Aigoo Adventures: Hakodate 2017

Aigoo Adventures

My most recent travel adventures took me to Hakodate, a city on the southern tip of Hokkaido, the northernmost Japanese island. I’d been planning this solo trip since last August, and I finally visited there from April 20-25. This post is all about my trip in the city, and it’s full of photos. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, the photos will be familiar, but these come with a detailed synopsis. Enjoy this post!

Jetting to Japan

ANA Flight Seeing Mt Fuji Map of TC's Adventures

Thursday had me waking up at the ungodly hour of 4:00 in the morning. The bus ticket lady’s older brother picked me up in his cab at 5:15am, and he drove me to Gimpo Airport. I checked in with ANA and wandered around the airport until my flight left at 7:45am. During the flight, I saw Mt Fuji! My special oriental vegetarian meal wasn’t that great. When we landed in Haneda Airport, I had a three-hour wait for my connecting flight. I killed time by transferring from the international to the domestic terminal, and I cursed at the fact that I couldn’t access the airport wi-fi. My flight to Hakodate was only about an hour. I arrived there with no issues, and I took the airport limousine bus to Hakodate Grande Hotel; the walk to my hotel was three minutes.

Hello, Hotel!

La Jolie Motomachi Queen Double Room in La Jolie Motomachi Queen Double Room in La Jolie Motomachi

La Jolie Motomachi was the hotel I chose for my trip. It’s a pretty pricey hotel, but I splurged on this hotel for several reasons. I’d fallen in love with the queen double room, loved the fact that there is free-flow alcohol every night in their lounge, and adored the hotel’s location, for it’s near so many of the things I wanted to see. This hotel was very much worth the price for me. I checked in without any issues, picked L’Occitane for my bath amenities, and received my pocket wi-fi!

Meeting the Mountain

Riding the Ropeway to Mt Hakodate View from Mt Hakodate Curry Tonkatsu Meal in Genova Night View from Mt Hakodate Aperitif Hour in La Jolie Motomachi

I didn’t stay in my room long. I was there long enough to explore its content and set up my pocket wi-fi. Oh, and I pulled out my winter jacket and scarf. This place was a lot colder than Seoul! When I left, I walked to Hakodate Ropeway in about five minutes, with the slope nearly killing me. Once there, I purchased my round-trip ticket, and I rode up to Mt Hakodate. At the observatory, I took in the beautiful view of the city. I wanted to see the night view, but I had an hour to wait. I chose that time to eat dinner at Genova, the restaurant in the observatory. I had the curry tonkatsu set, which wasn’t anything special. Then I froze my arse in the cold for the night view. I’d found the perfect spot, and I wasn’t leaving it, haha! The sparkling view was worth the wait. So was the sparkling wine I had back at my hotel! The lounge free-flow alcohol consists of red wine, white wine, beer, hard cider, and sparkling wine from 5:00-9:00pm every night! That and my Chromebook made for a relaxing evening.

Beloved Breakfast Buffet

Breakfast Buffet in La Jolie Motomachi Breakfast Buffet in La Jolie Motomachi Breakfast Buffet in La Jolie Motomachi Breakfast Buffet in La Jolie Motomachi

This was my hotel’s breakfast buffet every day, and it was delicious and awesome. They had a hot food station, yoghurt and cake station, fruit and veggie station, Japanese station, bread station, and a drinks station. Holy cow. I fell in love with their croissants, panna cotta, and Matsumae pickles. This buffet was perfect for those wanting a little of everything!

Goryokaku Gushing

Goryokaku Tower Goryokaku Park from Goryokaku Tower Hakodate City View from Goryokaku Tower Ice Cherry Blossom Latte

Friday came, and I rode the tram to Goryokaku area. My first stop was to visit Goryokaku Tower, which gave me a great view of Goryokaku Park and the rest of the city! I also tried the ice cherry blossom latte. It was just a latte with ice cream, and I didn’t think the pink part had any flavour.

View of Goryokaku Tower from Goryokaku Park Hakodate Magistrate's Office Hakodate Magistrate's Office The View of Goryokaku Tower from Hakodate Magistrate's Office

I left the tower and walked to the actual park. This used to be a fort, with the former magistrate’s office in the centre. This restored building showed the former offices and residence of the Tokugawa Shogunate Rebels during the Boshin War. This place was featured in Hakuouki, so I was stoked to finally visit this place!

