The sound of the coal miner’s lunch siren, the sheer mountain face, the old horse-drawn coal carts, the black faces of miners on their way to bathhouses after a long day at work... All are old memories of the coal mining town, Yubari.
In the year 1913, when coal was referred to as “black diamond,” the Hokkaido based “Hokkaido Colliery & Steamship Co.” (Popularly known as Hokutan or Northern Coal) needed a place to entertain guests and to meet with important officials. Their solution was to build “Hokutan Deer Valley Clubhouse.”
Up through 1983 the building was primarily used as a reception hall and guest house. Throughout this time, the building was used only by the upper-class, and wasn’t well known to the public. However since 1994 the hall has been open to the public under its new name “ Yubari Rokumaikan.”
▲The front door of Yubari Rokumaikan.
Built in the fashions and styles of the early 1900s, the building has an interesting mix of Eastern and Western construction. As fits its use by the upper-class, the building is ornately decorated with some of the finest artwork of it’s time.
▲The one story wooden building sits on 85,330㎡ of land and has a total floor space of 1,500㎡. The authentic Japanese-style of the architecture is rare in Hokkaido.
The building's rooms are positioned to look out over the spacious lawn in a style that mirrors other large Japanese residential buildings such as Kyoto’s Ninomaru Palace in Nijo Castle, or the Katsura Imperial Villa.
▲In 1954, Emperor Showa and his Empress stayed as guests in this building. Then again in 1958 the Crown Prince (The current Emperor) stayed again during a coal mine inspection.
I, myself, was actually born in Yubari, so I guess you could call me a child of the Yubari coal mine,
I have faint memories of humming “The daughter of Yubari~, Black diamonds~” during the Bon Odori (a japanese festival) in town, hearing the siren calling the mine’s first shift to their lunches, and of course hearing the name “Hokutan Deer Valley Clubhouse” and imagining it was some great castle where a princess lived.
There weren't very many visitors to this site in the past, so the decour, furnishings, and gardens all remain in their original condition. This allows us the possibility to see the majesty in which these heads of industry lived. This was the wealth of the Yubari coal kingdom of the early 20th century!
▲In October of 2001 Yubari Rokumaikan was recognized as a Hokkaido Heritage site.
In addition to being open to the public as a memorial hall, the building is now the location of several other attractions. Be sure to check out the "Corridor of Light," a hallway with approximately 150 stained glass lamps linings its walls. The french restaurant "Miredi," which uses fresh local produce in its meals. There is also "Sanso Evening" lodgings, so you can come to enjoy a relaxing day visit, or stay over night!
2-Chome, Shikanotani, Yubari, Hokkaido
■Hours of operation: 10:00 - 6:00 (Doors close at 5:30)
■Entry fee: Adults- 500 Yen, Elementary School Students- 300 Yen, Younger- Free
Lunch 11:00 - 2:00 (Last Order - 2:00)
Dinner 5:00 - 9:00 (Last Order - 8:00)
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Chiba Takako)
※All photos are courtesy of Yubari Rokumaikan