Yakumo / HokkaidoConnect with Locals While Experiencing Rural Life in Yakumo, Hokkaido

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Bucolic farmlands and fresh ocean air greets visitors to Yakumo, whose hilly terrain stretches across the middle of the Oshima Peninsula of southern Hokkaido. A rare municipality with coasts on both the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Japan, Yakumo is a wonderland of bounty from the sea, land, and hills populated by welcoming locals offering a variety of interactive experiences.

Located roughly one-third of the way between Hakodate and Sapporo, two of Hokkaido’s main cities, the town is convenient to both major train stations and airports. With support from local NPO Yakumo Genki-mura, it’s easy to enjoy all the area has to offer, regardless of Japanese proficiency.

Pound Rice into Sweet Treats with a Mochi-Tsuki Experience

In mochi-tsuki, one person pounds, while another flips the rice between mallet strikes.

After arriving in town, dive right into your Yakumo adventure by getting your hands sticky making mochi rice cakes out of freshly steamed glutinous rice. At Chiba Farm, you’ll be draped in a bright blue happi coat and handed a large wooden mallet for a chance to try this traditional sweet-making activity called mochi-tsuki.

A variety of fillings can be folded into mochi, with anko sweet bean paste being a common choice.

Once the steaming rice has been walloped smooth, work with the Chiba family to shape the still-warm dough into snacks filled with homemade anko sweet bean paste known as daifuku. As you stretch, fill, and roll your mochi, chat with your hosts about the town, the surrounding hills, and the farm. Family patriarch Hikotaro Chiba in particular brims with stories about bears (the hills are full of them!), farming, and life in Yakumo.

Chiba Farm’s Hikotaro Chiba keeps up a steady stream of lively conversation throughout the visit.

Chiba Farm also offers vegetable-harvesting experiences and rice-paddy walks that will give you an up-close look at the lifestyle of a Hokkaido farming family.

Marvel at Spectacular Views of Yakumo

Pastureland, cultivated fields, and woodland give way to Yakumo and Uchiura Bay.

Stomach stuffed with mochi and head filled with tales of Yakumo, make your way to the overlook and observatory at Yakumo Dairy Farm, for fresh air and fantastic views. To the east the Yakumo townscape and Uchiura Bay, also known as Funka Bay, spread before you, while to the west, Mt. Yurappu and other peaks of the Oshima Peninsula tower over the land.

The town of Yakumo, with its many fields for grazing, raises cattle for areas of Japan that lack pastureland.

Surrounded by verdant fields dotted with grazing cattle, you can’t help but soak up the slower pace of this rural paradise. Visit the overlook as part of Yakumo Village’s Yakumo Town Sightseeing Tour, or for an evening of admiring the celestial show that commences once night falls.With little light pollution to interfere, myriad stars speckle the night sky, and the Milky Way stretches across the darkened heavens.

Enjoy Unique Accommodation in a Former Bathhouse

Low-cost and comfortable, Kominka Guesthouse SENTO makes a great base for area exploration.

In the days before indoor plumbing became standard, the Japanese would gather at community bathhouses known as sento to clean their bodies and exchange news with neighbors. While this custom is no longer common, some of the old bathhouses still exist—though often in a different form.

Enjoy a harmonious Japanese aesthetic, whether in a dormitory or private room.

In the case of Yakumo’s sento, the more than 100-year-old building has found new life as Kominka Guesthouse SENTO and Restaurant SENTO. Spend the night cozied up in a dormitory—women-only or mixed—or private room with tatami flooring, and enjoy camaraderie with fellow guests and staff in the lounge.

The lounge backs onto a garden, with a deck and outdoor seating.

Located a mere 10-minute walk from Yakumo Station, SENTO is equipped with two showers, two washrooms, a basic kitchenette, and a pay-washing machine, for a comfortable and convenient stay. Out back, a lawn, garden, and deck provide the perfect place to sit back and relax between adventures.

Savor Yakumo Specialties at Restaurant SENTO

Visitors can sign up for local activities at Restaurant SENTO.

Attached to the guesthouse is Restaurant SENTO, which serves a variety of dishes made with ingredients harvested in and around Yakumo. Thanks to Yakumo’s location, this includes farm-grown fare as well as seafood.

Local ingredients from land and sea make for a diverse and delightful menu.

Seat yourself at one of the sunken bathtub booths to truly feel the history of the building as you enjoy your meal, and keep things local by ordering Yakumo-brewed beer and locally produced sake.

Harvest Leeks and Enjoy a Riverside Barbecue with Locals

There’s more to it than just pulling up on the stems!

Start your second day in Yakumo back on the land, with vegetable picking at Morioka Farm. Several crops can be harvested by visitors depending on the season, including sweet potatoes and edamame. The star of the show, however, is leeks, both regular leeks grown outdoors and harvested in fall, and high-grade, greenhouse-cultivated nanpaku leeks harvested in winter.

A regular leek-harvesting experience involves pulling leeks from the ground—harder than you’d think—followed by sampling grilled leeks.

Barbecue at Morioka Farm.

The menu depends on the season, but will include local vegetables and meat—and plenty of amiable conversation. Vegetarians can have their veggies grilled separately.

For a full meal and extra activities, choose Morioka Farm’s barbecue plan, which will see you whisked away to a secluded spot in the forested hills. Here a small river for fishing flows past an open field equipped with covered barbecue area, as well as a rustic hot spring.

Banjaku-no-Yu, a homemade hot-spring hut built right next to the fountainhead.

Spend time fishing, splashing through the river, and soaking in the hot spring to the sounds of the breeze in the trees, the singing of insects, and the gurgling of the river. This is relaxing Yakumo style, so kick back and enjoy an afternoon of good food, friendly conversation, and sumptuous soaks in the soft, smooth water that bubbles up from the ground.

Access information

Getting to Yakumo, Hokkaido Prefecture:

Yakumo can be reached by train in approximately one hour from Hakodate Airport and two hours from Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport. Traveling by car, it takes approximately 1.5 hours to reach Yakumo from Hakodate Airport and 2.5 hours from New Chitose Airport.

Article provided by: JTB Communication Design, Inc.

*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 Stays“

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

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