Monday, October 15, 2007

A Day In Hakodate

SEPTEMBER 17, 2007
Hakodate is Hokkaido's third largest city, located at the island's southern tip. For our time here, we managed to pull get Chang Yuan to guide us around this city. Although he have stayed there just half a year, we were pretty sure that he knows the city better than us. The day started rather late than we would have hoped for.
The first place we went was Fort Goryokaku.
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This star shaped fort was constructed in Hakodate from 1857 to 1864 as Japan's first Western style fortress. Its ruins are now the Goryokaku Park, which in May becomes one of Hokkaido's most popular spots for cherry blossom viewing.
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In 1868, when the Meiji Restoration led to the overthrow of the Edo Shogunate, loyalist rebels fled to Hokkaido instead of surrendering and used Hakodate's Goryokaku as their headquarters in the resulting civil war against the Imperial forces. The loyalists surrendered in 1869.
Goryokaku Tower stands majestically just a stone's throw away from the fort.
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In April 2006, a new, 107 meter tall tower was opened, replacing the 60 meter tall, former tower, dating from 1964.
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From the the observation deck of the Goryokaku Tower, a bird's view of the huge fortress, as well as the city is visible.
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I didn't get a nice photo at the observation deck during my visit to Sapporo TV Tower and of course, I didn't want to repeat the same thing here.
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I found out that Fort Goryokaku is not the only fort with a defensive purpose build with a pentagon shape. In fact, there are a few other fort with a pentagon shape in other parts of the world.

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As one of the first Japanese harbor cities to be opened to international trade after the country's era of isolation, Hakodate has experienced notable influence from overseas, and the foreign population's former residential district and a Western style fort are among its main tourist attractions.
The harbor of Hakodate was one of the first to be opened to foreign trade in 1854 after Japan's era of isolation had come to an end. As a result, many traders from Russia, China and Western countries moved to Hakodate.
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Motomachi at the foot of Mount Hakodate, became a district favored among the new foreign residents. Many foreign looking buildings remain in the area today.

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Chinese Memorial Hall

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Old Public Hall Hakodate Ward (upper building)

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Hakodate City Museum of Photographic History

There is a strech of street, with several churches along the way.

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Motomachi Roman Catholic Church

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Hakodate United Church of Christ in Japan

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Hakodate Russian Orthodox Church

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Hakodate Episcopal Church
This is the Old British Consulate.

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It began to drizzle when we were there. So we took shelter at one of the small hut in the compound. It was the only time where the three of us actually took photo together.

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A Sarawakian in between two Perakians.

Of course, in between all these buildings influenced by foreign architecture, there are still some shrine here. One of it is 高龍寺 (Kouryuji Temple).
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The next one is 東本願寺函館別院 (Hakodate Higashihonganji Temple).

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As for this one, I have no idea what it is called.
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Hakodate is also famous for its slopes. Within the small area in Motomachi, there are at least ten slopes, each with its own name. This is called 八幡坂 (Hachimanzaka), one of the famous one.

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WET!
It was still drizzling but we continued walking around the area. As you can see from the photo above, my whole hair and body had gotten wet. Even the road was slippery. The next one is called 二十間坂 (Nijukkenzaka). It is said to be as wide as more than 20 metres. That is something out of the ordinary, no?

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It wasn't long before it was dinner time. Chang Yuan pointed out one place that we should dine at least once while in Hakodate.

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Apparently Lucky Pierrot is a burger chain that can be found only in Hakodate and not other parts in Japan, not even other towns in Hokkaido. They say you don't come to Hakodate if you don't get to taste the burger here.
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Each and every branch of this burger chain has its own identity. As for the one we went, the theme was Christmas as the restaurant is surrounded with lots of Christmas decorative stuff.
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I had a meal called Lucky Rokomoko. It was nothing special - rice with a few pieces of sweet and sour chicken and two eggs to balanced up things.
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The main meal was a giant burger with a rather cheeky name - Futoccho. I didn't finish it all by myself of course. We shared it among the three of us.

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Hakodate is best known for the spectacular views to be enjoyed from Mount Hakodate. Mount Hakodate is a 334 meter high, wooded mountain at the southern end of the peninsula on which much of central Hakodate is located. Facilities at the summit include observation platforms (free of charge), souvenir shops, a cafe and a cafeteria style restaurant.
To get to the top of the mountain, there are two possible ways - either by a cable car or bus.
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We picked the latter as we had already bought the one-day bus pass earlier on.

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Some building while waiting for the bus

On clear days and nights, the view of Hakodate from the mountain is spectacular. That was the highlight of our day in Hakodate. But when we got up, it was raining. If that is not bad enough, the winding was blowing strongly as well to make it tough staying for long time at the observation deck.
However, it was worthwhile.
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The view from there is just SPECTACULAR.
By the way, accommodation should not be a worry when you are at Hakodate, because you can always get a great selection of places to stay with discount prices by visiting Hokkaido Hotels for more information.

2 comments:

昌元 said...

finally, hakodate! haha, when i looked through the photos you have taken, really, i must say, hakodate is indeed beautiful! though i am far from you all, it is greart to be here. may be the problem is, the autumn is short, and very cold...

calvin said...

@ 昌元:
omataseshimashita.

i knew i made you waited for so long before i finally blog an entry on hakodate. i must say hakodate is really a nice place to pay a visit. thanks again for taking us around and also took us to have that giant burger in lucky pierrot.

and by the way, enjoy your autumn there =)