Enjoy an immersion into the history and culture of Hakodate through landmarks that reveal how the city transitioned from its 19th-century isolationist policies.
Settle in for an orientation drive around Hakodate, one of the first ports that opened to foreign trade following Japan’s period of self-isolation, which ended with the Kanagawa Treaty of 1854. Hakodate has grown to become the island’s third largest city, even though its land is somewhat limited by mountains and the sea.
In time, you will arrive in Motomachi, the district at the foot of the mountains where most foreigners lived after Hakodate was opened to the west. You’ll enjoy approximately 1 hour of free time here, to explore on your own or do some shopping. As you stroll Motomachi’s streets, you can’t help but notice the distinct styles of architecture. Highlights include a Russian Orthodox church and the former British consulate.
Visit Goryokaku, an urban park dominated by a 350-foot-high observation tower. Then, a brief walk takes you to the Hakodate magistrate’s office, a reproduction of the original, which was constructed using traditional methods and materials. Once the diplomatic center of the region, the office holds a collection of revealing artifacts that detail the cultural evolution of Hakodate. Remove your shoes, in keeping with Japanese custom, and step inside the building to view the historical exhibits.
Need to Know:
Note: Footwear must be removed before entering the Magistrate’s office.