Hakodate is one of several cities in Japan that continue to operate trams, also known as streetcars. While the network has been reduced in scale over the years, Hakodate’s trams are still a very convenient way to see the sightseeing spots including Goryokaku, Motomachi and Mt. Hakodate Ropeway. The trams are also fun for people who enjoy photography. Some of the cars have a vintage look and some are very modern in appearance.
There are only two tram lines in the city, and they follow the same route except for the last three stops, at the foot of Mt. Hakodate. The routes are 10.9 km long and are distinguished by color and number:
Route 2 (red, station codes starting with Y): Runs from Yunokawa, stopping at Matsukazecho, Hakodate-Ekimae, and Jujigai, and terminates at Yachigashira.
Route 5 (blue, station codes starting with D): Runs from Yunokawa, stopping at Matsukazecho, Hakodate-Ekimae, and Jujigai, and terminates at Hakodate-Dokkumae.
How to ride the Hakodate City Tram
To ride a tram, make your way to the closest tram stop, which are islands in the middle of main streets. Look at the signs to be sure you’re boarding a tram going to your destination. Trams arrive every 6 to 12 minutes during the day.
Board the tram by the door in the second car—not the one in the front car. You will hear announcements of the stops as you ride. When you want to get off at the next stop, push one of the red buttons to alert the driver.
Fares vary according to distance traveled. You pay when you get off. Fares for adults are usually 210 yen to 260 yen.
Trams accept prepaid transportation smartcards used in Japan such as the Suica, Pasmo, Icoca, and Kitaca cards. Tap your card to the sensor by the door when you enter, and then the sensor at the front of the car when you get off.
You can also pay with cash. To do so, get a numbered ticket from the ticket machine at the entrance when you board. The number indicates the stop where you got on. When you get off, check the fare display near the driver for the fare that corresponds to your stop number. Then, drop your numbered ticket into the slot on the fare box by the driver. Your fare will be shown on a small display. Drop the money into the slot on the fare box.
Please note that fare boxes do not give change. To get change before you get off, go to the fare box and insert your yen coins or bills into the change machine.
If you’re planning to make three or more tram trips in a day, it’s worthwhile to buy a One-Day Tram Pass. These cost 600 yen for adults and 300 yen for children. They are available from tram drivers, hotel front desks and at the Hakodate Tourist Information Center at Hakodate Station. The passes have maps of the tram network. Simply scratch off the year, month and day when you want to use a pass.
Hakodate combined tram and bus passes are also available for one or two days. The one-day combined pass costs 1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children. The two-day combined pass costs 1,700 yen for adults and 850 yen for children.
Sightseeing by tram
Trams for Mt. Hakodate Ropeway, Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse and Motomachi
For Mt. Hakodate Ropeway, from Hakodate-Ekimae near Hakodate Station get on either a Route 2 or Route 5 tram going toward Yachigashira or Hakodate-Dokkumae. Get off at Jujigai (D/Y 20) and walk uphill, about 7 minutes, to the Mt. Hakodate Ropeway terminal.
For the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse shopping mall area, from Hakodate-Ekimae near Hakodate Station get on either a Route 2 or Route 5 tram going toward Yachigashira or Hakodate-Dokkumae. Get off at Jujigai (D/Y 20) and walk northwest, about 7 minutes, toward the bay.
For Motomachi, where you can visit historic buildings such as the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward and the Former British Consulate, from Hakodate-Ekimae near Hakodate Station get on either a Route 2 going toward Hakodate-Dokkumae. Get off at Suehirocho (D21) and walk uphill toward Motomachi Park.
Trams for Goryokaku Fortress and Yunokawa Onsen
For the historic fortress of Goryokaku, from Hakodate-Ekimae near Hakodate Station get on either a Route 2 or Route 5 tram going toward Yunokawa. Get off at Goryokaku-Koenmae (D/Y 09) and walk about 10 minutes to Goryokaku Park.
For the hot spring district of Yunokawa Onsen, from Hakodate-Ekimae near Hakodate Station get on either a Route 2 or Route 5 tram going toward Yunokawa. Get off at Yunokawa-Onsen (D/Y 02).
Article by Tim Hornyak. All rights reserved.