Hakodate Winter Must-sees! Introducing some of our favorite winter sightseeing spots.
How to Enjoy Winter in Hakodate
Located in the south of Hokkaido, Hakodate is a port town surrounded by the ocean. The many charms of Hakodate include breathtaking night views, nostalgic townscapes, and delicious fresh seafood. Of all the seasons, the clear air of winter provides the best views of Hakodate’s renowned nighttime cityscape, which can be seen from Mount Hakodate. With one of Hokkaido’s warmer climates, Hakodate has less snow than most of Hokkaido. During the coldest months of January and February, cumulative snowfall reaches an average of about 35 – 40 cm. The clarion skies of deep winter add a new level of intensity to the exotic beauty of Hakodate’s old-fashioned townscapes.
Suitable clothing is of utmost importance when visiting Hokkaido in winter. The shoulder months of December and March bring repeated freezing and thawing cycles. To keep your feet dry amidst snow and slush, waterproof snow boots are highly recommended. Make sure to bring heat-retaining winter wear such as down jackets, mufflers, hats, and gloves. The peak of Mount Hakodate is often subject to cold winds. Please take extra care to dress warmly when enjoying Hakodate’s night view.
Hints for Enjoying Sightseeing in Hakodate!
Hakodate’s main sightseeing transportation is the city’s tram (streetcar) system. Trams operate on intervals of 6-12 minutes during the day, accessing most major points of interest, including Hakodate Station, Motomachi, the Bay Area, Fort Goryokaku, Yunokawa Hot Spring District, and more. The reasonably-priced ‘One-Day Tram Pass’ (adult 600 yen, child 300 yen) offers unlimited rides over a single day. To activate this convenient scratch-off pass, use a coin to scratch off the year, month, and day, then simply display the ticket to the driver as you alight from the tram. The one-day pass includes helpful tram line and sightseeing maps, and a number of local restaurants and sightseeing facilities provide special discounts or privileges when you display your pass.
One-day Pass: Unlimited rides at a very reasonable price.
- Sale Price
- Adult 600 yen, Child 320 yen
- Purchase At
- Hakodate Station Tourist Information Desk, on the Tram, and more
Recommended Winter Events
Magical lights line Hakodate’s exotic streets! See the Hakodate Illumination!
Lights line the exotic streets of Hakodate in this special winter event, transforming the city into a magical world of beauty.
At the foot of Mount Hakodate, the western district of the city is enveloped in the beautiful lights of ‘Hakodate Illumination’. With around 160,000 lights installed throughout areas including Motomachi (renowned for historical buildings such as churches), Hachimanzaka, and Nijukkenzaka, colorful illumination lines Hakodate’s streets, enveloping the town in light and creating dreamlike winter scenes of great beauty. The view from Hachimanzaka overlooking the bay is particularly popular, with the lights of the docked Mashumaru creating a picture-perfect scene.
- Hachimanzaka, Nijukkenzaka, Kaiko Street, Hakodate Stationfront Plaza
- 2019/11/30 (Sat) – 2020/2/29 (Sat)
- Sunset – 22:00
A Christmas Tree floating on the sea! Experience Hakodate Christmas Fantasy!
‘Hakodate Christmas Fantasy’ is a special celebration, featuring a massive 20-meter-tall Christmas tree floating on the sea! Twinkling magically above the waves, the tree is illuminated with about 150,000 lights. At 6:00 every evening, fireworks signal the start of the illumination display, and the bay area is enveloped in light, creating a dreamlike scene. The display lasts until 10:00 pm, and is a popular attraction after enjoying night views from Mount Hakodate or having dinner. The venue also features its own food attraction: stalls at the ‘Soup Bar Corner’ are operated by popular local restaurants, serving hearty portions of heartwarming soup.
- Plaza in front of Red Brick Warehouse
- 2019/11/30 (Sat) – 12/25 (Wed)
- Daily Tree Illumination Hours
- 16:30 – 17:45
18:00 – 22:00
A shining star amidst the snow! See the ‘Star of Dreams’ at Fort Goryokaku!
- 2019/12/1 (Sun) – 2020/2/29 (Sat)
- Goryokaku Special Historic Site (Goryokaku Park), Goryokaku Tower
- Illumination Hours
- 17:00 – 20:00 (from 2/10, 17:30 – 20:00)
- 9:00 – 18:00 (10/21 – 4/20)
9:00 – 19:00 (During ‘Star of Dreams’ Event)
6:00 – 19:00 (1/1)
- Adult 900 yen, Junior High or High School 680 yen, Elementary School 450 yen
Designated as a Special Historic Site of Japan, Fort Goryokaku is known for its characteristic star shape. The fort is surrounded by parkland featuring trees and moats, providing relaxation and beautiful seasonal views for Hakodate’s citizens and visitors alike. In winter, Goryokaku shines brightly amidst the pure white snow and nighttime shadows, its iconic star-shaped walls seeming to float in the sky. The ‘Goryo Hoshi no Yume’ (‘Star of Dreams’) event celebrates this scene of winter beauty. To best appreciate the sights, we recommend to take a stroll along the park trails, or visit the observation deck in Goroykaku Tower to overlook the entire park. Illuminated by 2,000 lights, the beauty of For Goryokaku is simply breathtaking.
