What are Hokkaido Heritage sites ?
According to the Hokkaido Heritage official website, Hokkaido Heritage is defined as the selection of tangible and intangible assets that should be handed down to the next generations.
The sites are selected according to several criteria. The selected sites may have an academic or aesthetic value but also an emotional value. Some sites are called “Hokkaido Heritage” because they have been preserved by the locals or will surely be preserved by communities.
The Asahi Bridge
Asahikawa is known as the "City of Rivers and Bridges", with 130 rivers of all sizes - including the Ishikari River - and over 750 bridges. The symbol of Asahikawa is the Asahi Bridge.
Added to the Hokkaido Heritage list in 2004, the Asahi Bridge is one of Asahikawa's most famous landmarks, and is one of the eight most beautiful sights in Asahikawa.
The bridge was built in 1932 and played an important role as it connected the city to the headquarters of the Army’s 7th Division. Together with the Toyohira Bridge in Sapporo and Nusamai Bridge in Kushiro, it was once known as one of the three most famous bridges in Hokkaido. Now only the Asahi Bridge is remaining.
The Asahi Bridge has also been selected as a Civil Engineering Heritage Site by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers, for its beautiful arched shape. This is one reason of why it has been added in the Hokkaido Heritage list. The other reason is the beautiful scenery you can see from the bridge. You have a great view of the Ishikari River and can see the Daisetsuzan range on the horizon, a beautiful scenery changing with the seasons.
The Uryū-numa Wetland
About 1 hour drive from Asahikawa.
The Uryu-numa Wetland in Uryu-cho is one of Japan's largest mountainous high-altitude marshlands, stretching 4 km from east to west and 2 km from north to south on a plateau at 850 m above sea level.
The wetland is dotted with more than 700 ponds and is home to more than 200 species of alpine plants such as Asian skunk-cabbages, Ezo-kanzou, hare's-tail cottongrasses, Uryu-kohone (a species of water lily), Sawagikyo (species of lobelia) and Ezo-rindou (a species of Japanese gentian).
The Uryu-numa Marsh, with its internationally valuable wetland vegetation, was designated as a natural monument of Hokkaido in 1964, added in the "Shokanbetsu-Teuri-Yagishiri Quasi-National Park" in 1990, and registered in the Ramsar Convention on Wetland in 2005.
It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to climb up the mountain from the gate park to see the Uryu-numa Wetland. From the Uryu-numa Wetland entrance a 3.5 km wooden path is installed and allows you to enjoy the beautiful scenery and alpine plants while trekking at your own pace.
The Forest railway Steam locomotive, Amamiya No. 21
The forest railway steam locomotive "Amamiya No. 21" was the first 11-ton locomotive made in Japan and was assigned to the Maruseppu Murii forest railway in 1928. The locomotive was used for transporting timber and daily commodities from the national forests, but was discontinued in 1958.
From the locals request, the locomotive was transferred to the town of Maruseppu in 1976 where a forest park called "Maruseppu Forest Park Ikoi-no-Mori Railway" was built, to keep the locomotive running.
Today, this is the only forest railway steam locomotive in Japan still in motion.
Thus, it was added to the Hokkaido Heritage list in 2004.
The forest railway steam locomotive, Amamiya No. 21, in “Maruseppu Forest Park Ikoi-no-Mori Railway” is located in Engaru. It is 2 hours by car away from Asahikawa.
In the park, there is a 2 km long rail track which you can ride on with the steam locomotive Amamiya 21. In the park, there are also, a campsite with fully equipped bungalows, the Maruseppu local history museum, a dog park and a playground. This is the perfect place to enjoy with your family!
Sometimes you just want to take your car and go to unknown destinations. But since we got out of the house, going to places where we can feel Hokkaido’s uniqueness may be fun too !
Currently, 67 sites have been registered as Hokkaido Heritage. We don't know how many years it will take, but we will do our best to introduce them all.
Translated from Tora’s article.