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