Motomachi Meanderings

Shio Ramen at Shin Hakodate Ramen Mame-san

I returned to my hotel and asked the receptionist for a ramen restaurant recommendation. She guided me to one located thirty seconds away from the hotel, and I had the shio ramen. The noodle and the broth were so good!

Hakodate Community Design Centre Hachiman-zaka Slope Soma Company Building Mt Hakodate from Midori-no-shima Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse from Midori-no-shima

After lunch, I decided to explore the Motomachi area. The first portion had me stop at the Hakodate Community Design Centre, Hachiman-zaka Slope, Soma Company Building, and Midori-no-shima. The slope is the most picturesque slope in the city. The buildings’ architecture interested me a lot. And the views from Midori-no-shima weren’t so bad, either! I stopped by a cafe called Joe & Raccoon for some coffee.

Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward The View from the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward Old Branch Office of Hokkaido Government Old British Consulate Western Side of the Old British Consulate Cake and Tea Set at Victorian Rose

The next area I explored was the “western building” area. This and the “religious area” below were on my itinerary for tomorrow, but I moved them up because I had time and tomorrow’s weather was forecasted to be rainy. Anyway, the western building area was neat. I really like the Old Public Hall building. It was so grand. You can even pay to dress up as a noble person, but I didn’t do that. Instead, I just wandered around the building, pretending I was one, haha. With the Old Branch Office, I just admired the outside. I was more interested in the Old British Consulate. I went in there, explored, and took a break at its tea room with some tea and cake.

Motomachi Roman Catholic Church Hakodate Orthodox Church Ōtani Hongan-ji Hakodate Betsu-in

The religious area had me checking out the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, and Ōtani Hongan-ji Hakodate Betsu-in, a Buddhist temple.

Shopping Station

Hakodate Morning Market JR Hakodate Station Boni-Moriya

Saturday had horrible weather. That made me switch things around with my itinerary. Taking the tram, I went to Hakodate Morning Market near the station, and there I found the Japanese skincare products I wanted. Then I went to the station to ask where I could buy stationeries at the tourist information desk. They guided me to a bookstore in Boni-Moriya. Thankfully, I found the stationery products I was looking for, including the Apica notebooks I wanted.

More Meanderings

Zaru Soba at Soba Saisai Kuru Ha

I dropped off my shopping stash and then went on a hunt for this soba restaurant. I went around in circles for a few minutes, but I found it. I had no idea what I’d ordered, for the menu had no photos, English, or Korean. I just chose the cheapest item on the menu. Turned out, it was zaru soba, cold dipping soba. It was yummy!

A Street in Hakodate Gokokujinja-zaka Slope

After lunch, I wandered around my hotel area for a bit, and then I spent the afternoon writing out postcards in the lobby with some green tea. I’d not slept well the night before, so I didn’t mind taking it easy.

Hirekatsu Tonkatsu Set at Tonetsu

For dinner, I went to a tonkatsu restaurant I saw earlier, and one my hotel recommended. I ordered the hirekatsu set, and it was delicious. This and the ramen I had earlier were my favourite meals during my stay!

Touring Time

Entrance to Hakodate Hachiman Shrine Hakodate Hachiman Shrine Charms in Hakodate Hachiman Shrine Hekketsuhi ~ A Shrine to the Fallen Shgounate Warriors

For Sunday, I signed up for a tour guide from the Hakodate Goodwill Guide Association. It only cost 3,000 yen for a three to four-hour long tour, along with any transportation or admission fees. My tour guide was an older lady in her 50s, who came with her husband. The couple were lovely! They spoke English very well. Anyway, the weather cleared up beautifully. They drove me to the parking lot outside of Hakodate Hachiman Shrine. We visited the shrine and Hekketsuhi, a shrine to the fallen shogunate warriors.

Walking Past a Cemetery with a View Cape Tachimachi Cape Tachimachi Cape Tachimachi

From the shrines, we walked to Cape Tachimachi, which took about fifteen minutes. On our way to the cape, we passed a cemetery with a view. At the cape, I enjoyed seeing the sea. It was so relaxing for me and the views were fantastic!

