MT. HAKODATE (函館山)
Mount Hakodate (Hakodateyama) is a 334 meter high, wooded mountain with a nine kilometer circumference at the southern end of the peninsula on which much of central Hakodate is located. Its location allows an unobstructed view of both the city and the Tsugaru Strait. The volcanic activity of the mountain ceased about two million years ago. "Gagyu-zan" is one of the many names of Mt. Hakodate; it means "Lying Cow Mountain" in Japanese, hence its shape.
On clear days and especially nights, the view of Hakodate from the mountain is spectacular. It is said that the night view (or yakei) from Mt. Hakodate has often been compared to that of Hong Kong or Naples. They say that this wonderful view is due to the fact that the scene is viewed at 8-10 degrees below eyesight. They say that this angle coincides with the view of an airplane pilot engaging in a stable landing, and so the city lights remind the viewer of a runway, giving the viewer a mixture of tension and relief. All in all, it is simply beautiful and breath-taking.
At the mountaintop, there is a cable car that is connected directly to an all-weather observatory. If you plan to take a walk about outside the facility, it would be wise to bring a light jacket or a windbreaker. The temperature at the mountaintop is not more than 60 degrees Fahrenheit during summer (June - Sept.), but the strong winds will drop the sensory temperature a few degrees. In the winter time, it is brass monkey cold. The cable car, which rides 125 people, departs every five minutes during rush time.
Since 1964, Mount Hakodate has been assigned as a National Reservation for Birds and Animals; there are about 600 species of plants, and about 150 species of animals reside in Mount Hakodate. There are also the memorial monuments of a zoologist Thomas W. Blakiston, who discovered a distribution limit of Japanese animals in Tsugaru Strait, and a topologist Tadataka Inoh, who published the first surveyed map of Japan. There are souvenir shops, a restaurant with the finest view, and an events hall where 12 monitors produce a multi-vision presentation that introduces the four seasons of Hakodate.
There is also a hiking course to the top that takes about an hour. The cable car station is about ten minutes walk from "Jujigai" streetcar stop. The Mt. Hakodate Ropeway station is situated near the top of the Nanbuzaka-slope; the Nanbuzaka-slope lies next to the city hall branch office of Suehiro-cho (old Marui-Imai department store).
Facilities at the summit include observation platforms (free of charge), souvenir shops, a cafe and a cafeteria style restaurant.
ACCESS TO MT. HAKODATE
The Hakodateyama Ropeway departs from the Motomachi District. The ropeway's lower station can be reached in a 10 minute walk from the "Jujigai" tram stop (3rd station, 5 minutes, 200 Yen from Hakodate Station) or by direct Hakodate Bus from Hakodate Station (10 minutes, 230 Yen, every 30 minutes in the evening only).
The cost for a ropeway ticket is 1160 Yen for a round trip and 640 Yen for a one way trip. The ropeway operates from 10am to 10pm (until 9pm during winter, from 9am during the Golden Week and summer holidays).
From late April to mid November, direct buses by Hakodate Bus operate between Hakodate Station and the summit of Mount Hakodate every evening, taking 30 minutes and costing 360 Yen for the one way journey. Day passes are valid on this bus. There are departures every 20 minutes. Fewer departures in autumn.
There is a toll free road to the summit of Mount Hakodate. However, the road gets closed to individual car traffic in the evenings between 17:00 and 22:00 from late April to mid October.
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Posted by ricky liow