The Best 10 Sightseeing Destinations in Asahikawa with Animals, Ramen, Natural Landscapes and More!
Asahikawa in Hokkaido is an area located close to the major city of Sapporo. It is blessed with vast natural landscapes and there are plenty of scenic places to see here, as well as sightseeing spots like a world-class zoo, galleries, and parks where you can enjoy plants, animals, and art. This article will introduce the best sightseeing spots in Asahikawa, a city with many highlights!
Aug 19 2019 (Sep 09 2020)
Asahiyama Zoo is one of the most visited zoos in Japan, and is popular as a sightseeing spot where visitors can see lively animals in person. The adoption of "behavior exhibits", which allow visitors to observe animals' natural behavior, has caused a boom in the zoo's popularity.
The seal exhibit here is a particular highlight. Walking through the transparent glass tunnel you can see seals swimming freely all around you, making this a popular photo spot.
There are many sights you can only see at Asahiyama Zoo, including the polar bear exhibit where you can witness the dynamic way these bears swim through the water, and the king penguin exhibit where in winter you'll see these birds making their way over the snow. This is a zoo where you can a see a huge range of animals and their different behaviors all in one place!
Snow Crystal Museum
The Snow Crystal Museum is built with the motif of beautiful snowflakes falling on a wintry mountain range. The exterior is designed with a medieval European theme, while the interior of the museum has an original design based on the image of snowflakes. This pure white art museum is incredibly beautiful - you'll spot the snow crystal pattern all over the venue!
This gorgeous building gives you a sense of being in a medieval European castle, and is also often used as a wedding venue. Inside the museum, you can see an ice corridor that is open year-round, snow-themed picture books that are no longer being printed, and other attractions that immerse you in a beautiful world of snow.
Kamui Kotan translates in the local Ainu language to "a place where gods live." This name refers to both banks of the Ishikarigawa River and the river basin with swift rapids. Its known for its picturesque scenery, particularly its beautiful fall foliage, and is counted as one of Asahikawa's eight scenic spots.
The native Ainu people of the area used waterways as their main means of transportation. It's believed that this area along the Ishikarigawa River was named "the place where gods live" as a prayer for safe passage through the particularly treacherous rapids here.
This spot also features some hiking trails which are great for anyone who likes trekking.
Located in the heart of Asahikawa, Tokiwa Park was the first public park opened in the city, and there are many types of plants growing on the expansive grounds. There are beautiful flowers and plants to enjoy every season here, including cherry blossoms and tulips in the summer, marigolds and scarlet sage in the early summer, and autumn foliage in the fall, so this park welcomes many sightseers and visitors year round.
Seasonal events include a summer fireworks festival held at the adjoining Riverine Asahikawa Park, the autumn Blessings of the North: Shoku no Marche gourmet event, and a winter festival with illuminations and winter fireworks.
Ueno Farm is an English style garden created by a family who also operates a rice farm in the area. This family was not originally in the gardening business, and in fact began the garden by planting flowers in order to create some beautiful scenery to welcome the customers who came to buy rice from their farm. Today, the expansive agricultural land has been reformed from the soil up to create an English garden full of beautifully blooming perennial plants. Ueno Farm is open to the general public, so anyone can come by to enjoy the lovely gardens here.
The farm also has a cafe housed in a remodeled barn as well as a store that sells seedlings from the plants grown here. The chance to take in the beautiful gardens, enjoy a cup of tea, and even buy some seedlings to take home with you is sure to be irresistible for anyone who enjoys gardening.
Asahiyama Park adjoins Asahiyama Zoo, and is famous for its cherry blossoms. In the cherry blossom season the park sees countless visitors who come to see the 2,300 cherry blossom trees planted in the park. The gorgeous sight of the trees lit up in the evenings creates a truly magical atmosphere. The clusters of dogtooth violets here also adds to the sense of the arrival of Hokkaido's spring.
The park is located on a hill and offers a panoramic view of Asahikawa City. The view at night makes this a beautiful spot that's perfect for a date. The cherry blossoms in the spring, green foliage in the summer, and bright red autumn leaves all have a beauty of their own that draws people to the park year round.
Hokkaido Gokoku Shrine
Constructed in the Meiji Era, Hokkaido Gokoku Shrine deifies the spirits of fallen soldiers from Hokkaido and Sakhalin. The Heisei Building (formerly known as the Imperial Army 7th Division Northern Military Memorial Building) functions as a museum that exhibits material on Hokkaido's military history.
While this shrine is primarily dedicated to consoling the spirits of those who died in service, events are also held year round. The shrine is particularly famous for its New Years burning ceremony, which is an event where many people visit to ceremonially dispose of the amulets and other religious items they used the previous year.
Otokoyama Sake Brewing Museum
Otokoyama is an area that has brewed high quality sake (Japanese alcohol) since the Edo period (1603-1868). This Japanese sake, which is known for its quality even overseas, is made from underground water sourced from Hokkaido's snow covered mountains. Sometimes called the "water of longevity", this water is well known among Asahikawa locals. This museum displays tools and materials on the Edo period sake brewing practices, giving visitors a chance to experience the history of sake brewing.
Otokoyama sake also appears in many ukiyo-e artworks created during the Edo period, suggesting that this famous sake has been loved ever since that time. These ukiyo-e pictures are also displayed here, so you can even learn about the history of sake in Japan from many different angles.
Asahikawa Station is one of Hokkaido's major stations. It celebrated its grand opening after major renovations in 2011. The glass-walled station building is full of natural light, and through the windows you can see a panoramic view of the snow covered mountains and the Chubetsukawa River that runs at their foothills. The warm, wood-toned interior design uses timber for the posts and ceilings. At a glance, the concrete building seems as though it's built from wood.
A number of limited express trains stop here, including the Kamui and Soya, and the Asahiyama Zoo Train also runs on weekends, so this station definitely has lot to offer for train enthusiasts!
Asahikawa Ramen Village
Asahikawa Ramen Village opened in 1996 with the goal of spreading Asahikawa's ramen culture. You'll find a range of Asahikawa's famous ramen restaurants here, including popular shops like Aoba and Santouka.
Asahikawa Ramen Village is located in the large-scale shopping center Asahikawa Powers. Since this shopping center is located close to Asahiyama Zoo, it's a popular destination that sees many visitors year round.
With fun facilities like a a ramen shrine where you can pray for your relationships to be as long as noodles and benches shaped like rice bowls, this is a spot where you can really savor Asahikawa's ramen culture.
A Trip Enjoying Natural Scenery, Zoos, and Ramen
Asahikawa is located right beside Sapporo, which makes it a town blessed with magnificent natural landscapes not far from Hokkaido's major city center. This area has many attractions that give visitors a chance to get a sense of Ashikawa's culture through natural scenery, zoos, galleries, and more.
Asahikawa is a great place to experience Hokkaido's culture and natural scenery, so why not visit on your next trip to Japan?
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Translated and republished with permission from: SPIRA (formerly known as Relux Magazine)
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.