Hakodate: The Storied History of a Port Town *RERUN
Travelers to Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido often first arrive in Hakodate, a port town that attracts 4 million visitors a year. The city is best known for its Million-Dollar Night View. The bright lights look beautiful surrounded by the jet black ocean. The view, very popular with couples, is a symbol of the city. Hakodate prospered as the first port in Japan fully open to the outside world and we explore the city's romance together with the people who call it home.

Crossing the Tsugaru Strait

Visitors to Hakodate, the gateway to Hokkaido, usually arrive after crossing the Tsugaru Strait separating Hokkaido, Japan's second-largest island, from Japan's largest island of Honshu. Passengers used to travel between the northernmost point of Honshu and Hakodate on ferries which carried a total of 160 million passengers over 80 years of operation. The ferries were retired from service following the completion of an undersea tunnel that cuts journey time in half.

Hakodate, a Port City

150 years ago, Hakodate was the first port in Japan fully opened to the outside world. Over the coming years, many overseas vessels reached the Hakodate docks. From a small fishing village, Hakodate grew into a major city with Western architecture and horse-drawn carriages in the streets. Even today, the city still has more churches than any other Japanese town, including the Russian Orthodox Church known by the nickname "ding-dong temple," in reference to the sound of its 7 bells.

Squid, a Traditional Summer Delicacy

Travelers can enjoy a wide range of delicious seafood including Hakodate's famous squid, which is caught in nearby fishing grounds and brought to market while still alive. Delivering the fresh squid to local residents is a race against time. Gourmands only eat the fresh squid first thing in the morning, when it is a true taste of the Hokkaido summer.