Do you know a unique vehicle in regions with heavy snowfalls? It’s a “horse sleigh”. Don’t you want to try riding a horse sleigh with jingling bells, pulled by a horse native of Hokkaido? The place you will be able to do this is “Historical Village of Hokkaido”, where historical buildings from the mid 19th Century to early 20th Century is reassembled and reconstructed.
▲Horse sleigh runs through snowfalls
▲A horse native of Hokkaido pulls the sleigh. “Akashi” and “Riki” works by turns. When I covered, Arashi pulled the sleigh.
The horse sleigh goes back and forth from the entrance and the total duration is about 10 minutes.
▲There are not any fixed timetables, the sleigh leaves when there are any passengers. I think this looseness represents Hokkaido culture?
▲A guide will be on the sleigh and explains each buildings in the course.
By the way, Hokkaido is one of the biggest horse breeding grounds. In 2004, “Horse culture in Hokkaido” is registered as one of Hokkaido Heritage. As the term for Hokkaido native horses “Dosanko” is also used for “Hokkaido native PEOPLE”, Hokkaido and horse can never thought separately.
▲Horse sleigh are used for playing with snow as well. (Photo by Sapporo City Archives)
▲For people in Hokkaido, horses were the necessary partner. (Photo by Sapporo City Archives)
▲The sleigh was originally a sleigh to carry woods. It was called “Bachibachi sleigh”.
Sleighs to carry woods, snow, and people are now disappeared, but they are reborn as sightseeing horse sleigh and entertain us nowadays.
▲ Horse runs slow and sometimes fast by driver’s instructions.
When you actually ride, you will feel more speed than you thought when you are looking at it. Especially when the road is icy, the back seats will be twisted by centrifugal force. However, horse never runs as speedy as people fall down, so even little children can ride safely. Actually, it gives you a little thrill that makes you feel as if you are riding on a horse.
▲The jingling bells used to be an alarm whistle at the times when horses were used as transportation, and also worked to avoid encountering bears when carrying woods in the mountains.
This horse sleigh riding is only available when there is snow. If you come to Sapporo for sightseeing during the winter season, come visit Historical Village of hokkaido! The horse sleigh riding is available every weekends and national holidays until March, and everyday during Sapporo Snow Festival. Children (3-14 years old) are 130 yen per person, Adults (15+) are 270 yen per person.
Written by / Hokkaido Likers writer Takako Chiba
Photo by / Suwa Photograph Office
Oct - Apr 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Last entry is 4:00 p.m.)
May - Sep 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Last entry is 4:30 p.m.)
Closed every Monday and the holiday period from December 29th through January 3rd (except when Monday is a holiday, Tuesday will be closed instead)
* 5/1-9/30 Open Everyday
Winter (Dec - Mar) Adults (15-64) 680yen, College,University,&High School Students 550yen
Summer (Apr - Nov) Adults (15-64) 830yen, College,University,&High School Students 610yen
Under Junior High and over 65 are free.
For others, refer to the official website.