Love Live! Sunshine!! and Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kikan are two well-loved animes that take place in Hakodate, Hokkaido. Here are the best places where you can sightsee and recreate your favorite scenes!
The second incarnation of Love Live! introduced us to Aqours. In episodes 8 and 9 of the second season, they travel to Hakodate to participate in the regional preliminaries.
“Even places that are far apart can be very similar,” says Riko. You’ll agree when you reach the Motomachi neighborhood. When Hakodate opened its port to foreign trade, Western immigrants started living on the slopes between the sea and Mount Hakodate. Among the distinctive buildings, you’ll see colonial-style homes, consulates, and churches.
Yamaguchi Yoshiaki from Japan / CC BY-SA
Episode 8 of Love Live! Sunshine!! opens with Aqours caught in a snowstorm. After lamenting over the weather, they reveal that they’re outside of Hakodate Station. The facade looks nearly identical to how the show represents it. Hakodate Station is also currently the only station you can reach in Hokkaido on the Shinkansen.
The Hakodate Arena is the venue for the Love Live regional preliminaries. There, Aqours meet with Saint Snow and watch their unfortunate performance that knocks Saint Snow out of the competition. The Hakodate Arena looks different from how it appears in the anime. However, the real Saint Snow performed here during the Hakodate Unit Carnival.
When Aqours goes sightseeing in Hakodate, their first stop is at Goryokaku Tower. The 107-meter high observatory offers a commanding view of Goryokaku Fort, the Tsugaru Strait, and the Yokotsu mountain range. The sight is particularly gorgeous in late April and early May when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.
No trip to the Hakodate is complete without riding the ropeway! Episode 9 ends at Mount Hakodate’s observatory. The sight from the ropeway, especially at night, is one of Japan’s top three most scenic views. Try to go right before sunset to watch the city lights turn on one by one.
Every Hokkaido native makes a stop at Lucky Pierrot when they visit Hakodate, and so does Aqours! If you want to go to the same location that they do, head to the bay area main shop. And yes, you can order the Futoccho Burger, just like Hanamaru, and a cup of Original Lucky Potato Fries.
The Lucky Pierrot Bay Area Main Shop is near the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses. In this area, Ruby and Leah decide to write and perform a song dedicated to their sisters, which later becomes “Awaken.” The warehouses first opened in 1869 during the golden age of trade between Hakodate and Western countries. Couples often visit the atmospheric neighborhood, especially during illumination festivals.
English: Abasaa日本語: あばさー / Public domain
If you want to stay in the same place as the girls, book a room at the Hakodate Kokusai Hotel. Conveniently located near the Morning Market, the Hakodate Kokusai Hotel offers Western-style accommodations with either city or sea views. Onsite facilities include a public hot springs bath, three full-service restaurants, and a breakfast buffet with Western and Japanese cuisine.
Leah and Ruby go to the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward to apply to perform during the Christmas festival. The marvelous blue and gold building is a prime example of Western influence on Hakodate’s architectural aesthetics. The concert hall, where Leah and Ruby present before a committee, holds events throughout the year. The Old Public Hall also has bedrooms where VIPs like the imperial family stay when they visit Hakodate.
During Aqours’ sightseeing excursion, they take a break at a restaurant where, surprisingly, the members of Saint Snow live and work. The Kazuno’s house is based on a cafe called Sabo Kikuizumi. They serve the same menu that the show features and plenty of other traditional dishes, too. You can also purchase merchandise from the show and sign a fan guestbook.
Rasetsu and Water of Life elixir aside, Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan is about real-life events and people from Japanese history. The Shinsengumi have appeared in many dramatic adaptations over the years and continue to fascinate the public. There are many places in Japan related to them, including battlegrounds, fortresses, and memorials.
Saigen Jiro / CC0
In the anime, Toshizo Hijikata’s fate is a little ambiguous. However, the historical figure he’s based on did indeed pass away during the Battle of Hakodate. On May 11th, 1869, the government’s forces caught up with the Shinsengumi and the shogunate army. That was the beginning of the end of the Boshin War.
Hijikata Toshizo suffered a fatal wound as he led his troops to the Ippongi Kanmon checkpoint. In the show, you can see Ippongi Kanmon in the background of this heartbreaking scene. The checkpoint gate is still standing, and next to is a memorial dedicated to Hijikata Toshizo. His fans leave flowers all year round, and many more attend on his death anniversary to pay their respects.
Hijikata becomes Vice-Commissioner of the army in the new Republic of Ezo towards the end of the series. Feeling pressured by his new role, he leaves a party and climbs the outer walls of Fort Goryokaku. Ootori joins him, and they talk about the possibility of creating a new nation under Enomoto’s leadership. The entire conversation takes place as they take in the view of Mount Hakodate.
不明 / Public domain
During the Boshin War, Benten Daiba was a fortress where the shogunate army prepared ships for invasions. It gets mentioned several times in the last episodes of Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan. Hijikata reunites with the Shinsengumi at Benten Daiba, and it’s also where Ooita’s forces get overwhelmed. The fort itself no longer exists, but you can find a monument for it on Hakodate Dock.
Hakodate Bay appears in the background during the second to last episode of Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan. After losing on Miyako Bay, Hijikata returns to Hakodate Bay, where Chizuru is waiting for him. Knowing that defeat is inevitable, he urges her to leave, but she promises to stay by his side until the end.
Fort Goryokaku is Hakodate’s central attraction and the most recognizable location featured in Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan. The star-shaped fortress served first as a defensive point from Western powers, then was the Boshin War’s last battleground. After it lost its military status, it opened as a public park in the 1910s. Now, it’s a popular place to have a hanami party when the cherry blossoms bloom.
The Former Magistrate’s Office is in the center of Fort Goryokaku. Officers from the Tokugawa shogunate would administer foreign and domestic policies from here after Hakodate Port opened to trade. The facade and the interior appear in several scenes of the final episodes.
Hekketsuhi is a cenotaph dedicated to the samurai killed during the Battle of Hakodate. When Enomoto officially surrendered on May 18th, 1869, the new government’s troops forbade burials for the shogunate army. All of the bodies were buried in a mass grave at Jitsugyoji Temple. In 1871, a magistrate in Hakodate exhumed 800 and reburied them halfway up Mount Hakodate.