all these beautiful flowers dotted all over town, plus the many herb and vege gardens outside people's houses.

La Vista Hakodate Bay buffet breakfast

After the morning walk, it was time to hit the highly anticipated buffet breakfast at our hotel. One of the top ranking buffet breakfasts in Japan and it's not hard to see why - amazing Hokkaido produce and DIY fresh seafood donburi (rice bowls).

Grilled seafood and veggies

Seafood rice bowl station

Seafood donburi

The seafood was so fresh and delicious, I packed my bowl full of seafood such as prawns, squid, fish roe, tuna and scallops.

They also had a nice selection of hot dishes, both western and Japanese style. I particular enjoyed the grilled pumpkin and potato, which Hokkaido is known to be famous for. 

Miso soup

Even the miso soup selection was amazing, with several options. This one had a generous amount of clams and was delicious.

Dessert station

Caramel pudding

Selection of cakes

The cakes were served in mini bite sizes which was convenient for allowing us to sample everything.

Red bean soup with rice balls

The red bean soup was amazing, flavoursome red bean and not too sweet. We ended up getting seconds of this because it was so good!

La Vista Hakodate Bay Hotel

Address:  2-6, Toyokawaho, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0065

After breakfast, it was time to say goodbye to Hakodate and head to Sapporo. We had a bit of time at Shin-Hakodate station where I bought some cute Hakodate limited edition snacks such as these cute Snaffle buttery cookies pictured below (I bought the squid one) which were quite interesting as the cookies actually contained squid/calamari.

Stay tuned for more Hokkaido posts coming up soon.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Summer in Hakodate 2 day Itinerary - Day 1

Day 1

Hakodate Asaichi (Morning market)

After catching the shinkansen from Tokyo in the morning and transferring from Shin-Hakodate station to Hakodate station, our first stop was the Hakodate morning market with a delicious seafood breakfast in mind. I definitely recommend going here with an empty stomach, as the market has approximately 250 stores with a tempting array of fresh Hakodate seafood and produce.

1 day tram pass 

Hakodate is serviced by trams that service most of the tourist sites. As a single tram trip costs 210-250 yen, I highly recommend getting the day pass for 600 yen if you are intending to visit a few locations in one day. We picked up the pass from the Tourist Information Centre inside Hakodate Station.

The morning market is conveniently located across the road from Hakodate Station, making it a perfect location for breakfast or lunch after a long ride on the shinkansen. The market is open nice and early from 5am until around 2pm.

There's a number of restaurants as you walk past the market, all offering a delicious variety of seafood donburi (rice bowls) with replica food displayed in the window.

On the main street, Nakadori street, there's stalls selling fresh produce and seafood on both sides. 

The Hakodate Morning Market Square contains more shops and a food court area that sells other food like snacks and fried chicken.

There is no shortage of choice for places to eat at Hakodate morning market. We chose one of the smaller shops which had mainly local customers. The seafood was very fresh and I liked that there was an option to choose a smaller sized donburi.

Crab, prawn and salmon donburi

The rice bowls also come with miso soup and some side dishes, which was great value at 1,200 yen. We also tried squid and scallop sashimi (not pictured) which was excellent as well. Highly recommend ordering squid as it's a Hakodate speciality and also come with an empty stomach!

Hakodate Morning Market

Address:  〒040-0063 Hokkaido Prefecture, Hakodate, 若松町9−19

After a very satisfying lunch, we catch the tram to drop our luggage at our hotel before heading out to explore. 

The trams run on a fairly frequent basis, from 6-12 minutes. We hop on the tram from Uoichibadori tram stop, which is near our hotel and close to the Kanemori red brick warehouse area. Our first destination is to Goryokaku Koen Mae tram stop.

It's about a 20 minute tram ride and then a 13 minute walk to the Goryokaku Tower.

There are adorable sculptures dotted along the picturesque streets of Hakodate, like this one of a boy and his dog.

These cute manhole covers were everywhere too with Hakodate's most famous produce - squid! 

Goryokaku Tower (五稜郭)

July weather in Hakodate is very warm but still pleasant enough to walk around for long periods of time (unlike hot and humid Tokyo). It's a fairly flat and easy walk from the tram station to Goryokaku Tower.

Entry to Goryokaku Tower is 900 yen for adults, 680 yen for junior and high school students, 450 yen for elementary school students and free for children under 5 as at July 2018.

Fort Goryokaku is a star shaped fortress designed in 1855. The five pointed star shape allowed for a greater number of gun emplacements on it's walls compared to the traditional style of Japanese fortresses.

Goryokaku is known for having a different view each season, in summer it's all about the lush greenery. I imagine the view would be stunning during cherry blossom season! 

