Food Travel Winter in Japan

Japan Year-end Getaway : Hello White Winter in Hakodate!

Thanks to limited-stop Hayabusa, Hokkaido Shinkansen, our trip from Japan’s northeast province to northernmost island was extremely interesting. The service from Sendai station to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station takes roughly three hours including penetrating through undersea Seikan Tunnel. This underground passage connects Aomori prefecture on the main land of Honshu with the island of Hokkaido.

The plan was to spend one night somewhere close to Hakodate station so that we could dedicate the next morning seeking our way around town. With all the research and the condition of availability, Hotel Paco Hakodate was the best choice of accommodations. No exceeding 10 minute walk southeast from the station but dragging luggage along an icy and slippery road with showering snow make me feel this ten minutes last like forever.

Hotel Paco Hakodate

The hotel was quite impressive with the indoor onsen opens until late night. Too bad that I was too tired to drag myself out after the check-in. I found that their breakfast buffet is excellent. Everything is amazingly delicious. There were varieties of steamed vegetables and freshly grilled salmon situated next to the seafood rice bowl corner. But what charmed my tastebud the most was at the toast bar. The famous Hokkaido butter and mellow sweet honey were catered with well toasted croissants. With all those courses, I was fully energized and so ready to start the day!

Hakodate Station

We visited this spectacular harbor city of Hakodate on the first week of January. Since we made up our visit at this time of year, pretty much of the shaggy snow whitening the whole area is something we did anticipate. After checking out from the hotel, we dropped our luggage and stuff at Hakodate station. A little tip here. The station is not big. So, there weren’t enough coin lockers for everyone. Don’t be devastated yet. You can also leave your belongings at the post office located on 2nd floor nearby the coin locker corner. They cost you 800yen per item. If you don’t mind a bit of walking, you can also crash around the fish market (only 3-5 minute walk from the station) where more coin lockers are installed.

Hakodate Morning Market

We decided to go see everything in a walkable distance. Our first targeted place was Hakodate’s famous sightseeing spot, Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse. To get there from JR train station you have to take yourself through the morning fish market where my attention was unbearably stalled. The market boasts hundreds of stores selling take-home souvenirs like seafood products in particular.  Before we know it, we already found ourselves sitting in a restaurant in Donburi Yokocho restaurant arcade whose main theme is sashimi rice bowl. If you’re in to savoring fresh crab, salmon caviar, sea urchin and other seafood delights, then this is the heaven for you. I ended up ordering a mini bowl of sea urchin and salmon roe. The seasoning of the dish may be different in each store, but one thing you can be sure of is that everything is always very fresh.

Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse

After fueling with succulent seafood delights, it’s time to hit what we aimed to in the first place, Kanemori Warehouse. There are seven (or maybe eight) buildings in total. They were very first commercial warehouses in Hakodate as the port opened in 1859 but now converted into shopping and dining place. It was really nice exploring this symbol place of the city on the day it was completely beautified by snow.

Gokoku Shrine

It was late in the afternoon when we left the warehouse and went straight to Motomachi neighborhood for other interesting things to see. We found Gokoku Shrine on the way and once we clime up to the last step of stairs that lead us to the tori (traditional Japanese gate), our breaths were taken away (metaphorically of course). The scenery up here is incredible. The panoramic view of the bay can be observed. This is the best secret place we discovered in Hakodate winter.

To sum up my journey in Hakodate, one day is definitely not enough for me since there is a lot more thing to see, many recommended dishes to try, and surely numerous hidden spots to discover. Cannot wait to come back for more…

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