Hakodate, Japan

hakodate sign hakodate drain cover

Hakodate has a very cosmopolitan air, partly because it had more contact with other countries in the past, and partly because it did not suffer heavy bombing during WWII.

The port of Hakodate was surveyed by a fleet of five U.S. ships in 1854 under the conditions of the Treaty of Kanagawa, as negotiated by Commodore Matthew Perry. Hakodate port partially opened to foreign ships for provisioning in the following year and then completely to foreign trade on 2 June 1859 as one of three Japanese open ports designated in the 1858 Treaty of Amity and Commerce signed with the U.S.

British merchant, naturalist and spy, Thomas Blakiston, took up residence in Hakodate in the summer of 1861 to establish a saw milling business and in doing so acquainted the city with western culture. He stayed in Hakodate until 1884.

As one of few points of Japanese contact with the outside world, Hakodate was soon host to several overseas consulates. The Russian consulate included a chapel from where Nicholas of Japan is credited with introducing Eastern Orthodox Christianity to Japan in 1861 (now the Japanese Orthodox Church). The Orthodox church is neighbored by several other historical missionary churches, including Anglican and Catholic.

fish hakodate market food hakodate market

The local fish market has a remarkable selection including live fish and crustaceans. The Japanese certainly like their fish.

tram interior hakodate tram hakodate

We bought a tram ticket, to get round. The advantage of the tram is that you cannot get lost! It quickly whisked us from one end of the town to the other

temple gate hakodate temple hakodate

We started by going to the east end of the tram line, and went to the temple that was supposed to be where the source of the hot spa water arose. But we could not find the source, though we did find the temple!

blossom time in hakodate blossom hakodate

Blossom time in Japan is very important and scenic. Fort Goryokaku was where we went to see the cherry blossoms. It is a "European" designed fort, completed in 1864. It never saw any action and most of the fort was demolished and this is now a large park and popular cherry-blossom spot in spring.

street statue hakodate

The streets of the town had the occasional surprise, like this little fellow

fishing boats hakodatejapanese garden hakodate

From there we took the tram to the other end of its route, and took in the fishing port.

foreigers graveyard hakodate russian cemetary hakodate

Motomachi is the historical district. The various churches and consulates in the area, dating to the early days of foreign trade with Japan, are also frequented by tourists. The Foreign Cemetery and the Russian Cemetery show the reluctance of Japanese to be buried in the same area as foreigners.

temple gate hakodate old town hall hakodate

Higashi Honganji Temple is one attraction, and another is the Old Public Hall , a European-style building which housed Hakodate's government in the early 1900's.

russian church hakodate old japanese house, hakodate

There is a Russian Orthodox Church as a reminder of past Russian influence And there is a nod to old British influence with the old British Consulate as well. Around the harbour old wooden buildings still exist.

Japanese dancers bidding farewell to cruise ship

And as the cruise ship pulled out of port, there were dancers to see her off again, as we headed towards Otaru on Japan's other main island, Hokkaido

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