Favourite Places in Japan: Hakodate

Continuing with my posts about favourite places in Japan (see also here), I’m going to write a bit about another – Hakodate (函館). Hakodate is located towards the southern end of the northern island of Hokkaido.

I have been to Hakodate a few times now – for a variety of different reasons. The first time was for tourism, to go to Mount Hakodate to see the famous night time view. My memory is that the weather wasn’t great that time, but I went back another time and got some lovely photographs, including this one which features also in my book Japan: The Basics.

The view is absolutely stunning, said to be one of the best, not only in Japan, but also the world.

The picture also contains some of the other places that I have visited in Hakodate. Towards the top right of the photo, you can make out a horizontal strip of lights. This is Hakodate Airport – much more central than the shinkansen station (which is someway outside the city centre to aid with the routing for the Hokkaido Shinkansen which will eventually terminate in Sapporo). I went to the airport, and the prefectural government building, to conduct interviews about the transportation links between Hakodate and other locations. It was after this visit, during my busiest trip to Japan, that I had one of my strangest coincidences when visiting Japan (see that post).

While at Hakodate Airport that time, I also took one picture that I was particularly happy with. I had seen the family see off, I assume, their daughter and then wait to see the plane depart. Although you cannot see the man’s face, perhaps because I had seen the whole scene playout, I can sense the variety of emotions as the father watches on.

On another visit to Hakodate, I went to visit the memorial for the Toyamaru sinking which I have written about in another post (marked near the top of the map by Nanaehama station). During that visit, I also went to the Goryokaku Tower, which is both marked in the map above and is also visible in the night view of Hakodate. The Tower itself is quite unremarkable, but the view it gives over the neighbouring castle remains with the distinctive five-pointed moat and park are amazing.

You also get great views across the city and to the airport, and although after cropping it’s a bit blurry, I like this picture I got.

I was meant to back another time, but unfortunately my flight from Osaka was cancelled due to a typhoon – one of the few times by travel plans have been impact by a typhoon – but I hope to get back again sometime. In the meantime, Hakodate features in my third novel, FOUR.

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