Japan is one of the hottest travel destinations on the planet at the moment. The country has just finished hosting the Rugby World Cup and has now got its eyes firmly set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – so what better time to visit?
Any trip to Japan is sure to be full of history, tradition and an amazingly interesting culture that the Western world has been fascinated with for centuries. Hakodate offers cruise ships a gateway to Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, and presents the ideal mix of natural and city-based activities.
Here are three free things you may want to do when your ship arrives here during your Far Eastern cruise.
Mount Hakodate Hike
It’s impossible to miss the towering peak that looms over the city and venturing to the top will allow to enjoy one of the most iconic views of Hakodate. The quickest way to the top of the 1,096-foot mountain is by taking the three-minute journey via the Mount Hakodate Ropeway, a cable car that can be picked up from city level. However, to keep things free, you can also hike up to the top using the well-marked trail next to the station. The walk should take around one hour and the path is shaded by the trees.
The views are amazing during the day but the real jaw-dropping sight becomes apparent after dark. With the dark patches of water either side, the bright lights of the city shine bright to create a brilliant contrast.
A visit to Goryokaku offers two great experiences. The first of which is getting the chance to explore the star-shaped former citadel that has been transformed into a public park. Originally built during the Edo Period to protect the city against Western invaders, its pointed shape was a big part of its success. The remodelling work included over 1,000 cherry blossom trees being planted along the moat, making this lush area one of the best spots for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in the spring.
The innovative star shape is only really appreciated from above, though, and that brings us to the second exciting experience you can enjoy here. Climb to the top of Goryokaku Tower to look down on the fort and see the city from yet another viewpoint. The parks itself is free to enter, but there is a small charge of around £7 to ascend the tower.
Morning Market, Meijikan and Daimon Yokocho
Hakodate is well-known for being one of the best places to try some of Hokkaido’s food specialities. If you’re keen to sample some of these, you should first head to the Morning Market for the freshest seafood in the city. You’ll be overwhelmed with the choice of catches on offer, including cod, octopus and Hakodate’s main fishy staple, squid. You can even make your selection from the tank and the chef will prepare it for you, sashimi style, while you wait. Just remember, it’s not called the Morning Market for nothing, so be sure to arrive well before it closes at midday.
Meijikan is an extensive shopping centre located close to the waterfront that includes a large number of souvenir stores. As well as this, you’ll find Rusama-ya Sweets and the Seafood Market, both of which are great for trying some local delights. Satisfy your sweet tooth and indulge in some unique flavours of confectionary.
The third market offering is Daimon Yokocho, a village of food stalls in a great location close to the main train station. If you’re a fan of streetfood, you’ll love the chance to try some flavourful ramen, sushi or dashi soup.
Obviously, anything you buy from these markets won’t be free, but it’s just as fun to walk around them if you don’t intend to make a purchase. After all, one of the best ways to understand the local culture is by seeing the food they eat.
If you would like to visit Hakodate on your next Far Eastern cruise, call the team on 0800 035 0701. You can also contact us through the website for a quote or to sign-up to our mailing list.