Onigiri and Oden Set at Sabō Mukuri

The sweet couple took us to a restaurant they like, and there they ordered me an oden and onigiri set. It was delicious! Then they took me to Rokkatei, a famous Hokkaido dessert brand, and I went crazy in that shop (located next to Goryokaku) and bought a lot of gifts.

Afternoon Aimlessness

Hachiman-zaka Slope Cafe Patate Tram at Jujigai Station

With nothing else on my agenda, I returned to wandering around the neighbourhood. I returned to Hachiman-zaka Slope for another photo opportunity. I also tried to go to this one museum, but they were getting ready to close, so I just went to a brand new cafe that opened up today called Cafe Patate. I’d seen it earlier with my tour guides, and they pointed out the place to me. I enjoyed checking out a brand new place!

Basking the Bay

Hakodate Bay Area Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse Hakodate Meijikan

On Monday, my last full day in the city, I walked to the Bay Area. They are known for their old buildings that they turned into shopping malls. I really like the buildings’ appearances. Today was another beautiful day, and I enjoyed checking this area out. Then I went shopping, haha!

Tea Time

Kyu Chayatei Green Tea Set at Kyu Chayatei Sweets at Kyu Chayatei

After I dropped off my shopping stash at my room, I walked back towards the Bay Area to check out this Japanese tea house. Kyu Chayatei is a wonderful place. The inside was very western, but I enjoyed my Japanese green tea set, with the sweets and the sherbet!

Whimsical Wealth

Old Soma Residence Old Soma Residence Main Gathering Hall inOld Soma Residence Western Room in Old Soma Residence Really cool Boshin War Painting in Old Soma Residence The View from the Veranda in Old Soma Residence Backside of Old Soma Residence Backside of Old Soma Residence Backside of Old Soma Residence

The day before, I’d tried to go to a museum, but I went around its closing time. I decided to try again, and this place, Old Soma Residence, turned out to be one of my favourite museums. This is a showcase of a prominent, wealthy businessman’s home, and I saw what it was like to live in a Japanese style house with a western room or two. The garden was small but really tranquil. They also use the storeroom as a small art gallery — there I found a powerful painting depicting the Boshin War. Given the choice, I would have bought the painting if I could!

Final Fancies

Hachiman-zaka Slope Hakodate Bay Bar Shares Hishii Gin and Tonic at Bar Shares Hishii

After the museum, I returned to Hachiman-zaka Slope one last time, walked straight down to the bay, and then stopped by a diner called California Baby to have lunch. Then I went on a hunt to look for this instant yakisoba, and it took me two supermarkets and four convenience stores to find it. To end my night, I checked out Bar Shares Hishii, near my hotel, and it was a cosy bar. The bartender and I talked a bit, and he made me a great gin and tonic.

Heartful Homecomings

Packed for Return Trip Souvenirs from Hakodate and Haneda

Packing was a struggle, but I’d managed to stuff everything into my three bags. I took the bus to Hakodate Airport, and I had fun watching planes land and take off in their observatory deck. I flew to Haneda and bought a few more gifts there. When it was time for my second flight, I had a much better oriental vegetarian meal. The bus ticket lady’s brother picked me up at Gimpo Airport, and I made it home safely. With this said, this concludes my trip. I had a blast in Hakodate. I’ll write a separate thoughts post soon. This post is already lengthy as it is! Hope you guys enjoyed my trip breakdown and the photos! ^^

Comments

  1. I’m so glad you had a great time! I love all of the photos and the scenery looks absolutely amazing.

    I see lots of older Japanese houses in the animes I watch and I’m sure it was a thrill to be able to step inside one of them.

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  2. Yay! I was looking forward to your Hakodate post. I did see a lot of your pictures on social media but it’s interesting seeing it in a blog format too because it’s chronological, haha.

    Hakodate looks very picturesque! I like the older style buildings. I like that it doesn’t have the city feel but also still looks like a big town. All the natural hills look really nice too! It also sounds like you had a great time! After seeing your (and others) great trip posts, it makes me want to travel by myself (maybe when I’m a little older with a bit more money, haha).

    Can’t wait to read your follow up post!

