A journey through Hokkaido Heritage sites II

A journey through Hokkaido Heritage sites II

In this article, we will introduce the second part of our tour of Hokkaido's heritage sites: Nikka Whisky Yoichi’s Distillery, the historical buildings in Mashike, and Ainu place names.

What is Hokkaido Heritage?

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.

次の世代に残したい北海道の宝物 北海道遺産



Nikka Whisky Yoichi’s Distillery

Masataka Taketsuru, who is known as the father of Japanese whisky, chose Yoichi in Hokkaido as the ideal place to make whisky. In 1934, Dainippon Kajuu Company (The great Japan fruit juice company), the predecessor of Nikka Whisky, was established. Two years later, the pot still was lit and Nikka Whisky's whisky production began.

Many of the buildings from the time of its foundation are still remaining today. This is why Nikka Whisky Yoichi’s Distillery was selected as a Hokkaido Heritage Site in 2004.

Nikka Whisky Yoichi’s Distillery guided tours are available by appointment only. Thanks to this fully explained guided tour, you can see the world's only coal-fired distillery, its copper pot still used since the establishment of the distillery, and the former Taketsuru residence where Masataka Taketsuru lived with his wife Rita.

But the best part of the distillery guided tour is the free tasting. At the end of the guided tour, on the first floor of the "Nikka Kaikan,” you can have a whisky or a non-alcohol drink. You can also buy some limited edition whiskies at the Distillery Shop Northland shop, which are not easily available except at the Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery.



Nikka Whisky official web site. A Japanese producer of whisky and spirits. Features product information, history, and distilleries.

Name: Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery
Address: Yoichi-chō Kurokawa-chō 7-chōme 6
Tel: 0135-23-3131 (Information Desk)
Visiting hours: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm, 13:00 pm - 15:00 pm
Parking: Available

The Historic buildings in Mashike (the Historic buildings in front of the station and Mashike Elementary School)

The historical buildings of Mashike (the historical buildings in front of the station and Mashike Elementary School) were selected as Hokkaido Heritage in 2001.

The street in front of the former Mashike Station is lined with historic stone and wood built buildings, including the Maruichi Honma House, a cultural asset built in the mid-Meiji period, and the Kunimare Brewery, Japan's northernmost sake brewery, founded in 1882.

The "Old Mashike Elementary School" was built on a small hill in 1936 and is the largest wooden elementary and junior high school building left in Hokkaido. This school building was actually in use until 2011.
Just how many children have spend their school life here ?

The building that bears the sign of Kazemachi Shokudo, just in front of the old Mashike Station, is known to have been the location for the film "Eki Station" starring Ken Takakura. Now, it is used as a tourist information centre during the tourist season from May to September.

Name: Kunimare Brewery
Address: Mashike-gun Mashike-chō Inaba-chō 1-chōme 17
Tel: 0164-53-1050
Opening hours: 9:00 - 17:00
Closed: Open all year round (except New Year holidays)
Parking: Available

Ainu place names

Many place names in Hokkaido are derived from the Ainu language. In 2001, "Ainu place names" were also chosen as Hokkaido heritage. Did you know that there are many place names and river names from Ainu language in Asahikawa ?
Currently, there are 37 Ainu place names with display boards explaining the origin and the meaning of the Ainu names.

The display board showed on the photo is located right next to the school gate of Chikapuni Elementary School in Midorimachi 17-chome, Asahikawa. It explained that “Chikapuni” comes from the Ainu word “Cikap-un-i” meaning “the place where the birds are”.
Cikap= bird
Un= are
I= place

At Asahikawa Airport, there is an Ainu name board explaining the origin of the naming of Asahikawa. At lot of Asahikawa citizens learned this at school.

The signboard says:
“The Ainu call the Chubetsu River, which runs through Asahikawa, ‘cup-pet,' and the Japanese interpreted the word, "cup-pet,” meaning “sun-river,” as “the river on which the sun rise”. The city was named in 1890.

Asahi= morning sun
Kawa= river

Apparently, there is also an "Ainu place name board" near the car park not far from the Kamui Ohashi Bridge at Kamui Kotan.

The name of Kamuy-Kotan, as written in other articles, means the village (Kotan) of the God(s). This place was also featured in the popular anime and manga "Golden Kamuy”.


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.



Hello there!

I am in charge of translating in english some of asatan's articles.
I'm from France and I have been living in Hokkaido for 6 years.
Things I like : drawing, pokemon, online games,
Things I don't like : melon, lags, waking up in the morning


Sightseeing driving


How about a short trip to Obihiro?

How about a short trip to Obihiro?

It's getting warmer and the weather is starting to feel more like spring. Driving in the snow can be a bit scary, but the roads are now free of snow and it's getting easier to drive. Obihiro is about a 3 hour drive from Asahikawa. Let's enjoy a carefree spring drive !

A journey through Hokkaido Heritage sites I

A journey through Hokkaido Heritage sites I

Hokkaido's long winter is finally over ! When the weather is nice, don't you feel like going for a drive? If you're in the mood, why not take a trip to Hokkaido's heritage sites?

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Our nosy tour guide at Asahiyama Zoo (indoor habitats)

Our nosy tour guide at Asahiyama Zoo (indoor habitats)

Don't miss out the fun of the winter zoo (until April 7th) !! Here are our tips to fully enjoy the zoo and some of its many indoor enclosures.

Our nosy tour guide at Asahiyama Zoo (outdoor habitats)

Our nosy tour guide at Asahiyama Zoo (outdoor habitats)

Don't miss out the fun of the winter zoo (until April 7th) !! Here are our tips to fully enjoy the zoo and some of its many outdoor enclosures.




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