In Hokkaido This Summer 2017? Don’t Miss These 6 Special Summer Events!

  • Hakodate (函館) is one of the largest cities in Hokkaido (北海道). Regarded as one of the most enjoyable places to visit, Hakodate attracts tourists due to its historical buildings, beautiful scenery, and great local food. Not only is it a popular destination during winter with its powder snow and illumination events, but it has also been a favorite getaway during summer because of its low humidity and cool weather. Check out below 6 events and festivals this summer 2017 that you cannot miss!

    1. Hakodate Marathon (函館マラソン)

    Unleash your athletic prowess and join the annual Hakodate Marathon! Held every first Sunday of July, this athletic event gathers thousands of runners to compete and run along the streets and shores of this wonderful city.

    Hakodate Chiyogadai Stadium (千代台公園陸上競技場) is the starting point of this half-marathon event. Enjoy running around the surrounding area while appreciating the breathtaking natural views.

    Hakodate Marathon Official Website *Japanese Only

    2. Learn About Hakodate’s History at an Open-Air Theater

    Watch as hundreds of Hakodate locals volunteer and take part in the open-air play, Hakodate Yagaigeki (函館野外劇), staged at the special historical site Goryokaku Park (五稜郭公園). It first started in 1988 and was inspired by the French open-air theater Le Puy du Fou. The 2017 shows will be performed from July 14th to August 12th.

    This outdoor drama tells the rich history of Hakodate. It draws thousands of spectators to see the reenactment of the historical accounts during the age of the Ainu (アイヌ), the Japanese ethnic group from Hokkaido. The story tells of the opening of the port in Hakodate, which symbolized the first international trade it brought to the country, the Battle of Hakodate (函館湾海戦), and the great fires that tested the people’s resilience.

    Hakodate Open-Air Theater website

    3. Hakodate Port Fireworks Display (函館港花火大会)

    Summer is always accompanied by fireworks and Hakodate is no exception during this season. Be delighted at this spectacular show as the colorful fireworks display lights the port area complemented by sounds and music. You can enjoy watching this massive event in various places around the harbor on July 16th, 2017.

    Hakodate Port Fireworks Display website *Japanese Only

    4. Hakodate Port Festival (函館港まつり)

    The Hakodate Port Festival is considered to be the largest summer event in the city. A display of fireworks marks the start of the festival and the whole port area is transformed with thousands of people parading and dancing to traditional music. In 2017, the festival will take place from August 1st to August 5th.

    One of the anticipated performances is the Squid Dance, or Ika Odori (いか踊り), which is a traditional dance to show their gratitude for the abundance of fresh seafood, especially squid, that this city is well-known for. The dance and chants are easy to memorize so people can easily follow and participate in the dancing. Booths for delicious food and fun games are also available.

    Hakodate Port Festival official website

    5. World Music and Dance Festival (はこだて国際民俗芸術祭)

    Just like the fireworks display, music festivals are always present during the summer season. Held at Motomachi Park (元町公園), the World Music and Dance Festival gathers artists from different countries to give spectacular performances for thousands of people. Get fired up and dance to the various lively music and experience cultural exchange that unifies people. Join the event from August 5th to August 11th 2017!

    World Music and Dance Festival Official Website

    6. Yunokawa Hot Spring Fireworks and Display (湯の川温泉花火大会)

    Another great show of fireworks can also be seen and enjoyed towards the end of this season. The Yunokawa Hot Spring Fireworks Display is the last event of the summer, held on August 19th, as people start to prepare for the coming autumn season.

    Fireworks are set off near the vicinity of Yunokawa Onsen with lighted lanterns floating near the Matsukura River (松倉川). Yukura Shrine (湯倉神社)’s portable shrine is paraded around the area to give respect and tribute to the guardian deity of the Yunokawa Onsen.

    Yunokawa Hot Spring Fireworks and Display Official Website *Japanese only

    These are just some of the things that you can do this summer in Hakodate. Apart from these annual events, strolling around the beautiful landscapes and enjoying the cool breeze will let you relax and unwind. Beat the summer heat and have fun at these great outdoor activities!