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In addition to the sights listed, you might wish to soak away the aches of travel in one of Hakodate's hot-spring spas. Yunokawa Spa is Hokkaido's oldest, but it's 25 minutes away by streetcar (ask the tourist office for a map and list of baths). More accessible is Yachigashira Public Hot-Springs Bath, located at the foot of Mount Hakodate (tel. 0138/22-8371; daily 6am-9:30pm; closed second and fourth Tues of every month; streetcar: Yachigashira). It's famous for its rust-colored waters, but what strikes me most is its size, capable of accommodating -- I shudder at the thought -- more than 500 bathers.

Historic Hakodate -- You can take the streetcar to the Jujigai or Suehiro-cho stops to explore Hakodate's historic districts, but more fun is to walk 12 minutes from the station (past the morning market and continuing along the seaside promenade) to the renovated waterfront warehouse district with its shops and restaurants and the nearby Meijikan (tel. 0138/27-7070), a former 1911 brick post office now housing glassware boutiques. A few minutes' walk inland is historic Motomachi, a picturesque neighborhood of steep slopes and turn-of-the-20th-century Western-style clapboard homes, consulates, churches, and other buildings; most impressive is the Old Branch Office of the Hokkaido Government in Motomachi Park, which contains a Tourist Information Center (tel. 0138/27-3333; daily 9am-7pm, to 5pm in winter).

Mount Hakodate After Dark -- Hakodate is probably most famous for its night view from atop Mount Hakodate, which rises 330m (1,100 ft.) about 3km (1 3/4 miles) southwest of Hakodate Station, so you should time your visit just at sunset (though note that it can be chilly up there, even in Aug). Few vacationing Japanese spend the night in Hakodate without taking the cable car to the top of this lava cone, which was formed by the eruption of an undersea volcano. From the peak, the lights of Hakodate shimmer and glitter like jewels on black velvet. I wouldn't miss it, not only for the view, but for the camaraderie shared by everyone making the pilgrimage. There's an informal restaurant here (where you can indulge in a drink or a snack while admiring the spectacular view) as well as the usual souvenir shops.

You can reach the foot of Mount Hakodate via a 5-minute streetcar ride from Hakodate Station to the Jujigai stop. From there, walk about 6 minutes to the ropeway that will take you to the top. The round-trip costs ¥1,160 for adults and ¥590 for children. Ropeway hours are daily 10am to 10pm early May through October (from 9am during Golden Week and July 25-Aug 20), and 10am to 9pm November through April. From April 20 to November you can also reach the top of Mount Hakodate directly by bus from Hakodate Station; the 30-minute trip costs ¥360 for adults and half-price for children.

The Morning Market -- The other must-do is a visit to Hakodate's morning market, which is spread out just south of the train station daily from about 5am to noon. Walk around and look at the variety of foods for sale from about 300 vendors, especially the hairy crabs for which Hokkaido is famous. You can make an unusual breakfast of fruit, raw sea urchin, or grilled crab from the stalls here.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.