Motomachi is a picturesque neighborhood of steep slopes and turn-of-the-19th-century Western-style clapboard homes and buildings. Situated at the foot of Mount Hakodate, the area was a favorite with the many traders from Russia, China, Western countries and other foreign residents who moved to Hakodate with the opening of the port to foreign trade. The area around Motomachi maintains a congenial blend of Japanese and Western cultures in the Old Public Hall of Hakodate Ward, an important cultural property, as well as the old British Consulate, Haristo Sei-kyokai or the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Higashi-Honganji branch temple.
One of the neighborhood’s characteristic structures is the Motomachi Roman Catholic Church (15-30 Motomachi, Tel: 138-22-6877). After the first Catholic missionary, Rev. Fr. Mermet de Cashon, arrived in Hakodate in November 1859, he built a chapel in 1861. The current structure was built in 1924 after the previous ones burnt down in 1868 and 1921. The altar was contributed by Pope Benedict XV and is the only altar in Japan to have such an honor. Behind the building is a grotto in image of the Lourdes Cave.
Motomachi Park is where Hakodate was originally founded. Motoizaka slope, paved in stone, extends wide and straight from the park all the way to the sea. There have been governmental offices located there since the mid-Edo era (1700s). Until 1950, it served as the center of the administration in Hokkaido and Southern Hokkaido area.
In the park stands the “Old Hokkaido Agency, Hakodate branch office,” built in 1909. In addition to a historical photograph museum on the second floor, the building is also used presently as the local tourist information center. It is open daily 9am to 7pm (to 5pm in winter).
The Motomachi district is situated at the foot of Mount Hakodate, and easily accessed from JR Hakodate Station in a 5 minute tram ride or 15 minute walk.