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Mount Hakodate Night View Guide: Best View Times, Sightseeing Spots at Hokkaido's Famous Mountain

Mount Hakodate Night View Guide: Best View Times, Sightseeing Spots at Hokkaido's Famous Mountain

Date published: 15 August 2019
Last updated: 25 September 2020

Mount Hakodate's night view is one of the most famous in Japan. Many visitors to Hakodate make it a point to visit the top of Mt. Hakodate just for a sight of the sunset - and glittering city after dusk.

How do you get to the top of Mt. Hakodate? Are there shops and restaurants there? What is the best time to head up there?

We will answer these questions and tell you all you need to know about how to get to the top of Mt. Hakodate and the best times for enjoying the night view.

Table of Contents
  1. Mount Hakodate Access: Most popular ways of getting to the top
  2. Going to the top of Mt. Hakodate by bus, car and on foot
  3. Best Mount Hakodate night view spots
  4. The best time to see Mount Hakodate's night view
  5. Recommended spot for food: Restaurant Genova
  6. Takeout at Mount Hakodate
  7. Check out the exclusive Mount Hakodate souvenirs

Mount Hakodate is the general term that refers to the 13 different mountains located to the southwest of Hakodate City that include Gotenyama at 334 meters elevation and Yatsutsujiyama.

There is an observation deck at the top of Gotenyama, which generally is referred to as the top of Mt. Hakodate, and it is from here that you can enjoy the night view of Hakodate.

The night view from here received three stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan, and the daytime view is equally fantastic!
▲ The magnificent view can also be enjoyed over a meal in the restaurant at the mountain top.

There are a number of ways to reach the top beginning with the ropeway, bus, car, or even by walking. Note, however, that depending on the season some modes are restricted.

First, let’s look at the ropeway that goes up to the top of Mount Hakodate.

▲ The night view of Hakodate during winter (photo provided by Mt. Hakodate Ropeway)

Mount Hakodate Access: Most popular ways of getting to the top

The Mount Hakodate Ropeway is the most popular way of getting to the top of the mountain.

The fare for going to the top of Mt. Hakodate by the ropeway is 1,280 yen round-trip and 780 yen one way for adults, 640 yen round trip and 390 yen one way for children (*tax included in all fares). It takes about 3 minutes to reach the observation deck on the mountain top from Sanroku Station and the view from inside the gondola is also great.

In autumn the Mount Hakodate Ropeway is shut down for maintenance for about 10 days, but other than that it operates throughout the year. Being that it operates throughout the year, this is the only way to access the mountain top during winter.

▲ During the 3-minute ride to the top you can get an excellent view of Hakodate unfolding below

There are three main ways to reach Sanroku Station: by car and taxi, the Hakodate Tramway, and by bus.

・Getting to Sanroku Station by car or taxi
It is about 7 minutes from JR Hakodate Station and about 30 minutes from Hakodate Airport. There is a free parking area new Sanroku Station which is convenient if you come by rent-a-car. Note, though, that in the evening this parking lot becomes full, however, there is another parking lot nearby that does cost money.

・Getting to Sanroku Station by Hakodate Tramway
From the Hakodate Ekimae Station stop, get on a tram going to either Hakodate Dotsukumae or Yachigashira and get off at the Jujigai stop (about a 6-minute ride); from there it is about a 10-minute walk to Sanroku Station. For those who enjoy walking this is recommended as it is near the Motomachi area that has such popular spots as Nijukenzaka and Hachimanzaka.

▲ Hakodate Trams in Hakodate City. There’s a tram about every six minutes going from Hakodate Ekimae to Jujigai.

・Getting by bus to Sanroku Station
Loop-line buses depart from and arrive at Hakodate Ekimae every 20 minutes throughout the day (every 40 minutes between November and March); the bus going to “Motomachi & Bay-area Shuyu-go” is convenient. From Hakodate Ekimae it is about a 15-minute ride to Ropeway-mae where you get off and should then be able to see Sanroku Station before you. Note, however, that this bus does not run at night so when returning after enjoying the night view you will need to use the city tram.

▲ Sanroku Station sits upon a hill in a section of Hakodate

At Sanroku Station, you purchase a ticket on the first floor of the station building and board the ropeway from the third floor.

▲ You can use cash or various types of electronic money at the vending machine or go to the ticket office and use a credit card.