The tower provides a 360 view of Hakodate and also has quite a bit of interesting war history that you can read up on. 

There's a Milkissimo, a popular Hakodate gelato chain, which makes a great spot to have a break 

The menu has a array of tempting flavours, which makes it really hard to choose!

I finally decide on the very Haskap flavour, which is a native Hokkaido berry. It has a tart and refreshing flavour. The purple gelato is sweet potato which was delicious too.

On the ground floor of Goryokaku Tower, there is a cafe and an area filled with souvenirs. There's even fresh melons for sale!

Goryokaku Tower

Address:  43-9, Goryokaku-cho, Hakodate

Entry Fees
Adults - 900 yen Junior and high school students - 680 yen Elementary school students - 450yenChildren under 5 free

Opening Hours Apr. 21 - Oct. 20 8:00-19:00
Oct. 21 - Apr. 20 9:00-18:00


Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses

The Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses used to be commercial warehouses as Hakodate opened in 1859 and was the first international trading port in Japan. Nowadays have been turned into retail space with a number of shops inside. You could easily spend half a day here just exploring the stores, including a music box shop and teddy bear museum.

Whilst in Hokkaido, I recommend eating all the cakes that your stomach space will allow. The amazing dairy from Hokkaido means that any dessert you have will be incredibly good. Hakodate has several famous shops for cheesecake, including Snaffles and Petite Merveille.

The reviews appear to be slightly better for Petite Merveille and there's one conveniently located in one of the warehouses. I pick up some cakes to have as dessert later on.

Petite Merveille cheesecakes

La Vista Hakodate Bay Hotel

We stayed at La Vista Hotel in Hakodate Bay, just a 3 minute walk from the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse district. I was looking forward to staying here due to the highly rated breakfast buffet and the open air onsen.

The rooms are older but well maintained. There's coffee making supplies provided in the room to make filter coffee, as well as some mini bags of caramel popcorn. 

Our room had a beautiful view overlooking Mount Hakodate.

The main reason I booked this hotel was for the highly rated buffet breakfast, one of the best in Japan. More on that later on in this post.

After a short rest at the hotel, it was time to make our way to Mount Hakodate Ropeway. It's a 1km walk from the hotel which takes around 15 minutes. The closest tram station is Jujigai which is a 9 minute walk to the Ropeway, or alternatively you can catch the bus directly up Mount Hakodate.

If you have time, wander through the Motomachi district which has a number of beautiful historical buildings and churches. Visit Minatogaoka Street which is also known as soft serve street due to the number of shops selling soft serve.

Another version of the manhole cover, this one depicts the Kyu Hakodate-ku public hall, a colonial style building built in 1910, surrounded by the pentagon pattern of Fort Goryokaku.

Luckily it was a perfect day to watch the night view on Mount Hakodate - I think most people had the same idea to get a good spot and watch the sunset. I recommend getting here early if you want to get a good photo spot as people were already staking out spots at 5:30pm for a sunset time of 7:15pm (keep in mind that it takes over an hour to become completely dark)

Mount Hakodate sunset view

As the night progressed, it became super packed, to the point where people were not allowed to be let onto the top viewing platform where I was standing. Despite the wait and crowd, it was worth it for the amazing night view.

The iconic Mount Hakodate night view

After lining up for around 20 minutes, we got the Ropeway back down and decided to get something quick and simple dinner as it was already almost 9pm by the time we made our way back down.

Lucky Pierrot

One thing you must try when you're in Hakodate is Lucky Pierrot, a Japanese burger chain that is only found in Hakodate.

Lucky Pierrot menu

Each of the various Lucky Pierrot restaurants around Hakodate have it's own unique theme. The particular branch I visited had a number of swing seats and had a merry go around theme. Check out this blog for a more comprehensive list of the themes:

Hakodate City Lucky Pierriot branch

Pork katsu curry with rice

The menu is cheap and cheerful, with this generous serve of pork katsu curry rice priced at a very reasonable 750 yen. 

Lucky Pierrot also has a number of burgers available on their menu, with the signature item being the Chinese chicken burger.

Chinese chicken burger

The Chinese chicken burger is delicious. The juicy chicken has a sweet and sticky marinade and the burger is simple - chicken lettuce and some mayo. It's incredible value at 350 yen.

Petit Merveille peach cake and pumpkin cheesecake

By the time we had dinner at Lucky Pierrot, it was pretty late so we headed back to the hotel to call it a night, but first the desserts from the earlier shopping expedition at the Kanemori red brick warehouses. The peach dessert was a whole white peach with a cream filling, very simple but so delicious. I absolutely gorged myself on peaches during this Japan trip because they were so good! 

Stay tuned for Day 2 in Hakodate from my Japan trip....