Hakodate celebrates the 150th anniversary of the port opening to foreign countries in 2009. Hakodate Port prospered as one of the five trade ports that first opened to foreign countries in 1859. Hakodate is the third most populous city in Hokkaido after Sapporo and Asahikawa. The city itself spreads out in fan-like form when viewed from Mount Hakodate, a hill that juts out into the Tsugaru Straits. It is not a large city but has its full share of history, culture, onsen hot springs, nature, night views and culinary delights. All of these combine to make Hakodate a rather special Japanese port town, capable of stimulating all five senses of those who visit.
Food of Hakodate is drawing a lot attention. Sushi and dishes using fresh ingredients such as squid and seafood are popular, and so are Hakodate salt ramen noodles, a typical ramen of Hokkaido. “Lucky Pierrot” hamburger shops are favored by local people for fresh, hot and hearty burgers and you can choose from a variety of types. Folksy foods are available at Daimon Yokocho near Hakodate Station. The World Cuisine Academic Meeting in Hakodate 2009 was held in Hakodate in April 2009. As Hakodate was opened as an international trade port in the 19th century, Western food culture took root earlier here than in other parts of Japan. Using abundant local ingredients, professional cooks in Hakodate experiment and try to make an innovative cuisine, regardless of national or other classifications. Also this April, the 11th “Bar-gai in the Western Part of Hakodate” festival was held. This year the western part of Hakodate, which is the old part of the town, was decked out to resemble a Spanish town full of bars.