On February 24, 2006, I took the train from Sapporo at 7 am and arrived at Hakodate at 10 am.
Hakodate was one of the three port cities in Japan to be open to foreign trade in the mid 19th century along with Kobe and Yokohama. However, while the other two cities have prospered, Hakodate seems to be in decline.
My impressions of this town is that it is overrated, the brochures make it seem better than it really is.
It seems like your typical North American mid-size city with the city centre hollowed out, like with gas stations and parking lots almost everywhere, and no pedestrian life that is present in almost every other city of Japan. Also most of the good stores are located in areas which you can only reach by car.
Although the city is lousy, the view from Mt. Hakodate was incredible.
Arrival via the limited express train from Sapporo, JR Hokkaido has a lot of interesting looking trains.
Another view of the limited express train.
Other trains at Hakodate station.
A Doraemon train!
Compared to other stations, the Hakodate station was quite new and unlike most stations in Japan, this is a terminal station.
The view from upstairs.
Leaving the station. It started to snow again...
The area outside of the station. It was interesting how there weren't many people anywhere...
Right outside of the station was the Hakodate morning market that mostly sold seafood.
Ultra fresh seafood galore!
Next I made my way to the Bay Area. There were a lot of historic red-brick buildings that were once used as warehouses.
One of the few 7-Elevens in town, which was surprising considering that they are everywhere in the large cities.
Tons of snow accumulated on the ground from the previous snowfall.
The Old Hakodate Post Office Government building, now a stylish commercial establishment.
The old red brick warehouses in the harbour.
An explanation of Hakodate's port and warehouses.
The First Concrete Electricity Pole in Japan and it is still in operation!
The "most important tourist attraction" in Japan!
Without this, how could we ever transmit power to power the endless neon signs that grace the roof of every grey-coloured-bathroom-tiled-exterior building in every generic looking city in Japan?!
Afterwards, I made my way to the Motomachi area. Like other port towns opened to foreigners in the late 19th century and early 20th century such as Kobe and Yokohama, the foreigners where only allowed to establish their residences and facilities in the hilly areas.
Inside the Motomachi area.
The Roman Catholic Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church.
Old buildings foreigners erected in the Motomachi area. The foreigners mostly built the buildings in the style of their home countries.
Site to commemorate Commodore Perry's visit to Hakodate.
The Old British Consulate.
By this time it was snowing pretty hard.
The Chinese Memorial Hall, built in the Chinese style of the time.
After exploring Motomachi, I made my way back to the port area.
Apparently, this is where the ethnic Japanese first landed when they set foot in Hokkaido.
Afterwards I headed to the old downtown area of Hakodate.
The downtown area of Hakodate was pretty sad I thought. Its pretty sad when you have to *put effort* to find a McDonalds in Japan, but there was not even one in the downtown, only a Lotteria (crappiest fast food in my opinion) and a KFC (the prices at KFC in Japan were too rich for me).
Note: Personal opinion on Lotteria, crappy tasting food, bad menu selection, and the "restaurants" are slightly dirty, although not on the level of Yoshinoya.
You know something is wrong with your city when the newest building downtown is a pachinko parlor.
The Switch Tower for streetcars.
After exploring the downtown area, I walked towards the ropeway that would take up up to Mt. Hakodate. Fortunately at this time, the weather was clearing up!
At the top looking down.
The sun gradually setting.
The sign of Mt. Hakodate and me.
The famous night view of Hakodate.
The streets of Hakodate at night.
The Bay Area red-brick warehouses at night.
Hakodate Factory, a "tourist attraction", more like a "trap" selling overpriced souvenirs (The lighting at night is nice though)