Release | Takako Chiba
A journey in Ikeda Town - Hokkaido Likers x Tokachi Ikeda-Cho
Hey everyone! Why don’t you visit Tokachi Region and witness the clear blue sky and feel refreshing air that even people in Hokkaido thinks it’s really Hokkaido-like. Hokkaido Likers recommends Ikeda-Cho in Tokachi Region!
Table of Contents- Travel from Tokyo to Obihiro, stay a night in Tokachigawa Onsen and enjoy Ikeda-Cho on the next day
- Where is Ikeda-Cho located in Hokkaido?
- Charter a Wine Taxi for sightseeing in Ikeda-Cho
- Tokachi Wine and Wine Castle
- You can see the Wine Castle in the current figure until October 2019
- You can find the very rare treasure for railway fans at Ikeda-Cho Local Museum!
- Winter grape fields, snowfields from the observation deck, and cranes, swans, foxes
Travel from Tokyo to Obihiro, stay a night in Tokachigawa Onsen and enjoy Ikeda-Cho on the next dayI planned a weekend trip from Tokyo to Obihiro, stay a night in Tokachigawa Onsen, and enjoy Ikeda-Cho on the next day then go back to Tokyo.
First, take an airplane from Tokyo (Haneda Airport) to Tokachi Obihiro Airport. It takes about 1hour and 35 minutes.
If you plan to use public transportation after the arrival, head to JR Obihiro Station by the airport bus (about 40 mins) and transfer to a local bus and ride for about 28 mins to Tokachigawa Onsen.
There is a campaign which you can get 1,000 yen round ticket from JR Obihiro Station to Tokachigawa Onsen free for travelers staying in Tokachigawa Onsen. The campaign is until 31 March 2019.
If you plan to use a car or taxi, it takes about 35 mins to Tokachigawa Onsen from the airport.
▲Tokachigawa Onsen is a moor hot spring which is quite rare in Japan. It is also called “beauty bath.”
The picture is provided by Otofuke-Cho Tokachigawa Onsen Kanko Kyokai.
By the way, it takes approximately 2 hours and 50 mins from Sapporo to Ikeda-Cho by car via East Hokkaido Expressway.
It is quite a work to travel a long distance within Hokkaido no matter by a car or JR trains. It is sometimes easier to travel from Tokyo when the destination is close to airports.
Where is Ikeda-Cho located in Hokkaido?People in Hokkaido can imagine where Tokachi is but those who are not familiar with the map of Hokkaido might not be able to locate it instantly.
I will tell you how to memorize where Tokachi is. First, imagine the diamond-shaped map of Hokkaido.
Consider that it’s where the circle is in the map below. It might be easy to remember when you consider the area is from the coastline towards the inland.
▲Remember this map to memorize where Tokachi is roughly.
For details, Tokachi Region is here. There is a total of 19 cities, towns, and villages.
* The picture is provided by Tokachi Tourism Federation
Ikeda-Cho is slightly east from the center of Tokachi Region.
Charter a Wine Taxi for sightseeing in Ikeda-ChoIt is nice to use a rental car to travel around the Tokachi Region except for winter. It is quite dangerous to drive in winter unless you are used to driving snowy roads.
So I would like to recommend chartering a taxi for sightseeing in Ikeda-Cho. The name of the taxi is “Wine Taxi.”
▲This is a Wine Taxi. I can see how wine is important to Ikeda-Cho.
You won’t be able to find cruising taxis in Tokachigawa Onsen and Ikeda-Cho, so don’t forget to make a reservation.
Wine Taxi offers several plans to enjoy Ikeda-Cho that starts and ends in Tokachigawa Onsen.
Those plans are also able to customize from the basic plans. You can adjust the priorities of destinations where you want to visit and see first.
Wine Castle is a must-visit if you come to Ikeda-Cho. If you use a taxi, you don’t have to worry about driving and can enjoy tasting wines, too.
Also, drivers can stop wherever you want, so you can ask the driver to stay a while at beautiful spots to take beautiful pictures. Drivers also have deep knowledge about their local town Ikeda-Cho. There are lots of good points about using Wine Taxi.
Hokkaido Likers chartered for the three hours course to visit around Tokachigawa Onsen, Wine Castle, Ikeda-Cho Local Museum, and Ikeda Station.