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  3. Glad your Hakodate trip went well! Your hotel sounds amazing – did they let you pick your bath amenities? If so, that’s so cool. And the food and drinks sound great too. That buffet though! I don’t think I’ve ever stayed anyway that fancy! Hope you enjoyed it!

    All the photos look fantastic. Japan is so beautiful and I really love all the architecture. I really hope I get to visit one day! The Old Soma Residence museum looks particularly interesting. I love the painting!

    I always find packing difficult when coming back from a trip. I’m definitely a big souvenir buyer! Glad you managed to get everything packed!

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  4. Thanks for sharing your experience at Hakodate. So much Western/European influences around the architecture, blended in with the traditional Japanese concepts that we’re all familiar with. I always wanted to visit Sapporo, just the entire Hokkaido in general (especially learning about the Ainu people who live there) but Hakodate is very refreshing. Just seeing the pics, Hakodate (and probably the rest of Hokkaido) really contrasts the rest of the major cities (Tokyo, in particular).

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  5. Ahhh I’ve been waiting for this! I already saw the photos! Soooo I think I would have stayed at that hotel too just for the food. But I apparently no longer do hotels when traveling just to save money. :P I miss those days!

    Is it just me or does the Motomachi area look European too? I swear those photos look like pictures of Iceland or Sweden. Just like the Bay Area. The water looks amazing though! It definitely looks cold since Hokkaido is the north island, right?

    For a sec I thought those photos of the museum was a house you were gonna stay at. :P Think everyone stays at a traditional Japanese house at some point in their travels!

    I’m jelly you live close enough to Japan to explore unique parts of it! The entire country is so beautiful that it’s worth several trips.

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  6. I’m so in love with Japan.

    All of these photos had me drooling! I would love to visit Hokkaido while I’m there, but even if I can’t it’s definitely high on my places to visit when I go back.

    The photography is wonderful! There are so many beautiful places there, and you definitely hit some great spots. Personally, I’m a fan of the rainy weather and would’ve spent the entire day outside, shopping and enjoying the coolness. ;) But I know a lot of people think rain is terrible weather! I’m just a bit biased since I don’t come from a particularly rainy place.

    I’m glad you had such a great time! I can’t wait to go through Japanese skincare products, ha. I’m sure there are some serious gems that will end up replacing some of my Korean ones! I really like the Japanese skincare products I have now. :P

    Packing is the worst. Props for making it happen! I know I’d have a rough time. Sometimes, when I have too much, I just ship a large portion of stuff home haha.

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  7. Welcome back from your trip to Hokkaido! Even though you had to wake up super early, it’s worth the effort! I love how luxurious your hotel looks. It’s great whenever you feel like you make the most out of what you spent. Free alcohol is always good ;).

    The view of the city looks amazing!!! it’s great that you came prepared and brought your winter jacket after all. Definitely worth freezing a bit for great views.

    The breakfast at the hotel looks delicious! AYCE smoked salmon is FTW. The tower looks amazing. This makes me want to go out to Japan even more. *one of these years* XD. It’s interesting to see the western style structures in Japan. I somehow think of that typical temple-like styling. The beach looks amazing as well!

    Kudos to you for traveling on your own like a boss!! From a place like this, I can definitely see why it doesn’t feel good going home XD.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  8. I love all the photos you took, and it looks like you had a wonderful time! When I think of Hokkaido I always think of snow and onsen, but clearly there’s a lot more to this island than just that ^^;

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  9. I love that you’re so near to Japan! Jealous! We’re at least three hours away. Anyway, Hakodate looks like a special place, so much old world feel from your photos. <3 And the hotel you stayed in looks a bit like it can come out in a Wes Anderson movie, lol.

    By the way, slightly unrelated. I was in South Korea in February. I thought of shooting you an email and possibly meeting, but I didn't have enough time to come up to Seoul :( I stayed in Daegu and Busan instead. Hopefully I can go back next year for Seoul!

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  10. Welcome back from your trip to Hakodate! I have been following you as you were away on social media and really loved seeing the updates! Your photos rocked on Twitter and now I’m glad to see them all in one blog with stories behind them. As I read this I felt like I was experiencing it with you, which is awesome!

