No visit to Hakodate is complete without dropping by the atmospheric Asa-ichi (朝市), the morning market immediately to the west of the train station. Even if you arrive at the relatively late hour of 9am, there’s still plenty to see at the hundreds of tightly packed stalls in this waterside location. Old ladies in headscarves squat amid piles of vegetables and flowers in the central hall, and huge, alien-like red crabs, squid, sea urchin and musk melons are the local specialities. Sample the seafood atop a bowl of ramen or rice before leaving: Aji-no-ichiban (味の一番), at the back of the market, is a good choice – they serve a donburi topped with creamy sea urchin, salmon roe and fresh crab, as well as delicious, freshly squeezed melon juice (May–Oct).

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