Home >> Itineraries,Japan Travel >> Hokkaido Self-drive with kids (June 2014) Part 2: Lake Toya -> Yakumo Funkawan Panorama Park ->Hakodate (Lucky Pierrot, Goryokaku Tower, Kanemori red brick warehouse, Uni Murakami, Morning market)

After breakfast at our hotel at Lake Toya, we started our long drive to Hakodate. As if the long drive along the expressway wasn’t boring enough as it was, weather was pretty bad that day and we were perpetually shrouded with rain and fog throughout the drive.

We took a break at PA Yakumo which is next to Funkawan Panorama Park. There was an indoor playground for the kids there which was absolutely free!


There were also outdoor play areas but it was raining so we couldn’t go. We also didn’t get to enjoy much scenery since we were surrounded by fog.

After the kids had enough fun, we continued the drive to Hakodate. Our first stop was Lucky Pierrot, a famous burger chain at Hakodate. We visited the branch opposite Goryokaku Tower which had a few free parking lots.


I had my favourite hotate burger while the kids shared a chicken burger, together with some drinks and fries.

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After eating, we left our car at Lucky Pierrot and went for a quick visit of Goryokaku Tower.


I had been to Goryokaku Tower before and it was not a place that warranted a second visit, so while hubby and his friend and MF went up the tower, I went for a walk around the fort with MY.


The fort is most beautiful during sakura season (which we missed), but by June, all that was left were withered sakura.


There were some other flowers blooming in the park, so it was not all that bare.


Hubby and his friend didn’t spend much time at the tower, and when I went back to meet them, they were busy eating Milkissimo ice-cream downstairs.


We drove on to Hakodate city centre and parked our car at our hotel, Hakodate Kokusai Hotel. We chose this hotel because it was located between the morning market and red brick warehouse district, making it easy to walk to both locations.  Parking in the city can be quite expensive, so by parking in the hotel and walking, we could save a bit of money.

We visited the Red Brick warehouse district first.


I’m not big on shopping and made a beeline for Snaffles cafe. Snaffles originated in Hakodate, although it also has cafes in Sapporo and its signature cheesecake can be bought at many souvenir shops in Sapporo, Chitose Airport and even in Singapore. However, having tea at Snaffles cafe is still one of my must-do things in Hakodate. At their cafe, you can order their signature cheesecake individually instead of buying the whole box.


We bought some other cakes and a drink to go along with the cheesecake.  Their strawberry shortcake was pretty yummy.


After tea, I brought the kids to Brick Labo located near to the information counter (same building as Snaffles) and for some Lego / Duplo fun – free of charge!


Hubby and his friend went around shopping in the meantime. Hubby came back with lots of cuttlefish snacks (Hakodate is known for its abundance of squid and their dried cuttlefish snacks are pretty fresh and yummy.)


Our next destination was supposed to be Mount Hakodate for its ‘million dollar night view’, but it was super cloudy that day and the mountain was totally surrounded by thick clouds.


We figured we weren’t going to get much of a view, so didn’t waste our money going up.  It was a real disappointment as this was one of the highlights of our trip and I was looking forward to going up again although I had been there before because I remembered it was really beautiful.  Oh well, I shall just insert a photo of the ‘million dollar night view’ that I took during my previous visit.


We decided to go for early dinner at Uni Murakami, a restaurant recommend in our guide book.


We thought we were early, but was told we had to wait an hour! They do accept reservations and told us we could make a reservation for later that evening and come back later. Since the kids were sleeping and my friend’s mum couldn’t walk much, we just sat in the shop and waited for a table. When MY woke up, he entertained himself by looking at the live seafood in the shop.


The food was NOT worth the wait. It was way over priced and didn’t pass the taste test either. I’ve had lots of seafood throughout Hokkaido and can safely say the seafood here is no way up to Hokkaido standards and the price is above average. There are other food in Hakodate to try out, like yakitori at Hasegawasuto, curry at Gotoken, or another burger at Lucky Pierrot.. Uni Murakami was a huge disappointment.


The next morning, I went for a walk around Hakodate before the kids woke up. Hakodate city centre is a place with more tourists than locals. In the afternoon and evening, the place is so overrun by tourists that you forget you are in Japan and the town sort of loses its character. If you want to encounter the locals, take a stroll early in the morning (like 5 am early) and you will a much more tranquil Hakodate with the locals walking their dogs, fishing at the squid plaza and setting up the stalls at the morning market.


When walking around Hakodate, keep a lookout for the colouful manholes under your feet.


Later in the morning, we went for a walk around Hakodate Morning Market.  There are many famous markets in the various cities in Hokkaido, but imo, Hakodate Morning Market is one of the best.


We started with the infamous squid fishing that is not for the faint-hearted. There are many stores in the market offering squid fishing at different prices, so if you have time, you can walk around to find the best deal. We headed for the originator with the symbolic giant squid structure.


After we caught our first squid, MF insisted on trying so we paid for another squid and let MF fish for it. He successfully caught a squid!


After catching the squid, the owner cuts it up right in front of you and fresh squid sashimi is served! Watch the squid attempt to stand up even after its body has been severed.


Do not forget the most exciting part before you start eating: pour a bit of soya sauce on the tentacles and watch it move!

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I recommend you start eating the body first before you eat the tentacles and chewing the tentacles real well. If you pop the tentacles into your mouth straight away, it’s gonna stick to your throat!

If you find this experience too mild, I dare you to try the dancing squid bowl at one of the eateries in the building close to Hakodate station.  Just search ‘dancing squid bowl’ on youtube for video demonstration.


Next, we went in search for some famed Hokkaido crab. We went to the stall with lots of live crabs facing Hakodate station.


