Hokkaido is a land of agriculture. It is the largest agricultural producing
area in Japan. When Japanese people first immigrated to Hokkaido and re-claimed the wilderness about 150 years ago, they divided the vast area into large fields with straight roads running through the fields at right angles to form a grid pattern of scenery. This way of dividing the land up for farming was also applied when constructing the towns and cities. Hence, you can enjoy seeing the beautiful grid patterns in the countryside while driving on long straight roads without traffic jams. The longest straight road in Japan runs from Bibai to Takikawa for 29.2km.
In the town of Biei, farmers plant dry
field crops which need crop rotation. This style of farming creates an undulat-
ing scene of patch-work patterns. The scenery became well known after the photographer, the late Shinzo Maeda, took pictures there. It became one of the most popular tourist spots in Hokkaido.
It is not only scenery we can enjoy, but also agricultural products.
Hokkaido produces the largest amounts of many agricultural products like milk, potatoes, onions, and wheat, and these become the ingredients of numerous foods and sweets. Because of the freshness of the products due to the cool weather in Hokkaido, the taste is better than foods from other areas.
One of the most popular foods is ice cream. Hokkaido has the lion’s share of milk production in Japan. Across the vast grasslands, dairy cows graze to produce fresh milk, which is used as the main ingredient in ice cream. Almost everybody I have guided in the past has said it is a must-eat food.
In the pioneer era, one of the invited agriculture experts
from the U.S. found wild hops in the town of Iwanai, which led to the establishment of Sapporo Beer. It is said that the beer here is more delicious than other areas because of Hokkaido’s dry air and comfortable heat in summer. Other foods will certainly pamper your palate as well.
If you want to experience farming on our tour, we can
offer you a farming experience, according to your request. In the past, we have conducted popular farming experience tours which provided first-hand experience of farm life, such as making butter with milk that you have milked yourself. Today dairy farmers use machines for milking, but you can enjoy milking cows the old fashioned way – by hand. You can also make butter by shaking a bottle of fresh milk and salt. Making butter by just shaking it is so simple and fun.
Through these tours you can see that Hokkaido is not just for sightseeing,
but that it is also a land of agriculture. If you want more information about agriculture, tour guides can give it to you with interesting local stories.
By Nobu Ootsuki
Marimo at Lake Akan
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