Exploring Hiyama and Oshima in Southern Hokkaido – Hiyama

This is Edmond from Hokkaido Government Representative Office.

Do you know that there are many hidden gems to explore in Southern Hokkaido besides Hakodate city? Let us begin our exploration starting from the Hiyama subprefecture!

If you drive along the coastal road of Setana town (せたな町), you will come across this very unique rock formation. Due to its shape, it is named “Oyako Kuma Iwa (親子熊岩)” as it resembles a parent and a child bear.

“Oyako Kuma Iwa”


Heading further on along the road to Otobe town (乙部町), you will also find many other various rock formations all along the “Shirafura coast (シラフラ海岸)” making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset above the horizon.

“Shirafura coast”


Also, don’t forget to drop by “Guild Endeavour”, a fashionable Italian restaurant to enjoy a glass of local craft beer.

“Guild Endeavour” restaurant

Local craft beer


Next, head to Assabu town (厚沢部町) for a delicious Japanese set meal at the popular “Maei Shokudo (前井食堂)” restaurant.

Japanese meal at “Maei Shokudo” restaurant


Moving on, we are heading to Esashi town (江差町), which is a port town full of history, located just 1 hour 30 mins away from Hakodate city via car. You definitely have to stop by this town if you have an interest in seeing how Japan looked like in the past.

One of the main attractions of the city is the song “Esashi oiwake (江差追分)”.

“Esashi oiwake” is one of Japan’s leading folk songs that is said to be sung in Esashi town approximately some 200 years ago. Every year from April to October, you will be able to witness authentic “Esashi oiwake” at the “Esashi Oiwake Kaikan (江差追分会館). Also at the adjoining “Esashi Yama Kaikan (江差山車会館)”, you can see the various large floats (“Yama” in Japanese) that are used during the “Esashi Ubagami Daijingu Togyo Festival”, which is held from 9-11 August annually.

Esashi Ubagami Daijingu Togyo Festival:

“Esashi oiwake”

“Esashi oiwake” performance stage in “Esashi Oiwake Kaikan”

Various “Yama” on display at “Esashi Yama Kaikan”


Another historic attraction of Esashi town is the “Kaiyo-maru (開陽丸) memorial hall”.

Kaiyo-maru was a frigate used during the end of the Edo period and served in the Boshin war during the Tokugawa Shogunate and was wrecked off the coast of Esashi town.

At the “Kaiyo-maru memorial hall”

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, a replica of the Kaiyo-maru is currently on display at the docks in Esashi town and it also serve as a museum, displaying the salvaged remains of the original ship.

The museum has an impressive display of artifacts such as pistols, everyday tools used during that period, the hammocks used by the crew, etc. You can even view the cannons of the ship and hear the sounds of it being fired.

Replica of Kaiyo-maru at the “Kaiyo-maru memorial hall”

Hammocks used by the crew of the ship

Cannons of the Kaiyomaru on display


Also, on 3 March every year, Japan celebrates “Hina Matsuri” or “Girl’s day”, which is a traditional custom where families with young girls display beautiful “Japanese Hina Dolls” in their houses to wish for prosperity and good health for their daughters.

Therefore during this period along “Inishie Road (いにしえ街道)”, you will be able to see a wide array of dolls being displayed in the shops and tourist facilities, especially at a café called “Ichibankura (壱番蔵)” and at the former town hall “Esashi town meeting hall (町会所会館)”.

Alongside the modern dolls, there are also older dolls that are made over 150 years ago. You will be able to spot the difference in the craftsmanship of the dolls throughout time.

The dolls will be up on display annually from early-February to mid-March.

“Japanese Hina Dolls” on display


Delicious cake set at “Ichibankura”


If you are looking for a place to stay while visiting the town, you should consider staying at the “ESASHI RYOTEI KUKI (江差旅庭群来)”.

You can stay at one of the only seven guest rooms available, where the rooms are all single-storied, spacious and comfortable. Complete with decks, they are independent structures, positioned like detached houses surrounded by their own gardens.

In addition you can enjoy delicious local seasonal creative cuisines produced from freshly caught seafood, jidori (local) chicken, suffolk sheep, mountain and organic vegetables.

“ESASHI RYOTEI KUKI” is also blessed with 100% natural hot spring waters, which you can soak and relax in after a long day.



Hot spring bath in “ESASHI RYOTEI KUKI”



Speaking of Esashi town, one cannot forget about the delicious Esashi Herring and you will be able to try it along with other various delicious local cuisines at “ESASHI RYOTEI KUKI”.

Delicious Esashi Herring


Do continue to read our next post, as we explore further south towards the Oshima subprefecture!

Oshima: https://hokkaido-asean.org/wp/tourism/2715

Also, do not forget to follow Hokkaido Government Representative Office’s Facebook page, to get more information on Hokkaido food and tourism, as well as to be informed on events that we organise in the future.

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