At the foothills of Hakodate-yama overlooking the harbor, Motomachi is a great strolling area with scenic slopes, Western-style buildings, churches and temples. Top three good harbor-view slopes are Hachiman-zaka, Motoi-zaka and Chacha-nobori.
01 HISTORIC BUILDING
Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward
旧函館区公会堂 / Kyu-Hakodate-ku Kokaido / 11-13 Motomachi / Currently Closed / www.zaidan-hakodate.com/koukaido
Constructed in 1910 by a Japanese architect, the striking blue-and-yellow coronial-style Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward is behind atop of Motomachi Park. The interior features elegant guest rooms and a concert hall, there is a breathtaking view of the harbor from the balcony. The hall will be closed for restration until April 2021.
02 PARK & HISTORIC BUILDINGS
元町公園 / 12-18 Motomachi / 24hrs / FREE
On the high point of Motoi-zaka is this lovely park that has been box-shaped fort (called Hako-date) from 1454 to the late-Edo Period. In the Meiji period, Hokkaido Government built the red brick Old Colonial Commission Archive (1880) and the Western-style Old Hakodate Branch Office Building (1909) on the ground. It is the perfect place for picnic in Motomachi overlooking the harbor.
03 HISTORIC BUILDING
Old British Consulate
旧イギリス領事館 / Kyu-Igirisu-Ryojikan / 33-14 Motomachi / 9am-7pm Apr-Oct, to 5pm Nov-Mar / Closed New Year’s holiday / Admission ¥300 / Wi-Fi / hakodate-kankou.com/british
The British Consulate in Hakodate was first established in 1859, this building features European-style appearance with Japanese roof tiles reconstructed in 1913. The consulate was closed in 1934 and it now houses history exhibits of the port and consulate. There is a pleasant tea room, with afternoon tea sets.
Hakodate Orthodox Church
函館ハリストス正教会 / Harisutosu Seikyokai / 3-13 Motomachi / 10am-5pm weekday, to 4pm Sat, 1-4pm Sun / Closed 25 Dec-mid Mar / ¥200 / orthodox-hakodate.jp/open
The Russian Orthodox Church, founded in 1859 and reconstructed in 1916, is one of the loveliest buildings in town. The church and its surroundings are lit up in the evening.
Hakodate Episcopal Church
函館聖ヨハネ教会 / Hakodate Sei-Yohane Kyokai / Daisan-zaka, 3-23 Motomachi / 10am-4pm / FREE
Next to the Orthodox Church, the Episcopal Church was founded in 1874 by a British priest and rebuilt in 1979. You can see its cross-shaped roof from Hakodate-yama.
Motomachi Roman Catholic Church
カトリック元町教会 / Katorikku Motomachi Kyokai / Daisan-zaka, 15-30 Motomachi / 10am-4pm except Sun morning / FREE / motomachi.holy.jp
Walk down Daisan-zaka from the Orthodox Church, you will find the elegant Roman Catholic Church (built in 1923) with a beautiful spire on the left. The Neo-gothic interior features neat blue ceiling with golden stars.
Higashi Hongan-ji Hakodate Betsuin
東本願寺函館別院 / 16-15 Motomachi / 7am-5pm / FREE
Japan’s oldest reinforced concrete temple was rebuilt in 1915 after the 1907 great fire. The temple features its magnificent roof tiles.
08 HISTORIC BUILDING
Chinese Memorial Hall
函館中華会館 / Chuka Kaikan / 1-12 Omachi / Currently Closed
About 200m from the Old British Consulate, the Chinese Memorial Hall is Japan’s only dynasty-era building constructed in 1910. The Qing-style red brick hall is now not open to the public.
09 HISTORIC BUILDING
Old Russian Consulate
旧ロシア領事館 / Saiwai-zaja, 17-3 Funami-cho / Currently Closed
This red brick old consulate is Japan’s only tsarist-era Russian architecture built in 1908 (closed in 1944). It is not open to the public.
称名寺 / 18-14 Funami-cho / 9am-4pm / FREE
Right next to Jitsugyo-ji, Britain and France set up consulates at this temple in the late-Edo period. In 1929, Shomyo-ji was rebuilt with reinforced concrete. From the left side of the temple building, Kannon Trail (1250m) leads to the top of Hakodate-yama.
高龍寺 / 21-11 Funami-cho / 6am-4.30pm (temple building 9am-4pm) / FREE
Hakodate’s oldest temple was founded in 1633 and relocated here in 1879 after the Boshin civil war. Hokkaido’s largest San-mon (temple gate), built in 1911, is carved with dragons and lions. The temple buildings were constructed from 1899 to 1933, surrounded by British- and French-style red brick walls. Don’t miss the Kaizan-do hall that has 500 wooden statues of rakan (五百羅漢: Buddha’s disciples: photography is allowed).
外国人墓地 / Gaikoku-jin Bochi / 23 Funami-cho / 24hrs
About 200m ahead from Koryu-ji, you will find American, British, Chinese, French and Russian tombstones on the hillside cemetery overlooking the beautiful harbor. The Foreigners’ Cemetery (gaikoku-jin bochi in Japanese) was officially established in 1870.
Hakodate Motomachi Map