We told the guy we wanted our crab half sashimi and half BBQed and he went to find suitable crabs for us. He showed us two crabs, weighed it and displayed the price and we chose one. We chose a big one for a pretty reasonable price of 7000 yen.


I have never been a fan of Hokkaido crab as the ones I tried have always been tasteless and a chore to eat. However, the crab we had here was a pleasant surprise – at least the BBQ portion was.


The crab shell was cut open for us, making it easy to take the meat out. The meat came off easily and it was so sweet and juicy!  All the BBQ crabs I had before were dry with the meat stuck to the shell, this one was just the opposite.

The sashimi portion was disappointing though – it was cold and icy and absolutely tasteless. We should have just BBQed the whole thing.


After the crab feast, we continued exploring the market. We reached a building called Hakodate market square.


This is where you can try to snitch a good deal with lots of bargaining. Most store owners were willing to bargain and the dried scallops here (after bargaining) was the cheapest we found throughout the trip.  There were some fruit stalls inside and we bought a big apple for the kids (an apple a day keeps the doctor away).  The store owner cut it up for us on the spot.


We also found a store selling snacks at discounted price. We tried to bargain but the owner refused to barge because the price he offered was already discounted. We bought many packets of my favourite Hori corn chocolate for 320 yen (usual price was 360 yen) each and we didn’t come across any store that sold cheaper than this for the rest of the trip.


Next, we moved on to a small but very popular store. P1120366

A huge bowl of uni (sea urchin) here only costs 1000 yen!  It was too good to resist.


They also had other seafood such as abalone and botan ebi (gigantic prawns).


Just opposite this store was a store selling super sweet hokkaido melons. Summer is the best time to enjoy sweet hokkaido melons. Although the melon was very sweet, I was a bit miffed with how stingy they are with their spoons. They only lend one spoon for each slice you buy (regardless of whether you buy a big slice or small slice) and kept reminding us to return the spoon like we were planning to steal them. Sheesh.


There were many other stalls in the market selling melons and melon juice. I decided to buy melon juice from another stall after being miffed over the spoon issue.


We had eaten everything we wanted to eat at the market and went back to the hotel to get our car. We drove to the Motomachi district, visiting the old Hakodate Public Hall first.


Next to the public hall was a small alley housing several soft serve stalls and everyone walking out of the alley was holding a soft serve cone. We couldn’t resist buying some for ourselves.


We wanted to drive around the church district but the roads were closed to vehicle due to road works. It had started raining so nobody wanted to get off the car to walk. We had also planned to drive up to Mount Hakodate for the day view, but it was still totally cloudy so we skipped that.  (It is possible to drive up to Mount Hakodate in the daytime but the road is closed to private vehicles in the evening).



With nothing left on our itinerary for Hakodate, we drove on to our next destination. Bye Bye cloud and gloom.

Other posts for this trip:

Complete summarized itinerary
Part 1: New Chitose Airport -> Lake Toya

Part 2: Lake Toya -> Hakodate
Part 3: Hakodate -> Niseko
Part 4: Niseko -> Otaru
Part 5: Otaru
Part 6: Sapporo
Part 7: Furano
Part 8: Furano -> Biei -> Furano
Part 9: Tomamu -> Obihiro -> New Chitose Airport

This post is archived under my Japan Travel Blog:


the author

Supposed to be a stay-home mom, but hates staying home. Definition of parenting is bringing the boys out for 'experiential learning' in Singapore, Japan and wherever else in the world her husband can afford to pay for.


  1. jeannie says:

    Hi, do you know if there is any car rental in Lake Toya, near its JR station? Thank you.

  2. dex says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Have you travelled to Asahikawa before?
    I am planning a self-drive to that area prior hitting back to Lake Toya.
    Any recommendations would be most appreciated.

    Thank you.

    • bumblebeemum says:


      Yes I have been to Asahikawa. When would you be travelling and what is your purpose of visiting the area? Asahikawa itself has nothing much beside the zoo and ramen village. But it is a good base for exploring nearby regions. It really depends on the season you are travelling. In Summer, you can use it as a base to explore Biei and Furano. In Autumn, to visit Daisetsuzan National Park. In Winter, Asahiyama Zoo is worth a visit. In late spring, people do a day trip to Takinoue for shibazakura and Kamiyubetsu Tulip Park from there.

  3. Jane says:

    Hi Bumblebeemum,

    Thanks for your insightful blog on Hokkaido, your entries have really helped me in planning my upcoming trip to Hokkaido in the summer.

    I need your advice on Hakodate – do you think the city is worth visiting, given that it is a bit of a drive from most places? I will also be travelling with my grandmother who is in her 80’s, so am trying to reduce long commute whenever possible.

    Thanks in advance!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hakodate is indeed a very long drive. Whether or not you should visit depends on how much time you have. If you want to visit Hakodate but want to cut short the driving times, I usually recommend spending 1 night a Noboribetsu on the way there and 1 night at Lake Toya on the way back or vice versa to break up the drive.

  4. Gary says:

    About Uni Murakami – I supposed the other seafood weren’t that good? I thought the uni was excellent though my friend didn’t like it either (no fishy taste he said….) We wrote our own review and pictures as well so do check it out in your free time. Thanks for your recommendations!!

    • bumblebeemum says:

      You’re clever to make reservation!! We waited so long for a table… Maybe with longer wait came higher expectations and hence disappointment for us. Your uni looks lovely!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi there! We are planning to visit Lake Toya from Hakodate and it’s gonna be a long drive. My kids and grandparents will be coming along. So are there any shops or eateries we can stop by for toilet breaks? Thank you for your informative website! :)

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