There may be no better way to appreciate the mixture of tradition and modernity that has made Japan famous than by renting a traditional kimono and wandering around the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse. The warehouses themselves are relics of Japan’s opening to international trade toward the end of the Edo Period. They were built in 1909 to store goods being shipped to and from Russia, Korea and the rest of Japan. Now, completely renovated, they welcome shops of all kinds. Spend the day hopping between each of the seven buildings, enjoying all the different delights here.
It is not necessary, but rent a kimono from the on-site costume shop to get a tiny sense of how these warehouses may have appeared back in the day, as well as some great photos. Wander through the different halls, which are full of stores selling candy, clothes, tchotchkes and more. Grab some of Hokkaido’s famous squid, still one of its major exports, or souvenirs for friends and family back home.
Take a break in some of the restaurants, including Hakodate’s favorite homegrown burger joint. Rejuvenated, tackle the second half of the more than 50 stores, trying not to be overwhelmed by the variety and abundance of traditional crafts on display.
End the day at the Beer Hall, which celebrates Hokkaido’s long legacy of beer brewing. Go outside to see the elegant structures reflected on the silvery surface of the water of the canal.
The Kanemori Red Brick Warehouse is on the northern edge of Hakodate’s spit, not far from the shipping industries that once made them famous. Walk from Hakodate Station in about 20 minutes or walk from the Jujigai tram stop in 5 minutes. Get to Jujigai in about 5 minutes by tram from Hakodate Station. Drive from Hakodate Station in 5 minutes or from the airport in 25 minutes. Metered on-site parking is available.
The complex is open daily from mid morning to mid evening, though restaurants stay open later.