When compare to that of the rest of Japan, Hokkaido turns out to have had a different history. Influenced by Jomon culture characterized by hunting and fishing. Then followed by the nature-embracing Ainu culture. Before the Wajin (Japanese people from mainland Japan) settlement, the island was then known as Ezo. Until around 150 years ago (in 1869) the early government of the Empire of Japan gave Ezo the new name of Hokkaido.
On the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Hokkaido, the Historical Village of Hokkaido was established to mark the centennial foundation. This is the place where we can experience in seeing what it was like a hundred years ago, just like watching through a window to Hokkaido’s past.
My last visit to the village was during the month of January. From the heart of Sapporo, it can make a worth one-day trip destination. An almost 20-minute local train ride from Sapporo Station took me to Shinrin Koen Station (260 yen). The best option after this should be taking a short bus ride at the station (5 minutes, 210 yen). But somehow my boyfriend and I decided to take a walk when we heard that only 1 or 2 buses come per hour. On one good day in a warmer season, this might have been a heck of a thought. But man! in winter that the whole town was already tucked under white powdery snow, it was not a good idea.
However, the route we opted for the walk offered the most beautiful winter scenery of the neighbourhood, despite freezing hands and slippery footpaths. We got to walk pass Hokkaido Centennial Memorial Tower and through an official track at the entrance of the Nopporo Forest Park.
Thirty minutes later we found ourself standing before the original Sapporo Railway Station Building and that was where the excursion began. Here, you can get the village admission ticket (800 yen) and a pamphlet available in multi-languages.
Upon stepping inside this 54 hectares of wonderland after the ticket building, I was voluntarily struck with awe by the wintry landscape of the village. There was no crowd insight which was very much to my delight. Just us and a whole village covered up in a thick layer of snow to explore.
To admire the entire space in the more traditional sense, the village provides the horse-drawn trolley during the summer period and the horse-drawn sledge in the winter. Unfortunately, the sledge wasn’t available at the time of our visit we then had to do the exploration again on foot.
The village is well organized into four sections: town area, farm village, fishing village, and mountain village. Most of the historical structures featured inside were relocated from across Hokkaido to display lifestyles and culture in the region’s pioneering year. Too bad that we didn’t get to learn about them all. I blame that to my not-very-wise decision of not taking a bus to the village which it did take much of our time and energy. All we got to see was only those structures in the town area.
Another reason for this massive attraction to take an extra time of yours is that almost all of the buildings are opened for you to survey and see what is inside. They are nicely equipped and furnished with old-looking artifacts to display what Hokkaido’s culture was like in the olden days.
I don’t want this post to be too wordy so here I’ll let these pictures tell you how charming the (town area of the) village looks in white winter.
To sum up! My visit to the Historical Village of Hokkaido in winter really did exceed my expectation. The picture of those well-organized buildings lining along the path overwhelmed by fresh powdery snow was something that would blow your mind away. If you are willing to put this well-deserved attraction on your plan to Japan during winter which I highly recommend you to, a little tip from me is never walk from the train station, take a bus!
How to get to the Historical Village of Hokkaido from Sapporo station:
- Route 1: Sapporo Station – Shinrin-Koen Station – No.22 Kaitaku no Mura bus (210 yen)
- Route 2: Sapporo Station – Shin-Sapporo Station – No.22 Kaitaku no Mura bus (210 yen)
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