Open main menu

HAKODATE, a town on the south of the island of Yezo, Japan, for many years regarded as the capital of the island until Sapporo was officially raised to that rank. Pop. (1903) 84,746. Its position, as has been frequently remarked, is not unlike that of Gibraltar, as the town is built along the north-western base of a rocky promontory (1157 ft. in height) which forms the eastern boundary of a spacious bay, and is united to the mainland by a narrow sandy isthmus. The summit of the rock, called the Peak, is crowned by a fort. Hakodate is one of the ports originally opened to foreign trade. The Bay of Hakodate, an inlet of Tsugaru Strait, is completely land-locked, easy of access and spacious, with deep water almost up to the shore, and good holding-ground. The Russians formerly used Hakodate as a winter port. The staple exports are beans, pulse and peas, marine products, sulphur, furs and timber; the staple imports, comestibles (especially salted fish), kerosene and oil-cake. The town is not situated so as to profit largely by the development of the resources of the Yezo, and as a port of foreign trade its outlook is indifferent. Frequent steamers connect Hakodate and Yokohama and other ports, and there is daily communication with Aomori, 56 m. distant, whence there is rail-connexion with Tokyo. Hakodate was opened to American commerce in 1854. In the civil war of 1868 the town was taken by the rebel fleet, but it was recovered by the mikado in 1869.