Yakumo / HokkaidoEnjoy hands-on farm tours and spectacular night skies in southern Hokkaido

The night sky as seen from the observation deck at Yakumo Dairy Farm, Hokkaido

Yakumo is an agricultural town on the southern tip of Hokkaido, Japan's most northerly main island. It's the only place in the country with shores on both the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean. This unique and open location makes it the perfect place to unwind. From vegetable harvesting to scallop farming, Yakumo and the surrounding areas offer you the chance to experience a different side of Japan, far removed from the hubbub of city life.

Pull on your gloves to harvest vegetables, string scallops

A tour participant helps a local farmer harvest nanpakunegi spring onions

While in Yakumo, take the chance to learn about traditional farming practices from local experts. English-speaking staff in the Yakumo Village Information Center can help you sign up for one of the courses, which focus on harvesting food that you can later eat. Try pulling up nanpakunegi, a tasty strain of spring onion unique to Yakumo.

Participants string up young scallops in a process called "ear hanging"

If you're a lover of seafood, try timing your visit to coincide with the springtime scallop harvest. Japan is a world leader in sustainable scallop aquaculture, and scallop farming is a key industry in Yakumo. The entire town pitches in to help with a process called “ear hanging,” in which the shells of young scallops are strung together to make harvesting easier.

A tour participant feeds a young calf

Yakumo's climate is perfect for dairy farming, too. Indeed, the Hokkaido dairy industry is said to have its beginnings in Yakumo. The town is the ideal place to learn all about Japan's famous Wagyu beef cattle. Sign up for the one-hour-long Wagyu Cattle Care program for the chance to tour barns, bottle-feed young calves, and spread feed for the more mature animals. You'll learn all about the love, respect, and care that goes into making one of Japan's most celebrated foods.

Bathhouse atmosphere thrives at Sento guesthouse and restaurant

The recently renovated facade of Sento guesthouse and restaurant

Sento is a former bathhouse - built over 100 years ago - converted into a traditional kominka (folk house) guesthouse and restaurant. In Japanese, sento means bathhouse. Before built-in baths became common in people's homes, the sento was a place for locals to congregate and gossip, while washing away the stress of the day. Sento's owners are keen to create a space where people can gather and interact, similar to the role public baths played in bygone days.

Sento's restaurant features a table in a preserved sento bath

The restaurant is styled to reflect the atmosphere of a public bath, and serves tasty dishes featuring local ingredients. Try ordering local dishes such as Yakumo beef or pork, or white omelette rice - made using locally sourced white egg yolks - then enjoy your meal at a table installed in an old, tiled bath - a charming way to keep the original spirit of the bathhouse alive.

Futons laid out in the private Japanese-style room

When it's bedtime, head to the Sento guesthouse and snuggle into fluffy futons in the mixed or women-only dormitories. A private room is also available. The sweet smell of the tatami mats and the elegant decor of old-world Japan will lull you into a peaceful sleep.

Sento's shared, Japanese-style living room

Whatever your needs, English-speaking staff and foreign volunteers are available to help make your stay as comfortable as possible.

Look out over Uchiura Bay; gaze up at the Milky Way

The night sky, as seen from the observation deck at Yakumo Dairy Farm

For an unforgettable view of the night sky, head south to Yakumo Dairy Farm. The town-owned ranch - a 25-minute drive from Sento guesthouse - boasts one of the best panoramic views around. Though somewhat tricky to find (be sure to fire up your GPS), the journey through the beautiful countryside is well worth the effort.

Uchiura Bay as seen from the observation deck at Yakumo Dairy Farm

Upon arrival, head for the octagonal observation deck behind the main ranch buildings for a spectacular view over Uchiura Bay. On clear days, you can also spot Mt. Yotei and Mt. Usu at the opposite side of the bay.

Access information

Getting to Yakumo, Hokkaido:

Flights to Hakodate Airport from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport take around 80 minutes. The drive from the airport to Yakumo takes around 90 minutes. Alternatively, flights from Haneda to Shin-Chitose Airport take around 90 minutes. The drive to Yakumo from Shin-Chitose takes around 2 hours 30 minutes.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change. Unless stated otherwise, prices do not include tax.
*Unauthorized reproduction of material in this article is strictly prohibited.

About “Countryside Stay Japan“

If you’re looking for a new way to experience Japan, sign up for a farm-stay experience through the Countryside Stay Japan program and participate in traditional rural-lifestyle activities in recommended countryside locations.


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