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.