Hakodate could be considered a natural gateway to the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido. Renowned for its beauty and sublime seafood, Hakodate is a city that demands to be explored, from its charming fish markets and renowned ramen restaurants to its astonishing nature. With dramatic wintry landscapes at the end of the year and the cherry blossoms that fall like snow in spring, it’s a city which remains indelible in the minds of the visitors that have been fortunate enough to experience Hakodate.

Sparkling Night Views from Mount Hakodate

As you arrive in Hakodate, with its shimmering sea and bustling markets, you see Mount Hakodate guarding and looking over the city. It’s easily accessible by a ropeway which only takes a few minutes to reach the must-visit observatory sitting atop the mountain and offering some of Japan’s most talked about views.

The view of the city below is impressive by day, but by night it can be genuinely magical. With the sea on both sides and the city glimmering in the middle, it can resemble a precious diamond ring. The light that radiates from the city sparkles, shimmers and creates a sight that is virtually unparalleled anywhere else in the country. The observatory offers panoramic views which are the perfect distance to appreciate this special northern city in all its natural glory. The lights that can be seen from atop Mount Hakodate are natural street and house lights and in recent years Hakodate city has been installing amber-colored lighting within the city to accentuate this stunning view.

Goryokaku Park Cherry Blossoms

One of the reasons, for many, to visit Japan is to marvel at its beautiful cherry blossom season. Cherry blossoms are intrinsic to Japanese culture and are considered profound symbols of the cyclical nature of life. In Hakodate city, one of the most prominent points in which to view cherry blossoms in their full splendor is Goryokaku Park. Unlike Tokyo and its other Kanto neighbors, cherry blossoms bloom a little later in the north — starting in late April and peaking in early May in Hakodate, or if they happen to be early they still start blossoming from mid-April. From atop Goryokaku Tower Observatory visitors can revel in the beautiful vistas of the star-shaped Goryokaku Fort which is encompassed by flowers.

Hakodate’s cherry blossom celebrations also include festivals where guests can enjoy some of the city’s most sought-after culinary goodies while being hypnotized by the vibrant blossoms which float indeterminately around them. The city’s local stores, cafés and stalls also offer a delightful array of cherry blossom-flavored confectionery including the famed sakura-flavored soft-serve ice cream which can be purchased at Goryokaku Tower.

If that isn’t enough cherry blossom-themed goodness, then an added bonus is that the cherry blossoms are illuminated at night so lucky visitors can see and feel the essence of these blooms which continue to transfix and enamor locals and visitors alike.

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse

After the pleasures of Mount Hakodate and cherry blossoming viewing at Goryokaku Park, many visitors to Hakodate will be in need of some retail and gastronomic therapy and this can easily be found at Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse.

Dating back over a century, Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse (which totals four facilities) is a charming and quaint commercial complex comprising restaurants, cafés, gift shops and other retail spaces. It also offers other essential services that can be used by visitors including rental bicycles, currency exchange machines, baby stroller and wheelchair rentals and coin-operated lockers. It’s an ideal location to catch a breather, take in some much needed sustenance and enjoy these historical structures that have played such an important role in the collective memories of the local residents.

The gift stores are convenient places in which to pick up souvenirs and reflect visitors’ cherished experiences while in Hakodate. For visitors at Christmas, look out for the massive Christmas tree which can be seen on a barge situated in front of the warehouse. The tree is illuminated and creates a beautiful festive atmosphere.

A Jewel of the North

Hakodate, then, is an attractive entry point to Hokkaido, an island that offers so much in terms of nature and activities. Endearing and peaceful, Hakodate city is a beautiful spot to explore and immerse yourself in the local culture, history and cuisine. Take your time, ascend Mount Hakodate on the ropeway for superb views of the city that lies peacefully below, pack a picnic and absorb yourself in the vivid and refreshing cherry blossoms and indulge yourself at Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse. The perfect city for exploring, Hakodate will remain in your memories forever.

For more information about Hakodate city please visit their official website.