Asahikawa is located north of Sapporo in the Kamikawa
Subprefecture. It is the second largest city in Hokkaido
with over 350,000 residents living in the area. Asahikawa
acts as the center of the Kamikawa Valley and is
surrounded by the Daisetsuzan Mountain Range. The
city is known for holding the record in Japan for the
coldest temperature of -41°C in 1902. The area was
originally called “Chiu Pet” in the Ainu language meaning
“river with wave,” but the pioneers from mainland Japan
misheard it as “Chup Pet,” which means “sun river.” Thus
the name Asahikawa where “asahi” means morning sun
and “kawa” is river in Japanese. The city has 130 rivers
and streams running through it like the Ishikari, Biei,
Ushibetsu and Chubetsu rivers. Over 740 bridges were
built around the abundant supply of water, but the most
famous bridge is the Asahibashi. The bridge was
completed in 1932 over the Ishikari River and has
become the symbol of the town, while remaining
unchanged from the day it was built.
Asahikawa is mainly used as a transition point for Wakkanai in the north, Biei and Furano to the south and Daisetsuzan National Park to the southeast. Asahikawa has ample access to land and water, which makes it great for farming. The sake from Asahikawa has won many prizes for using the superior Hokkaido rice in the brewing process. Although Asahikawa is not known for being a tourist place, there is still the Asahikawa Zoo, which is one of the best zoos in Japan to visit and is second to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo for visitor attendance. The innovative design of the facility allows visitors to see the animals from numerous angles at a close proximity. There are also places within the city where artisans use the lumber to create a variety of crafts. Before the colonization of Hokkaido, Asahikawa had a high population of Ainu people. When the head of the Kaitakushi, Hokkaido Development Committee, made the suggestion to set up militias to defend against Russian threats, the Meiji government then sent people to do just that. These people were referred to as tondenhei, which means they were farmers part time while serving as soldiers defending against different oppositions. The group was made up ex samurai whose feudal lords fought against the Meiji government and lost.
Hokkaido | Asahikawa
Otokoyama Sake Brewery
Boasts a 340-year history of making sake, has won numerous awards worldwide.
Hokkaido | Asahikawa
Ranked number two in volume for attendance; the northernmost zoo in Japan.