The fee for three hours course is approximately 16,380 yen. However, they can consult with you to adjust the route, time, and prices so feel free to contact them about your travel plans.
Tokachi Wine and Wine CastleIkeda-Cho is famous for wines with the “Tokachi Wine” brand.
There are no companies to manufacture and sell wines. Ikeda-Cho grows grapes and brews wines, which means the town produces Tokachi Wines.
It began when town hall staffs started growing grapes and brewing wines to save the town from the financial crisis in 1945 to 1955.
Today, Ikeda-Cho is one of the most famous wineries in Hokkaido and one of the top-brands of Japanese wines.
They host “Wine Festival” in October every year. Approximately 5,000 visitors from and outside of Hokkaido come to the festival to enjoy local foods of Tokachi such as grilled Ikeda-Cho produced Tokachi Beef and free-flow of Tokachi Wines. It is the biggest event in the town.
▲Wine Festival in Ikeda-Cho
The picture is provided by Ikeda Town Tourist Association
By the way, the population of Ikeda-Cho is 7,123 as of 31 December 2015.
“Ikeda-Cho Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology” brews wines and as the building looks like a European medieval castle, it is known as “Wine Castle.”
▲Ikeda-Cho’s Wine Castle.
Wine Castle is free entry, and you can see it around freely. However, I strongly recommend registering the free “Wine Castle guided tour.”
▲Yoshihiro Miyazawa from Ikeda-Cho Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology showed around Wine Castle for us.
He gave us very informative explanations about grapes grown in Ikeda-Cho and characteristics of wine as we walked through the curing room in the basement, process of sparkling wine production, and the new brandy curing room.
▲There were many wine barrels in the curing room in the basement.
▲I could feel wine with my whole body from the scent of mellow wine, unique humidity, natural molds, etc.
▲Those are old vintage wines. The white part of the bottles are not dust, they are molds. They store approximately 2,000 bottles from 1969 for research and sampling.
▲The sparkling wine production line. They produce sparkling wine by using production methods of champagne first in Japan.
You can take pictures anywhere in Wine Castle.
▲This is Hokkaido Likers’ recommended photo spot. Find it in the Wine Castle!
▲They offer various Tokachi Wines at the shop.
▲You can take a look at the newly rebuilt brandy curing room through the window. Ikeda-Cho is the only place where brews brandy in Hokkaido. They plan to display barrels here.
You can get in-depth knowledge about why wine brewing started in Ikeda-Cho, wines using the characteristics of grapes grow in extremely cold weather, etc.
This makes me want to talk to someone! And want to drink some wines!
You can see the Wine Castle in the current figure until October 2019The Wine Castle’s building was completed in 1974, and it will celebrate 45th anniversary in 2019.
To tell the truth, you can see the Wine Castle in the current figure until October 2019. They are planning to rebuild entirely after the Wine Festival in 2019, and it will close for about six months.
They plan to re-open in the spring of 2020.
It might be nice to visit the Wine Castle with 45 years of history by October 2019 and revisit the place in spring 2020 to see the newly born Wine Castle!
Wine Castle (Ikeda-Cho Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology
- 83 Kiyomi, Ikeda-cho, Nakagawa-gun, Hokkaido
- Phone/ 015-572-2467
- Hours/ 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
- Holidays/ New year holidays
- Fee/ Free
- Parking/ Free (100 cars)
You can find the very rare treasure for railway fans at Ikeda-Cho Local Museum!You will be able to learn more deeply about the history, culture, and attraction of the town when you visit local museums during the trip.
“Ikeda-Cho Local Museum” exhibits not only the history of Ikeda-Cho but also buried cultural property from Jomon Era to Satsumon Era, farming equipment and lifestyle culture resources from the development era of Hokkaido to Showa era.
▲“Ikeda-Cho Local Museum” opened in May 2017, using the building of former Takashima Middle School which closed down in 2012.
▲The entrance of the museum. It looks like school as it uses the old school building which makes everyone feel nostalgic.
▲Kenichi Miyake from Ikeda Board of Education showed us around the museum. He is a graduate from former Takashima Middle School.
▲They exhibit the history of Ikeda-Cho from the prehistoric period to the development era of Hokkaido and current at the guidance museum room.
