Hakodate is a major port city in Japan's Oshima Prefecture (south-eastern Hokkaido Island). The port straddles a sandbar linking it to mainland. Designated in 1854, it was one of Japan's first treaty ports (allowing foreign trade). By population (around 280,000), the city is Hokkaido's 3rd largest - following Sapporo (1,9 million) and Asahikawa (350,000).
Port's cruising season runs from April through October.
The city boasts fine examples of turn-of-the-century colonial architecture, including Japan's first Western-style fort Goryokaku, constructed in the shape of a 5-pointed star. Today the fort is redesigned and used as a public park. It is among Hokkaido Island's most popular locations for cherry blossom viewing (called hanami). Since 2006, the park has the Goryokaku Tower, which resembles an air traffic control tower. It is accessible by the park's visitors and offers panoramic views of the park.
Another popular tourist sites include the Old Public Hall, the Russian Orthodox Church Haristos, and the Mount Hakodate Ropeway (cable car). Nearby is Mount Komagatake and Onuma Quasi-National Park. Haristos Orthodox Church's bell is one of Japan's 100 soundscapes. In August each year, the city hosts the popular Hakodate Port Festival. Its citizens gather in the streets to show the famous Squid Dance (Ika-odori).
Hakodate's cable car is Japan's most heavily used line - around 1,6 million riders annually. E;evation is 56 m (184 ft) and its length is 787 m (2582 ft). Cabins run once every 10 min. Travel time is 3 min. Fares are around USD 6 (one-way ticket) and USD 10 (round-trip ticket). The night view from Mt Hakodate (elevation 334 m / 1096 ft) is considered one of the country's best, and also one of the world's top 3 - ranked together with Hong Kong China and Naples Italy.
Hokkaido is the northernmost and 2nd-largest island of the Japanese archipelago. It is located between Pacific Ocean (to the east) and Sea of Japan (to the west). The island has width of approx 280 ml (450 km), length approx 260 ml (420 km) and is heavily forested. The climate is marked by cool summers and severe winters. The island's principal industries are fishing and forestry.
In 2017, the city was visited by around 1,5 million tourists. In 2018, the cruise port handled 31 ship calls. In 2018 were completed city transport infrastructure upgrades - including new train line and new airport terminal (serving budget airlines).
Hakodate cruise terminal
Most cruise ships in Hakodate dock at Nishi Wharf - downtown-located passenger terminal. Largest liners are berthed at Minatocho Wharf, which additionally has a large parking for tour busses (max capacity 100 units). Traditionally for Japan, international cruise passengers are greeted by local residents with singing and dancing performances at the terminal - during both arrivals and departures.