Onuma Quasi National Park

So, you`ve done Hakodate. Seen the morning market, checked out the night view, etc etc. Now you`re ready for some time out in nature. Right?

Luckily, there`s a park not too far from Hakodate called Onuma Quasi National Park that can scratch that itch.

The train used to reach it is actually one and the same with the train bound for Sapporo, so if you want to make it a stopover on your way to or from Hakodate that is definitely an option. In my case, I took the train to and from JR Hakodate station. You can take the Super Hokuto Ltd. Express for 1,160 yen one way or you can go for the cheaper local train for 540. You can also go nuts and get a reserved seat on that Ltd. Express train for an additional few hundred yen, but really, why waste your money unless you are super worried about getting a seat? Besides, if you choose to ride the Express train you`ll be there in like thirty minutes anyway.
Once there, exit the station and turn immediately to your right. You will see some toilets and, beyond that, the Tourist Center. They have English speakers who can help you with whatever you may need, like… a map.

Very handy when you`re wandering around in nature.

The main attraction is in the very center of the map: two walking paths (15 and 50 minute leisurely walks respectively) that show off the main highlights of the park. These are pretty easy but if you have.difficulty with climbing anything steep, you may have trouble with the bridges.

Bridge in Onuma Park

In addition to the walking paths, there are also bike rentals available. While you can`t ride them on the same path the walkers use, you can use them to loop around lake Onuma. It`s mostly by the road rather than on a separate path, but it still makes for a pleasant ride. If biking is not your thing, there are boats you can rent instead, or a tour boat you can ride.
There are other local things you can do- camping, horseback riding lessons, and what have you- but many of these things require reservations (or a car). Take a look a few days ahead of your trip, if you can, to see what appeals to you.

For me, just having a quiet park to walk in was plenty. The views were lovely and going on a weekday ensures there won`t be too many people.

One thing to look out for is the Suzumebachi- the wasps, or “killer bees” that everyone likes to bring up when discussing scary bugs in Japan. There are signs (in Japanese only for some reason) in a couple places in the park. I don’t think it’s a major concern as I didn’t run into any- if you stay on the main paths, you should be fine. Just be cautious if you opt to wander off said paths!

It reads, “Be careful of Suzumebachi!”

I spent about half a day in Onuma Park, so if you want to take it easy I would recommend you budget about the same amount of time.
Have you been to any parks in Japan that you enjoyed?

Hakodate in one day?

Can you see the third largest city in Hokkaido and all it has to offer in just one day?

Short answer: yeah, probably.

Long answer: yeah, probably, but you’ll be tired and grumpy by the end of it.

During my stay in Hakodate, I had two main in-city goals: hit up Goryokaku Park, and check out the night view on Mount Hakodate. Everything after would be icing on the proverbial cake.

I got up bright and early…. at eight. Hey don’t judge me, it’s my vacation and eight is early for me! Anyway, after having breakfast at my hotel, I headed down to JR Hakodate Station in order to find the Morning Market ( 朝市). It was reasonably close to the station, and I soon found myself surrounded by local seafood and produce.

The most notable of which was the crabs. They were everywhere, in all sizes, starting from about 4,000 yen per entire critter. The corn was more reasonable at about 100 yen per ear, with claims of having been brought in from the fields just that morning.
After that, I hopped on one of the trams. Streetcars basically run two routes throughout Hakodate and while I potentially could have walked, I opted to take it easy and use public transportation to get to Goryokaku Koen (roughly a ten minute ride from Hakodate Station).

Goryokaku is free to enter and a very pleasant, albeit sunny, walk. If you want to get a proper view of the former citadel, however, the nearby tower is there to help! It does cost to go up, but the view is lovely. Also, more importantly, there are restaurants and sweet shops inside- a great option for those hoping to get lunch in (like me).

When that was done, it was back off to Hakodate Station – because haha planning? What’s that?

I decided to check out the Bay Area for goodies, snacks, and overall ambience, and was not disappointed. The brick buildings, the calm water, the bustling souvenir shops, it’s all there.

If you head uphill from there (literally) you’ll find the foreign district, where you can see some really beautiful churches and take in the quiet neighborhood.

That was what I was expecting, anyway, until I heard cheering and music. Curious, I investigated and…

Surprise! It turned out I chose the right week to come to town. There was a week long festival happening with music and performers from around the world. As while a week pass was 3,000 yen, it was only 1,000 yen for one day!

The derailment from plans was very enjoyable, albeit mildly irksome in the sense that I’d been thinking of having local food for dinner and the main food stands at said festival had Indian and Korean dishes. Delicious at least!

But finally, finally, in the evening I got my chance and went up to see the night view from Mount Hakodate. And it was…!

…well, it was great once the fog cleared, but as you can see in the photo I was already in line to head back down the mountain.

By the time I was done with my day it was ten PM and my feet were ready for a break!
Are there other things to do in Hakodate? Of course! There are restaurants, shops, museums.. and that’s not even getting into what’s just outside of Hakodate. Onuma Koen comes to mind… but that’s a post for another day.

So yes, if you want to see Hakodate but can only spare a day, you can likely see everything then. Just be prepared for lines and getting distracted by sudden music festivals.

Keep an eye out- I’ll be posting more on Hokkaido soon!