The exhibition rooms which use old classroom exhibits approximately 4,300 pieces of resources, rooms separated by categories such as farming, forestry, buried cultural materials, wartime materials, lifestyle, education, etc.
▲Exhibitions include old farming equipment,
▲Many exhibitions were donated from the townspeople such as things related to lifestyles.
▲Miyake is operating a hand crank record player.
▲Those are Geta sandals with spikes. Wow, these are really Hokkaido-like shoes!
▲You can touch and move some of the exhibitions and photo shooting spots for fun. Why don’t you try those?
And Hokkaido Likers found the extremely rare exhibitions at Ikeda-Cho Local Musem that railway fans would scream!
▲It looks like the security is not enough… I asked him about it: “We have cameras running.”
The Chihoku Line which ran from Ikeda to Kitami when Japanese National Railways operated it. It changed the name to “Furusato Ginga Line” after the privatization but ended operation in 2006.
The materials about this rail line were here!
“Ikeda-Cho was the railway town because there was an engine depot,” Ikeda says.
There are many genres of railway fans: some like to ride trains and others like to take pictures. Among them, those who like histories terminated railways, and abandoned stations must consider this museum as a treasure box.
The museum is usually closed from November to April, but they will open the museum upon requests if you contact them in advance.
Ikeda-Cho Local Museum
- 81 Takashima, Ikeda-cho, Nakagawa-gun, Hokkaido (Former Takashima Middle School)
- Phone/ 015-578-7388
- Hours/ 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
- Holidays/ Fridays, Saturdays, and National Holidays
- Fee/ Free
- Opening periods/ 1 May to 31 October
* The museum is closed from November to April
* The museum opens upon request during the closing periods
Winter grape fields, snowfields from the observation deck, and cranes, swans, foxesWhen you drive in Ikeda-Cho, you can notice the vast farms on both sides of the roads. That scenery is really Tokachi-like!
There are town-owned grape fields in between Tokachigawa Onsen and Ikeda-Cho and the view from here is beautiful. You will be able to feel the majesty of Hokkaido when you see the magnificent landscape until far away.
▲The scenery from the town-owned grape fields. You can also see the giant Tokachi River.
The green potato and beat farms become white snowfields in winter. You will be able to feel that you came to Tokachi when you see such sceneries.
The taxi driver told me that there is an observation deck where you can get the whole view of Ikeda-Cho.
I must visit there!
The car headed to Tokachi Makiba No Ie Observation deck.
▲Ikeda-Cho, seen from Tokachi Makiba No Ie Observation deck.
▲The driver told me that we could also see far Hidaka Mountain Range when it’s sunnier.
The view is fantastic as there are no high-stories buildings.
Because there is nothing, it creates Tokachi-like scenery, and I felt like I could stay hours by just watching this magnificent landscape.
My brain played the song “Oozora To Daichi No Nakade” by Chiharu Matsuyama. Wait, should I play a song from Dreams Come True because I was in Ikeda-Cho? (The vocal of the group Miwa Yoshida is from Ikeda-Cho)
You can sometimes encounter wild animals when you drive a car in the town.
▲I found a fox. It stopped for a while when the cameraman pointed a camera at it.
▲I also found swans on the farm! It is difficult to see in snowfields as it is white, but there are actually plenty of swans.
▲I also found red-crowned cranes! The moment they flew was so beautiful!
* Feeding, frightening, harming wild animals are strictly prohibited.
You may be able to take a picture like National Geographic when the timing is right!
Those pictures were taken by making the taxi stop. When you stop the car, follow instructions of the driver and make sure it’s safe.
In the end, I bought “Banana Manju,” the long-seller confection with over 100 years of history at “Yonekura” in front of JR Ikeda Station.
It is convenient to head to Obihiro Station with JR trains and use the airport bus or head to the airport with the taxi directly.
Why don’t you visit Ikeda-Cho, the wine town where you can enjoy Tokachi-like landscapes to charge Hokkaido powers?
Related Links- Ikeda-Cho official website
- Ikeda Town Tourist Association
- Ikeda-Cho Research Institute for Viticulture and Enology (Wine Castle)
- Ikeda-Cho Local Museum
- Wine Taxi
- Tokachigawa Onsen Kanko Kyokai
Hokkaido Likers writer Takako Chiba
Photo: Tomoya Suwa
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