We got back on the Hayabusa Shinkansen for the one hour ride from Aomori to Hakodate. From Shin Hakodate station we rode a local train into Hakodate. We stayed at the Smile Hotel just across the plaza from the train station. Hakodate was one of the very few cities opened to international trade in the Meiji era. In actuality, Japan was forced by other countries to open up select cities for trading purposes in 1854. This history is reflected in the buildings, religious beliefs and history of very prosperous trading merchants and their impact on Hakodate. Although there are many site to see, we enjoyed the morning market and strolling around the Motomachi district the most. The warehouse district is filled with touristy trinket shops and imported kitsch available anywhere. There might be some unique Japanese items however you’ll have to look hard to find them. The Hakodate-Yama Ropeway is interesting however the evening we went up it was really windy, cold and foggy. This was compounded by huge crowds of tourists arriving non-stop by bus all cramming onto the viewing areas. My advice is stay away. You’re better off watching the sunset from the Motomachi hills. While exploring this area a local recommended we watch the sunset from the Foreigner’s cemetery. Although this might seem odd, it is a great location, complete with a little, wooden viewing platform facing west across the channel.
The Hakodate Morning market is a great place to take pictures of people. The morning we were there a school group was learning how to shop for vegetables. The salespeople loved helping the kids and I enjoyed taking their pictures. Next stop is Sapporo!