April 19, 16 | Akiko Miyanaga
Local Identity is everywhere! Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station
“Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station” officially opened as the new gate to Hokkaido on the same day to Hokkaido Shinkansen commenced service. The building of this station contains lots of local identities. I will introduce inside of the station and lively atmosphere on the day of the opening.
The Shinkansen Station was born in the northern land of Japan“Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station” opened on the same day of Hokkaido Shinkansen commenced the service, which is 26th March 2016. This station rebuilt Oshima-Ono station located in Hokuto City, the city next to Hakodate City. It’s about 18 kilometers away from Hakodate Station, and it takes 15-19 mins by the JR express train called “Hakodate Liner”, 19-22 mins by the local train, and 30-40 mins by cars. From Tokyo, it takes 4hours 2minutes at fastest by Hokkaido Shinkansen.
▲The brand-new sign of the station.
Let’s find the local identities expressed in designs!The building is a complex of Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station and Hokuto City Tourism Exchange Center. The design of this building emphasizes the unification of the city and natural beauty.
There are an event space and a shop on the first floor, and Hokuto City Tourist Information and a rest area on the second floor.
Below is the hallway in front of the escalator on the second floor. The wall is glass-sided, so the building gets plenty of lights and gives you a relaxing moment of arrival and departure.
▲The big white pillars on the window are the symbol of station building design.
The design of the three pillars on the window is inspired by the row of poplars in Tobetsu Trappist Monastery.
▲You can notice the shape of poplars clearly when you see the station building from the front.
And the secret of the warm-feeling interior is “sugi trees from Southern Hokkaido”.
“Dounansugi” trees, the major tree in “Minami Hokkaido”, are used everywhere in this building.
* “Minami Hokkaido” is the term describes the group of 2 cities and 16 towns in South Hokkaido (2 cities and 9 towns in Oshima, and 7 towns in Hiyama).
▲ “Dounansugi” trees are used everywhere, such as the ceiling.
The northern limit of the cultivation of sugi trees, the tree lives up to 2,000 - 3,000 years and grows tallest in Japan, is here “Minami Hokkaido”. Sugi trees have been used as life materials here in Hokuto City from a long time ago.
Dounansugi is used for benches too. It creates a relaxing atmosphere.
▲The mark of Hokuto City is branded on the bench.
And the part that feels the local identity of Hokuto City is the red bricks in the interior.
Moheji area in Hokuto City is known for the great quality of clay for a long time. The first red brick factory in Hokkaido was established here in Hokuto City. Red bricks are used for interior everywhere in the station, creating the warm atmosphere.
▲The digital signage in front of the Shinkansen ticket gate. Digital texture and warm red bricks mix pretty well.
The historical red bricks which supported the development of Hokkaido are replicated in this construction. The bricks are laid in Flemish bond style which creates beautiful patterns on the surface.
I found another Hokuto City identity!
The gates at the platform use yellow color inspired by “marmelo", which is one of the specialties of Hokuto City.
▲The gates use the color of marmelo. Marmelo is a fruit similar to Chinese quince. (Photo provided by Hokuto City).
Hokuto City is called as “the village of marmelo in Hokkaido”.
Find Zushi-Hokki, the official character of Hokuto City!Stickers with red dragonfly are everywhere to prevent people running into the glasses in Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station and Hokuto City Tourism Exchange Center.
This is because the lyrics of a Japanese children’s song called “Red Dragonfly” was written in Tobetsu Trappist Monastery by a poet Rofu Miki who was teaching literature there.
▲Red dragonfly stickers give me a relief.
And of many stickers, 7 stickers of the official character of Hokuto City “Zushi-Hokki” are hidden! I was told that you will be lucky if you find them!
If I hear that, I could not help looking for Zushi-Hokki. I walked around the station and looked for the stickers and found one of them after 5 minutes!
▲Zushi-Hokki, as one would expect. Only the shadows express a unique sense of existence.
A small game to find Zushi-Hokki stickers, “Find 7 Zushi-Hokki!” is running right now.
You will get a prize, a Zushi-Hokki tin badge, if you find 5 or more stickers out of 7.
▲Mai Ramirez from Hokuto City Tourism Association introducing “Find 7 Zushi-Hokki!”
This tin badge is really rare so why not try this? This game is held at “Hokuto City Tourist Information” on the second floor.
▲There is information for tourists not only about Hokuto City but whole “Minami Hokkaido”. They even cover information about Sapporo and Aomori.
And what’s happy for travelers is the mobile phone and smartphone charging service.
▲The mobile phone and smartphone charging service at “Hokuto City Tourist Information”.
I actually needed to charge my phone so it helped me so much.
On the day of the opening, Moheji Junior High School was doing “Where did you come from?”, asking people to put stickers on the map indicating where they came from.
▲Many stickers were put around Tokyo region, central Hokkaido, and Taiwan.
And on the wall in front of the Shinkansen gate on the second floor, the famous Japanese sculptor / designer Takenobu Igarashi’s public artwork “LuceArte” is constructed.
▲The light shapings used hand-blown glasses “MukuMuku the song dedicated to light and earth”.
The light shapings used hand-blown glasses are inspired “Junsai Pond”, “flowers coloring Onuma Park”, “Marigold” Hokuto City’s symbol flower, and “Komagatake”.
Revitalization of Hokuto City with Kenshiro!? What to see on the first floorThere is a shop sells specialties of “Minami Hokkaido” called “Hot Marche Ogal” and event space “Hot Gallery” on the first floor of Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station.
▲About 450 items are sold at “Hot Marche Ogal”, like Hokuto City’s specialty tomato soft serve.
The event space “Hot Gallery”, exhibits Jomon culture and Ainu culture in Hokkaido, and the statue of Kenshiro, which can be seen only at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station throughout the world, from the popular Japanese comic book “Hokuto No Ken”.
▲The event space “Hot Gallery” uses red bricks to create the relaxing atmosphere.
The volunteers from Hokuto City had the campaign to use Kenshiro to promote Hokuto City because they both have the word “Hokuto” in their names. Thanks to their effort, their dream came true and the statue of Kenshiro was put here in Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station.
▲The statue of Kenshiro from “Hokuto No Ken”, “Hiko (the hidden points) to the tomorrow”. A ceremony was held on the day of the opening, and Son Buron the author and Tetsuo Hara the drawer came here too.
In the end, let me introduce the hand-drawn welcome board put in front of the JR ticket office (Midori no Madoguchi) on the opening day.
▲“Who could imagine the day Shinkansen coming to this town…?” The thoughts and dreams about Hokkaido Shinkansen were written here.
How was Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station with lots of attractions and local identity?
A lot of energy from locals are put to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station, the new gate to Hokkaido.
Why don’t you visit Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto station?
Photo provided by / Hokuto City
Text, photo by / Hokkaido Likers photo writer Akiko