    I’m glad that you had a safe flight. I definitley agree with everything you said about the hotel. I had the same thing about Nice. I paid a little extra for a convient location. I actually just booked a flight to NYC next month and may do the same as I did in Nice and as you did in Hakodate. Location should be convienant and close by everything else! It looks like your room and the hotel services was great though which I’m happy to hear about – you deserve the best and most relaxing place especially since you worked really hard for it 💪🏼

    That view in the day vs at night has given me goosebumps. I have to say it’s well worth freezing your ass off to see that! Haha, I know that it’s worth it if I was in your case ;) I’m all about views! What an experience! That show of your cherry blossom latte (wow, thats a thing?) is gorgeous! 😍 Views for dayyyyssss!

    Reading this post has reminded me how much I love and want Ramen. ASAP. 😂

    Seems like you saw some awesome sights – it looks like you walked alot and saw so many different things too! Tea room with tea and cake = how very British of you ;)

    I’m glad that everything fit into your bags OK! I’m smiling at all the stuff you brought back, I always just pack enough to fit all my clothes and never bring lots back but when I go to NYC I think I would do so :P

    I’m so glad you had a great time Tara! <3 Hope you had some time to rest after and relax further. :D Book another trip soon!! (Oh wait 😆😉)

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  11. Wow, lots of great photos! I like the water ones the best! Sounds like you had an awesome time!

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  12. Your hotel looks really nice! That’s great that its location was so convenient too. Wow, the view you got of the city from Mt. Hakodate is beautiful. That’s definitely worth dealing with the cold temperature!

    It’s kind of funny because a day or two before your entry, I saw a picture and mention of Goryokaku Park somewhere. I didn’t realize it was in Hakodate! I love the star shape that it’s in, and that’s cool that you got to see the place in real life after seeing it in Hakuouki.

    Oohh, the buildings and architecture in the Motomachi area is interesting and pretty. It looks so Western that I wouldn’t have expected it to be in Japan. That’s also a good price for a tour guide! It looks like she showed you some great spots. The view from Cape Tachimachi is beautiful.

    The Old Soma Residence looks like a museum I’d like to see because I’m a big fan of seeing Japanese style houses. All of your food photos remind me of how much I love the food in Japan, too. Aahhh I totally want some now. I still haven’t tried a tea house in Japan. I need to add it to my list of to-dos for next time!

    Hakodate looks like such a lovely city! I’m glad you had a great time and was able to pack everything to bring back!

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  13. *gets coffee and settles in for a fun post* 😉

    First things first, I am so glad you chose that hotel in the end. Although, all the ones you showed me were pretty awesome, La Jolie Motomachi was 😍 I am so glad it lived up to the expectation. Also, sometimes you just gotta splurge a bit when on your vacation – treat yo self 2k17! Also, free-flow alcohol? It gets 5 stars just for that, IMO. And a breakfast buffet? I. AM. SOLD. 👏🏾

    Mt. Hakodate has an amazing view. Blimey! I would love to visit and see it, IRL.

    I love how rural everything looks. Like you know that old timey-wimey village feel? It look seems so relaxed, and like you can just enjoy life. Could definitely do with visiting a place like Hakodate. The architecture is so unique, as well!

    Also, it’s morning time over right now and the food pictures are making me HUNGRY. Everything looks so good, nom nom nom. I also love that you went to the Old British Consulate and had tea. Darling, you are SO posh. 😜

    I’m glad the tour went well and I’m glad the couple were lovely! Tours are great, especially when they’re done by locals because they’ll know all the secrets and the ins and outs of the area.

    It looks like you had such an amazing trip! Can’t wait to read your follow up post. I loved ALL your photos – they really captured Hakodate well and makes me want to visit now!

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  14. Hehe, I spy with my little eye…Tara’s favorite milk tea drink. (I’m glad you’re able to stock up on the important things. XD)

    Hakodate sounds like a lovely and relaxing area to visit by yourself. You can take your time at the museum and enjoy the scenery without any rush.

    And holy cow, that is the mother of all breakfast buffets! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. So many wonderful options!!

    Your photos are great and this post gave a nice recap of your trip. (I still haven’t posted about my trip to Japan and Korea….it’s so hard to write without going into a giant novel..I’m not good with summarizing…)

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