April 02, 13 | Shizuko Kosuna
"Historic Buildings in Mashike Town" - The 11th entry in our Hokkaido Heritage Series.
Mashike Town sits beside the Sea of Japan and long ago the herring fishing industry at Sengoku Basho helped the town thrive. Although the fishing industry has disappeared, visitors to the town can still see remnants of those glory days in the buildings that remain. Walking the city will give visitors a sense of the classic Japanese architecture and way of life that former residents enjoyed. While the herring industry has disappeared, the town is still famous for its sweet shrimp.
During the Meiji and early Showa eras, many large wooden and stone buildings were constructed to house the large fishing industry. The amount of herring brought in from the Sea of Japan provided the manpower and money needed to help the town prosper.
The splendor of those days can still be seen in the many buildings that still stand in town. As soon as you exit JR Mashike Station, an unmanned station at the end of the Rumoi Line, you come across a number of these magnificent structures lining the streets.
When I visited, as soon as I stepped off the train, I thought that I had gone through a time warp! The strange landscape and style of architecture are reminiscent of towns built 100 years ago.
Let me introduce you to just a few of the buildings that gave me this strange feeling.
■ "Kazemachi Cafeteria" (Tada Shop)
Just beside the station building hangs a sign for "Kazemachi Cafeteria." This shop was featured in the 1981 movie "Station," which starred Ken Takakura and Chieko Baisho. Constructed in 1933, the building is now the town's tourist information office.
【増毛町観光案内所】(Mashike Town Tourist Information Center)
Location: 1-Chome, Benten-cho, Mashike-cho
■旧商家丸一本間家 (Former Merchant House Maruichi Honma)
This building can be found at the intersection directly straight ahead of the station. Built in 1882 by Sado born Honma Taizo, this stone building was originally a dry goods store. The shop, gardens, and road in front of the building have all been restored to represent the height of the herring fishing and shipping days. Even the old real-estate documents have been recreated by hand to show the prosperity of the Honma family.
【旧商家丸一本間家】(Former Merchant House Maruichi Honma)
Location: 1-Chome, Benten-cho, Mashike-cho
■ 国稀酒造 (Kunimare Brewery)
A bit further down the road you can find this wooden building with a cloth hanging outside which reads "sake." The Kunimare Brewing building is the furthest north of all brewing buildings in Japan. This famous spot was first founded 130 years ago, and rebuilt in 1918. Visitors can take part in sake tastings, study old sake making tools, and, at the end of the trip, take home a bit of the groundwater from Mt. Shokanbetsu, which is used to make the sake.
Location: 1-Chome, Inaba-cho, Mashike-cho
■ 増毛小学校 (Mashike Elementary School)
The elementary school, located on Mt. Sokanbetsu and overlooking the Sea of Japan, is also an important historic building. Built in 1936, this wooden building was used until 2011. Currently this building is being used for concerts and other events, so it is a building familiar to more than just graduates.
【増毛小学校】(Mashike Elementary School)
Location: 120 Miharu-cho, Mashike-cho
Due to the historic feel of the town, it is easy to imagine what daily life was like in Mashike during cold, harsh winters, and vibrant summers. To be sure, many stories can be told about days long since past, and you get a glimpse at their roots when you visit.
To wrap up, allow me to introduce a few interesting facts about JR Mashike Station, where all adventures in time begin.
・"Zoumou" good luck charms are available in shops in and around the station.
・In the summer, handmade 100% buckwheat soba noodles, made in Mashike Town, are available for purchase at the "Mashike Station Soba Shop." They have a reputation for being delicious!
For those Hokkaido Likers interested in Hokkaido history, Mashike Town is wonderful place to visit. All of the buildings introduced today are located within a ten minute walk from the station! Of course, when you visit be sure to try the area's famous sweet shrimp, salmon, and flounder for lunch or dinner!
Mashike Tourism Information:
http://mashike.jp/tourism/ (English Available)
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Kosuna)
(Photographs provided by the Hokkaido Heritage Council)
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