Hokkaido 2015 – Hakodate 函館

This trip to Japan was to cover some parts of Hokkaido and Tokyo (finally)! At this time of the year, many airlines were offering attractive prices to Tokyo but I selected ANA because it’s a good airline and they have domestic flight connections.

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Japanese breakfast during my red-eye flight.

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The flight itinerary was SIN-NRT-CTS. On hindsight, it would be better to fly domestic to Hakodate instead of New Chitose Airport since ANA could do that too, but oh well.

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After landing in New Chitose Airport and collecting the rental car and having lunch, it was a long drive down to Hakodate! There were several rest stops along the way and it was well designed and equipped with necessities like hot drinks and convenience stores with interesting stuff limited to the region.

Hakodate is Hokkaido’s third largest city and is southernmost, located nearest to Honshu island of Japan. A train links Shin Aomori to Hakodate so you don’t need to fly in. From March 2016, the Hokkaido Shinkansen has commenced and it takes just 1 hour from Shin Aomori to Shin Hakodate! Previously the JR train took probably 3 hours for that route. From Shin Hakodate, you can get to Hakodate city by another train for 15 -22 minutes.

By the time we arrived in Hakodate, it was night time and time for dinner. A restaurant which I shortlisted was full so I had to settle for something else.

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Found this random restaurant which serves live ika sashimi (squid), which is specialty of Hakodate. Hakodate is famous for fishing and squid fishing in particular. Squid is basically their mascot. The food was decent and inexpensive, but nothing special and worth searching for.

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A video posted by Hungry Bird 🐥 (@hungrybird.sg) on

When you’re in Hakodate, squid is a MUST TRY! You can request to have this cooked after you’re done with the novelty.

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It was the peak season for domestic tourists within Japan because my travel dates coincided with the Silver week (5 consecutive days of weekends and public holidays), so most accommodation was full by the time I started booking. I only found out about the Silver Week when I was wondering why everything was unavailable. But I was lucky to find this service apartment style hotel listed on Agoda. It was pretty much my only choice left and it wasn’t too far from the main area. But here’s the catch – it was not listed anywhere else, and there was no review on Tripadvisor at that time so I was semi wondering if it was a scam, but it turned out to be legit and good! It was only $166 for 2 nights for 1 pax and came with breakfast. It is now listed on Tripadvisor with pretty good ratings.

Chedk out how big the room was! Big rooms are so rare in Japan. I booked for a single person but they gave me a twin room. It was also very clean and new. The property has onsen too but I didn’t check it out.

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The spread for breakfast was big and quite exciting.

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Lovely breakfast.

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Onsen eggs are a must have!

I would recommend this property to anyone looking for accomodation in Hakodate. It exceeded my expectations.

Spa & Casa Hakodate
Omoricho 25-7, Hakodate 040-0034, Hokkaido

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Hakodate is a hilly area and their slopes are a popular sight. Yes, just slopes, sounds boring but it’s quite nice in real life. There isn’t really an exact address since there are many slopes, like what this sign here says. Marked in maroon is the slope I’m currently at now but there are many others parallel to it. Just walk around and find one with a view you like.

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Slopes

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The weather wasn’t really cooperating.

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Last slope, I swear.

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After I was done with slopes, a short walk away was the Red Brick Warehouses, another icon of Hakodate. Within these warehouses are shops which sells all sorts of things – fashion, souvenirs, Lego (and you can deposit your kid there) and F&B. You can find popular cafes here as well.

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Snaffles! This brand originated from Hakodate and their cheesecakes, known as catch cakes, are famous.

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Morning tea time!

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The original flavour was so much better. It’s so good!

Snaffle’s 金森洋物館店
Suehirocho, 13−9, Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan
北海道函館市末広町13-9

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Also within the Red Brick Warehouses was Hakodate Music Box Museum sells all sorts of cute music boxes.

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse
Suehirocho, 14−2, Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan

北海道函館市末広町14-2

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Tempura for lunch at this homely shop with pretty good ratings.

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Ala carte tempura

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Tempura sets

Menu is only in Japanese so you need to know a bit.

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Ika Ten-don – ¥1000

I decided to have squid tempura because this is Hakodate. It was good! Everywhere else in the world squid may be too rubbery for tempura, but not in Hakodate.

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Premium Ten-don – ¥1200

A mix of tempura

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Premium tempura set – ¥2300

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Appetiser, part of the premium set. This one comes with more items.

Overall, the tempura here is good and has great value. Don’t expect delicate batters like high end tempuras though.

Tenya
24-4 Houraicho, Hakodate, Hokkaido

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Fort Goryokaku

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For this view, you need to go up a tower (which I think is constructed just so people can view the fort from above) which is a typical touristy place. Not very exciting unless you’re interested in the story behind it. I didn’t try going down into the fort.

Goryōkaku Tower 五稜郭
43-9 Goryokakucho, Hakodate, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan

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I love Japanese supermarkets!

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Some of the more interesting stuff.

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Love these! The strawberry stick ice cream was so good, I had it again in Tokyo.

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Went up the Mount Hakodate by ropeway hoping to catch it 30 minutes after sunset when the skies are in twilight, but 72472947941 other people wanted to do the same too. The queue for ropeway was long and packed with people. Is it like this every time? Unfortunately, it was a rainy day so it was very foggy and most of the view was blocked.

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Michelin guide rated this as a 3 star view but the experience was not good at all, due to the large crowd.

Mount Hakodate Ropeway
19-7, Motomachi, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido 040-0054 Japan

Thankfully, a good dinner saved the day.

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For rainy days like this, sukiyaki was very comforting. This is Asari Honten, a restaurant specialising in sukiyaki. It is a very old restaurant. We were lucky to get in without any reservations.

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Several courses to choose from. Prices are a steal in my opinion! A meal like this would be in hundreds in Singapore.

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The beef!

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By the way, we were seated in private tatami rooms. I love private dining rooms.

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The meal was very satisfying and so delicious. Though Hakodate isn’t near anywhere which produces good cattle and wagyu, and so it wouldn’t be the best sukiyaki place in Japan, it was still good enough if you’re sick of having squid and seafood.

Asari Honten 阿佐利本店
10-11, Horaicho, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido, 040-0043

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