Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hakodate city view from Mount Hakodate

As I wrote in the previous post, on 19th July hubby and I travelled from Aomori city to Hakodate city in Hokkaido prefecture by using Hakucho train that travelled through undersea Seikan tunnel which connects the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. We reached Hakodate railway station at about 5.30 pm. At the railway station, we kept our baggage in a locker located inside the station itself and then went for sightseeing at Mt. Hakodate.
Hakodate railway station

Hubby waiting for bus in front of Hakodate railway station

Hakodate is a city and port located in Oshima sub-prefecture of Hokkaido and is the capital city of the sub-prefecture. Hakodate city is situated in Kameda peninsula and is nestled at the southern tip of Hokkaido where the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan merge. Hakodate city has been a port open to the world since 1859. It is one of the most picturesque, friendly, historical, charming, and rustic seaside city. It is a scenic tourist destination. Hakodate is most famous for the spectacular night view it offers of the city and Tsugaru Strait from Mount Hakodate.

Mount Hakodate (Hakodateyama) is a 334 meters high, lumpy wooded mountain that lies at the southern end of the peninsula on which much of central Hakodate is located. On clear days and nights, the mountain summit offers an unobstructed spectacular view of both the city and the Tsugaru Strait. From the mountain summit, visitors can get a sweeping view of the Hakodate bay to the left, the Pacific Ocean to the right, and the fan-shaped streets of Hakodate spreading out below. Visitors can gaze back at the city and take in one of the most amazing views of the world. The night view (yakei in Japanese) from the summit is renowned in Japan as one of the best in the country, and one of the top three in the world along with Hong Kong and Naples. The panorama of lights is truly beautiful. Mount Hakodate is nationally well known as a romantic nightlife date spot. From the mountain summit observation platform, visitors can observe the beautiful ‘million-dollar’ nightscape.

The summit of Mount Hakodate can be reached by hiking trail, bus, car, or Hakodateyama ropeway. The best way to get a panoramic view of the city and its surrounding is by taking the ropeway to the mountain top. We took a direct bus from Hakodate railway station at about 6.40 pm and reached the lower station of Hakodateyama ropeway in about ten minutes. The lower station is known as Sanroku station and is located in Motomachi district. The cost for a ropeway ticket was 1160 yen for a round trip per person. The ropeway travelled from the foot of Mount Hakodate to the peak (Sancho station) in approximately three minutes. The gondola had a capacity to hold 125 passengers and departed every 10 minutes. It was a smooth, comfortable, and exciting ropeway ride above the ocean to the mountain top. Hubby compiled a video of our ropeway ride during our ascent to the mountain summit. The ropeway connected to an all-weather rooftop observatory at the top of the mountain. Facilities at the summit terminal included rooftop observation platforms (free of charge), souvenir shops, a cafe named Tea Lounge Legato at the third floor and a cafeteria style restaurant named Genova at the second floor with incredible finest views, and an events hall where 12 monitors produced a multi-vision presentation that introduced the four seasons of Hakodate.
Sanroku base station of Hakodateyama ropeway

Ropeway gondolas traveling to/from Mount Hakodate

View from ropeway during ascent to the mountain summit

Video of our ropeway ride during our ascent to the mountain summit

On reaching the mountain summit, hubby and I went to the rooftop observatory platform outside the summit building. It was still day time. The view of Hakodate city and Tsugaru Strait was exotic. The sea looked calm and it was a soothing sight. We wanted to view the changing sights of Hakodate city during the sunset. That day the sunset was at about 7.15 pm. Since it was only 7 pm, we strolled outside the observatory building facility and enjoyed the views from various positions and angles of mountain top. However, the temperature at the top of the mountain, even in summer, was cold (about 6 degrees Celsius) and strong winds caused a drop in the sensory temperature even further. Since hubby and I were dressed for the summer season, we felt very cold and so we returned inside the observatory building after about 10 minutes. After that we went to the souvenir shop inside the building. There were many varieties of original and fascinating items in the shop and we bought a few memorial goods.
Day view of Hakodate city from Mount Hakodate

Hakodate bay to the left

Another photo of Hakodate bay to the left

Tsugaru Strait to the right

Me standing at the observation platform at the mountain summit

Hubby standing at the observation platform at the mountain summit

Visitors enjoying Hakodate city view from Mount Hakodate

Beautiful view from observation platform

Me at Mount Hakodate summit

Hubby wearing a Kashmiri wrap-around shawl and standing at the souvenir shop

A beautiful night view of the lights of Hakodate city appears about 30 minutes after the sunset. So at 7.25 pm, we again went outside to the rooftop observatory platform and had a nice time enjoying the view after sunset. The lights of Hakodate city lit up slowly. The streets, houses, buildings, everything lit up, and created a dramatic view of the overflowing lights. The panorama of lights of Hakodate city is indeed one of the best night views in the world. However, it was very cold and my fingers were almost frozen! Hubby was literally shivering and had some difficulty in taking photos as his hands were too shaky due to the cold weather. But he could manage to take a few beautiful photos of the amazing night view of Hakodate city. In addition, hubby and I had a professional photographer take a photo of us at the mountain summit in front of the dazzling night view of the city. The photo came out really nice but it could be clearly seen that we were shivering in the cold windy conditions in our summer clothes.
Street lights slowly lighting up during dusk

Night view of Hakodate city from Mount Hakodate

Night view of Hakodate bay to the left

Hubby and I at the mountain summit in front of night view of the city

The second time we were outside in the roof top observatory platform for almost 45 minutes, and hubby and I felt very cold! So we went to the mountain observatory third floor Tea Lounge Legato for having cups of hot tea and coffee. We again got a superb night view of Hakodate city from the Lounge.
Night view of the city from Tea Lounge Legato

Me at Tea Lounge Legato

Hubby and I enjoyed the exotic day view as well as the dramatic night view of Hakodate city from top of Mount Hakodate for about two hours. At about 9 pm, we returned back to the base of the mountain by ropeway. While descending, we again got a beautiful panoramic view of the city lights. Then we hired a taxi and returned to Hakodate railway station. After collecting our baggage from the locker at the station, we bought ‘bento’ dinner (packed meal in a box) at a convenience store as we were very tired to go to a restaurant. Later we hired another taxi and went to a hotel named ‘Hotel Grantia Hakodate Goryokaku’ in Goryokaku town, which was about 4.5 kilometers away from Hakodate railway station. After check-in at the hotel, we had our bento dinner and retired for the day. It had been a long day for us. Next day we went to see Goryokaku fort about which I will write in the next post.
Our room at Hotel Grantia Hakodate Goryokaku


Sam Spade said...

Thank you for the very detailed account of your visit to Hakodate-Yama. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for such a nice comment Sam Spade.