Wonderful Winter Sights
In Winter, Hakodate’s magnificent night views are at their best! Experience the night view from Mount Hakodate!
Hakodate is renowned for its famous night view, which becomes all the more wonderful in winter. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Tsugaru strait.
- Mount Hakodate Ropeway, 19-7 Motomachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido
- 10:00 – 21:00 [Last Ascent 20:50] (10/16 – 4/24)
- Adult (Junior High Student and Up): One Way 1,000 yen, Round Trip 1,500 yen
Child: One Way 500 yen, Round Trip 700 yen
Stroll through the time-honored townscape of Motomachi area!
Situated at the foot of Mount Hakodate, Motomachi’s exotic townscape gets is unique character from a number of churches which were built near each other. This historic buildings include Hakodate Orthodox Church, which is Japan’s first Russian Orthodox Church, Motomachi Roman Catholic Church, which contains an altar donated by the Pope, and Hakodate St. John’s Church, which features a striking roof shaped like a brown cross. In fact, it is quite rare even worldwide to find so many churches of different denominations in one area. From Daisan-zaka, which was selected as one of “Japan’s 100 Best Roads”, you can try walking up the steep “Charichari Nobori” slope. At the top, a breathtaking view of the churches centered about the port awaits. On winter nights, the illuminated slope is a truly unforgettable scene.
Find the perfect souvenirs at Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse!
Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse is an iconic sightseeing spot standing in Hakodate’s Bay Area. Built in 1909, this historic brick warehouse has been remodeled into a shopping mall with four areas: Hakodate History Plaza, Kanemori Hall, Kanemori Youbutsukan, and Bay Hakodate. The mall features a collection of unique shops selling sweets, souvenirs, accessories, and all manners of gifts. You are certain to find a special souvenir of Hakodate here! For a break from your shopping, you will find a variety of cafes, beer halls, restaurants, and more throughout the mall and nearby. In winter, this area holds the ‘Hakodate Christmas Fantasy’ event, which features a massive Christmas tree floating in the bay right in front of the warehouse.
- 14-12 Suehiro-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
- 9:30 – 19:00 (With Seasonal Variations)
Charming Japanese macaques soak leisurely in hot springs at Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden!
Nestled in a corner of Yunokawa Hot Spring District, the ‘Saruyama Onsen’ hot spring is one of Hakodate Tropical Botanical Garden’s main attractions. Limited to the colder months of December through May, Japanese macaques warm themselves in the hot springs to withstand the cold snow and wind of winter. Their adorable expressions and charming, occasionally humorous antics are very popular among visitors. The garden also contains a foot bath for free visitor use, allowing you to warm yourself in the Saruyama Onsen source natural mineral water.
- 1-15, Yunokawa 3-chome, Hakodate, Hokkaido
- 9:30 – 16:30 (November – March)
- General Admission 300 yen, Elementary & Junior High Student 100 yen
Don’t miss the true Hakodate gourmet experience of the Hakodate Morning Market!
Boasting about 250 stores, the Hakodate Morning Market is a gourmet experience that should not be missed! Easily accessed just a minute on foot from JR Hakodate Station, the vast market offers an impressive collection of the best flavors of Hakodate, ranging from seafood to vegetables, fruit, sweets, delicacies, and more. The food court serves some of Hakodate’s freshest seafood, but we recommend to try your hand at catching squid at Ekini Market. Even first-timers can easily catch squid as they glide gracefully through the pool. The chef will swiftly prepare your catch right before your eyes, allowing you to taste the very freshest squid sashimi!
- 9-19 Wakamatsu-cho, Hakodate, Hokkaido
- 6:00 – 14:00 (Varies by Store)
Mount Hakodate is the most popular sightseeing spot in Hakodate, attracting visitors from around the world to experience breathtaking nighttime views. There are special ways to enjoy this scene in winter, which is in fact our most recommended season. The clear winter air and illumination displays throughout Hakodate make the cityscape sparkle even brighter. To enjoy the night view, we recommend to ascend to the peak 30 minutes before sunset. As the sun goes down, the cityscape takes on a blue color, which slowly deepens until the city lights can be seen: a truly magical moment. You can enjoy gradual changes in the night cityscape for about one hour following sunset.