To enter, hold the boarding ticket with the QR code over the ticket gate. If you purchase a round-trip ticket you will need to use it again when you return from the mountain, so be careful to keep it in a safe place.

▲ The ropeway gondola is so large it can hold 125 passengers.

Gondolas leave the station at 15-minute intervals during the day time and in the evenings and at night every 5 minutes (times may vary depending on the season).

The night view is so popular that it attracts such a large number of visitors that often in the evening and at night people line up waiting to board the ropeway.

For those who wish to leisurely view the scenery from the window side, it is best to board the ropeway two or three hours before the sun sets.

▲ Shortly after the gondola leaves the station the Tsugaru Strait comes into view on the right in the back.
▲ Below left one can see the Hakodate St. John's Church and the Motomachi and Bay Area scenery.

Steadily the view opens up and the town grows smaller as you head up to the top of the mountain.

▲ Mt. Komagatake can be seen beyond Hakodate Bay rising above the nearby Onuma Quasi-National Park
▲ View of Hakodate City! In a moment we will reach the summit.

In addition to the ropeway there are three other ways of going to the top: by bus, car, or on foot.

Going to the top of Mt. Hakodate by bus, car and on foot

In addition to the ropeway there are three other ways of going to the top: by bus, car, or on foot.

・Getting to the summit by bus
There are scheduled buses and tourist buses. Scheduled buses go directly from JR Hakodate Ekimae to the summit of Mt. Hakodate (30-minute ride, 400 yen including tax) and are very convenient.

There are much fewer departures during the day time and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in the evening and at night the time it takes to get there is longer because at those times the roads near the summit are congested. In addition, since the Mt. Hakodate sightseeing road leading to the summit is closed in winter from mid-November to the following mid-April, the buses do not operate during this time.

▲ Scheduled buses bus stop at the top of Mt. Hakodate. Buses are frequent at night.

Regular sightseeing buses operated by Hokuto Kotsu and Hakodate Bus depart from and arrive at several different locations, such as JR Hakodate Ekimae, hotels in Hakodate City, and Yunokawa Onsen. When the Mt. Hakodate Tourist Road is closed, you will need to transfer to the ropeway at Sanroku Station.

Mt. Hakodate Tourist Road. The road passes through a grove of cedar trees unusual for Hokkaido

・Getting to the summit by car
There are certain things of which you must be careful when going by car. The Mt. Hakodate Tourist Road cannot be accessed in winter and, with the exception of a few days in the middle of April, during the night viewing time (5:00 p.m. ~ 10:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. ~ 9:00 p.m. from October) general cars, with the exception of buses and taxis, are not permitted. Even if you visit by car in the daytime and stay on the summit until the evening, when the night view time begins general cars will be required to leave the parking area.

If you're visiting with your car or a rental car at night, it is best to park near the Sanroku Station and use the ropeway.

▲ At times you get a view of the city as you are going up the mountain. Going up the view is on the right and when coming down it is on the left.

As long as there are no access restrictions, taxis are able to take this tourist road at any time.

However, you cannot get a taxi at the summit, and during the night view time parking is limited to 30 minutes at the summit parking lot. So, either visit and return from the summit in less than 30 minutes or just take a taxi up and then return by either the ropeway or a scheduled bus.

▲ Aside from the Mt. Hakodate Tourist Road, there is also a dedicated hiking path for those who wish to walk to the summit.

・Walking to the summit
If you are a hiker perhaps you would enjoy walking to the summit. From Sanroku Station to the summit observation deck it takes a little over an hour to walk up the gently sloping path. Going up is not strenuous and you can enjoy views of the nature around you, then after enjoying the night view, you can return by ropeway.

▲ Hiking path near the summit observation deck

If you are visiting by car or walking, stop by the Tsutsuji Yama Parking Lot just below the summit. The ruins of an old battery of the former Hokkaido Fortress, a designated Hokkaido Heritage Site, are near here.

From the Meiji Period until immediately after the war, Mt. Hakodate was off-limits to the general public because it was a military fortress equipped with batteries designed to protect the Tsugaru Strait. Vestiges of that time still remain in various places on the mountain, and you can see some of them.

▲ Gotenyama No. 2 Battery is a remnant of the past. It can be reached after about a 3-minute walk from the Tsutsuji Yama parking area.

Best Mount Hakodate night view spots

Now that we have explained how you can access the summit, we will next introduce three good view spots.

