Hakodate: Cape Tachimachi

We bought a one-day streetcar pass in Hakodate for Y600, and the natural effect of doing so was making us squeeze as many sights as possible into a single day. Packed, yes, but I wasn’t tired out, for I had gotten plenty of sleep during the slow-paced portions of the trip.

One unintended benefit of the pass is that it led us to discover an area in Hakodate called Cape Tachimachi that we otherwise wouldn’t have visited.

It was really pure luck – we looked at a street map of Hakodate, and saw the usual tourist spots like western churches, the morning market and the famous Mt Hakodate night view. One place on the map, however, looked terribly enticing to me: Cape Tachimachi. The name brought to mind thrilling images of violent waves, rocky cliffs and thunderstorms, so off we went in search of that cape.

The cape itself is actually a 15-minute walk from Yachigashira tram station, the northern terminus of one of Hakodate’s two streetcar lines, but boy, what a scenic walk it is.

First we walked through a residential district. I don’t know about you, but I really love wandering through residential districts in Japan, seeing how the people live, and looking at those lovely homes with well-tended bonsai trees.

P1330117
IMG_9575
IMG_9573

And can you believe it… in this residential district we found the cheapest “soft-cream” (i.e. soft serve ice-cream cone) in the whole of Japan.

P1330097

At just Y100 (S$1.50)! Not terribly cheap by Singaporean standards, but in Japan, these usually go for Y250 to Y300 a cone. So you can imagine my delight at discovering such a stall.

P1330101

Ice-cream in hand, my mood was almost as bright and airy as the weather – a clear, blue sky had taken over the overcast clouds that were raining snow for much of the morning. Just half an hour ago we didn’t know that kind of fair weather was even possible in Hakodate, casting it off as another Kanazawa-type town that just had the misfortune of bad weather.

Look at that impossibly blue sky! I also like Hakodate’s distinctive yellow fire hydrants.

P1330088

Suddenly, after we turned a corner, there it was: glimpses of the big, blue sea between houses.

P1330121
P1330122

By then, we were walking through a graveyard. But I’ve never seen a more picturesque graveyard in my life before, with fresh powdery snow on the ground, blue skies overhead, mountains to the back, and facing the sea right in front.

P1330127
P1330137
P1330152
P1330158

As you can see in the above pictures, the sky had suddenly become dark and cloudy again – the fine weather had lasted for just half an hour.

We quickly made our way past the graveyards (apparently there are tombstones of some famous Japanese people here as well, but we didn’t really go and take a look) and arrived at Cape Tachimachi proper just before the storm came in. Somehow the overcast weather seemed to add to the mysterious beauty of the cape.

IMG_9595
P1330162
IMG_9608
IMG_9588
P1330183

Dark clouds loomed overhead, and soon it started snowing again. We huddled in our jackets and hoped the storm would soon past. And sure enough, just like a tropical storm, the clouds soon drifted away, revealing clear skies in all directions, and a gorgeous view.

Snow-capped mountains in Hokkaido, blue seas and the low-rises of Hakodate city.

P1330224
IMG_9611
IMG_9597
P1330229

Even had more time to enjoy the scenery as we walked back to the tram stop.

IMG_9620
IMG_9619

That mountain is Mount Hakodate, and you can see a stunning view of Hakodate from the summit. That thick cable is the ropeway leading up to the top of the mountain.

Interesting scenes in the residential district nearby:

Road leading up to a temple totally cleared of snow:

IMG_9627

Retro-looking shops on the way back to the tram station:

IMG_9631
IMG_9633

If you have time in Hakodate, visit Cape Tachimachi. Off the major tourist trail, but worth a visit nonetheless for fine views of the sea and cliffs, an interesting residential district, and picturesque Japanese graveyard.