The harbor of Hakodate was one of the first to be opened to foreign trade in 1854 after Japan's era of isolation had come to an end. As a result, many traders from Russia, China and Western countries moved to Hakodate. Motomachi, at the foot of Mount Hakodate, became a district favored among the new foreign residents.
Many foreign looking buildings remain in the area today. Among the most famous are the Russian Orthodox Church, the Old British Consulate, the Chinese Memorial Hall, the prefectural government's former branch office building and the old Hakodate Public Hall.