・Isaribi Park
Isaribi Park is the best place for enjoying the view of the ropeway coming up the mountain with Hakodate City in the background as well as the Tsugaru Strait and Shimokita Peninsula of Aomori Prefecture.

▲ This is the view from Isaribi Park which is just in front of the first-floor exit of the summit observatory.
▲ The day we visited we could just barely see the Shimokita Peninsula across the Tsugaru Strait from Isaribi Park.

・Summit Square
Go to the Summit Square beyond the bus stop to enjoy the panoramic view of Hakodate City and Hakodate Bay.

▲ The Summit Square is just outside the exit on the second floor of the summit observatory. On the right is the summit observatory and if you go to the left you will come to the bus stop.
▲ There are binocular telescopes on the summit square and in other places around the observatory (90 seconds 100 yen tax included)
▲ If you go around the building from the summit square, you can see the Hakodate city area!

Even when the observation deck is crowded during the night view time, this place along with Isaribi Park is relatively less crowded and also provides a good view.

・Roof of the observatory
The third main view spot is from the roof of the three-story summit observatory. In addition to being able to access the roof by stairs and elevator inside the building, there are also outdoor stairs you can use from the summit square.

▲ You can view Hakodate City from the roof of the observatory. You can also view it from atop the observatory (right side).
▲ The view of Hakodate city from the roof. Magnificent!

The best time to see Mount Hakodate's night view

The best time to see the night view is 30 minutes after the sun has set. This is the time when the lights in the city begin to come on, the sky turns to twilight colors - that time just before it turns pitch black.

The following photos were taken when we visited on May 7, 2019.

▲ This is the view at about 6:30 p.m. just before the sun began to set. On this day the sun set at 6:40 p.m.
▲ This is the view at 6:55 p.m. about 15 minutes after the sun set. The lights in the city are beginning to come on and the spectators at the observatory are becoming excited.
▲ Now it is about 7:05 p.m. The sky has turned a twilight color! Even though this was the day immediately following a 10-day holiday period it was quite crowded.
▲ Now it is about 7:10 p.m. Magnificent!

The best way to enjoy Mount Hakodate's night view is to stand at the observatory as the sun begins to set and watch as day turns into a night with dazzling lights coming on little by little! Those wishing to get good photos may wish to come earlier than sunset so as to secure a good spot before it becomes too crowded.

It is colder at the summit than at the ground below and as there is nothing to block the wind when it blows, the air will feel even colder.

If you plan to be spending some time outside, then it is best to be prepared and bring a warm coat with you. Even in the summer, you may need to wear long sleeves at night and in the winter you will definitely need thermal clothing!

▲ In addition to the city lights there are also illuminations in winter, making the snowy landscape even more beautiful (photo provided by Mt. Hakodate Ropeway)

In spring, spectacular cloud formations fill the sky, in summer often the night view is seen through mists. In autumn the air is crisp and clean enabling distant views to also be clearly seen, while in winter the city lights and illuminations sparkle in the snow. No matter what season you come, the view is always spectacular. Whether the view will be beautiful or not depends entirely on the weather.

If the weather should, unfortunately, be too bad to afford a good view, you can always go to the Cremona event hall on the second floor and view videos of the night view.

▲ It feels very much like a mini-theater (1 time 100 yen tax included. The film lasts 14 minutes and is shown every 20 minutes) *There are times when the video is not shown due to conditions in the building such as scheduled events or maintenance.

The video is entitled "Three-Star Hakodate Night View Full Course" that not only introduces the night view of Hakodate but also superb night scenes of other popular spots throughout the city.

Recommended spot for food: Restaurant Genova

Restaurant Genova, located on the second floor of the summit observatory, offers a superb view of Hakodate city. The daytime view is also excellent!

▲ The large windows afford an magnificent view of the city!

This restaurant serves Western and Japanese dishes made with Hokkaido ingredients.

The Special Lunch Plan (1,550 yen including tax) allows you to select one item from the menu, such as seafood curry or spaghetti, and is combined with a round-trip ropeway ticket. It is a good bargain and available from when the restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. up until 2:00 p.m. You need to purchase the Lunch Plan Ticket at the ropeway ticket sales window in Sanroku Station.

The Hokkaido Beef Stew (2,900 yen including tax) is a popular dinner item.

▲ Hokkaido Beef Stew (comes with spaghetti, salad, bread or rice)
▲ The beef rib meat is stewed for more than 6 hours making it so tender it will melt in your mouth.

Although rich in flavor it has a clean aftertaste that makes it easy to eat and is very delicious. It goes really well with wine.

▲ Hakodate Wine “Tree Ring” is a local wine (red or white 720 ml, 3,150 yen including tax). It has an easy-to-drink medium body and is the most popular label in the restaurant.
▲ Nothing is more wonderful than enjoying the night view over a delicious meal! (Photo provided by Mt. Hakodate Ropeway)

Reservations are only for dinner courses (starting from ¥ 7,000 per person, including tax, for 2 or more people); whether you can be seated without waiting or not depends on the day you visit. Incidentally, peak times in the restaurant are between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. from spring to summer and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. from autumn to winter.

  • Restaurant Genova
    レストラン ジェノバ
    • Address Mt. Hakodate Observatory 2F, Mt. Hakodate, Hakodate City, Hokkaido
    • Phone Number 0138-27-3127
    • Open: April 25 ~ October 15 11:00 a.m. ~ 9:30 p.m. (Last order 9:00 p.m.), October 16 ~ April 24 11:00 a.m. ~ 8:30 p.m. (Last order 8:00 p.m.)
      Closed always open

Takeout at Mount Hakodate

If you are not all that hungry and would like something light, there is a takeout corner on the second floor where you can buy dishes unique to Hokkaido.

Two popular easy-to-eat items are the Ikameshi-bo [squid stuffed with rice on a stick] (400 yen including tax) and Agenyokki [Deep-fried Gnocchi] (plain, scallop soy sauce, 10 of each in a box, 300 yen including tax).

▲ The Ikameshi-bo, a local specialty produced in Morimachi, Hokkaido (left) and the lightly salted scallop flavored deep-fried gnocchi (right)

These are perfect snacks to have just before you enjoy the nighttime view.

Check out the exclusive Mount Hakodate souvenirs

The Summit Shop on the second floor is a good place to look for souvenirs (hours of operation are the same as those of the ropeway). How about getting a souvenir to remember your trip by?

▲ The Summit Shop has a wide selection of items limited to Hokkaido including sweets.

I recommend selecting items that can only be found here!

▲ Hakodate Lamb Curry and Hakodate White Lamb Curry (each 400 yen, tax excluded), made in collaboration with Hakodate's long-established restaurant Gotoken, are only available here at the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway.

Both are mildly spicy yet mellow containing large chunks of delicious lamb which go together perfectly. Hakodate White Lamb Curry is a bit spicier and seems more exotic.

▲ Hakodate White Lamb Curry eaten at home will bring back memories of the night view of Hakodate. The chunks of lamb look like ships floating off both coasts of Hakodate.

Here are some other cute items you may enjoy.

▲ KITAUSAGI brand items by an artist living in Nanaecho
▲ KITAUSAGI clear file (238 yen, excluding tax), bookmarks (150 yen, excluding tax), and the Tongari Pouch for carrying rice balls (with a small Tupperware container for side dishes) (each color 2,000 yen, excluding tax)

If you forgot to buy something, there is also a shop in Sanroku Station selling gift items, though not as many, where you can get that limited-edition gift you wanted when you get off the ropeway.

I hope you found these hints on how to enjoy sightseeing on Mt. Hakodate helpful. Mt. Hakodate is the most popular sightseeing spot in Hakodate, receiving countless visitors from home and abroad.

If you visit Hakodate, then you will undoubtedly want to visit this spot as it is located close to the city. It offers one of the most exceptional nighttime views of anywhere in Japan and one that is certain to leave you with fond memories.

▲ You can enjoy these superb views thanks to Hakodate City efforts to make them better by increasing the number of orange street lamps and by illuminating historical buildings.
  • Mount Hakodate Ropeway
    • Address 19-7 Motomachi, Hakodate, Hokkaido 040-0054
    • Phone Number 0138-23-3105
    • Hours: April 25 ~ October 15 10:00 a.m.~ 10:00 p.m., October 16 ~ April 24 10:00 a.m. ~ 9:00 p.m. (Last trip up 10 minutes before closing)

      Fee: Round-trip for adults 1,280 yen, one-way for adults 780 yen; round-trip for children 640 yen, one-way for children 390 yen *all prices include tax; no charge for children under the age of two. For children aged 3 not yet in elementary school, in the case of 1 child, no charge when with an adult; in the case of two children, they are treated as one child and charged that fee.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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