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Release | Takako Chiba

A resort restaurant “EKARA” appeared in the middle of farms in Hokkaido’s Mikasa City Kayano

北海道三笠市萱野の畑の真ん中に誕生した滞在型レストラン「EKARA」


A restaurant and two accommodation facilities opened in the middle of farms in Mikasa City Kayano on April 25, 2019. The name of the place is “EKARA.” I will introduce the place where they aim people to feel the attraction of a farm village in the suburb.

 

Table of Contents

- What is the resort restaurant “EKARA” in Mikasa City Kayano?
- Where is Mikasa City in Hokkaido located? 
- It started from “Mikasa Kayano Project”
- “EKARA” - the accommodation facilities are very comfortable
- “EKARA” - they let you enjoy “fire” at the restaurant
- Taste local specialties at the restaurant in the middle of farms


 

What is the resort restaurant “EKARA” in Mikasa City Kayano?

Three buildings appeared in the middle of farms in Mikasa City Kayano: one restaurant and two accommodation facilities. They call the three buildings altogether, “EKARA.”


三笠市萱野の「EKARA」▲Mikasa City Kayano’s “EKARA.” There is an apple farm in front and the restaurant at the far back. The place looked a little deserted when we visited (April 17th), it will be all green after spring. 


The facility intends visitors to enjoy sightseeing and nature in Mikasa area, have delicious cuisines using local specialties, and feel the attractions of farm village in the suburbs. 


三笠市萱野の「EKARA」の看板


“EKARA” means “make something with something” or “do something with something” in the Ainu language. 

They don’t actually pronounce the sound of “A” in the Ainu language, but the owner wanted three syllables, and the name became “EKARA.”

The owner is Hidetoshi Suzuki, the president of Mikasa Suzuki Farm, located across the road from EKARA. 


(株)三笠すずき農園代表取締役の鈴木英利さん▲Hidetoshi Suzuki, the president of Mikasa Suzuki Farm. 

 

Where is Mikasa City in Hokkaido located? 

Mikasa City in the Sorachi area in Hokkaido and it’s in between Sapporo and Asahikawa and slightly closer to Sapporo than Asahikawa. 

It takes approximately 30 mins to drive from Sapporo to Mikasa IC via Hokkaido expressway (1,270 yen for oneway) and approximately 60 mins drive from Asahikawa Takasu to Mikasa IC (2,380 yen for oneway).

Mikasa City has a history as the place of origin for Hokkaido’s coals and railways. They are also famous for lots of unearthed fossils such as Taniwhasaurus (designated as a natural treasure of Japan) and ammonites.


三笠市立博物館のアンモナイト▲The ammonite fossil in Mikasa City Museum


As there are many rare and precious layers in the Mikasa area, Japan Geopark designated the area as “Mikasa Geopark.”


三笠市立博物館裏手、野外博物館エリアで見られる地層▲You can see layers casually at the back of Mikasa City Museum. This is very rare because it’s vertical although layers are usually horizontal. 


Also, Mikasa City Ikushunbetsu is the origin place of the standard Bon dance in Hokkaido called “Hokkai Bon Uta.” They hold “Mikasa Hokkai Bon Odori” festival for three days during the Obon holidays every year and approximately 20,000 people gather for the festival from and outside of Hokkaido.


北海道遺産に認定されている三笠北海盆おどり▲Mikasa Hokkai Bon Odori is designated as a Hokkaido Heritage. 
* The picture is provided by Mikasa Board of Education


Hokkaido Likers has written about the only gastrology specialized public high school in Hokkaido, Hokkaido Mikasa High School’s restaurant, and the long-loved confection from the Showa Period “Coconut Roll” from Choeido Inaba Kashiho” in Mikasa City. 

 

It started from “Mikasa Kayano Project”

Why did Mr. Suzuki, a farmer, decided to open a resort restaurant?

It all started from the conversation during drinking with his friends. They all agreed that Mikasa can do more interesting things. 

In 2017, Mr. Suzuki, a farmer, a civil servant, a photographer, an illustrator, a radio personality, people from food industry, and people from the outdoor industry gathered and together established “Mikasa Kayano Project” to drive farming and eating in Mikasa region.


三笠市萱野すずき農園のリンゴ畑▲Suzuki Farm’s apple farm. Many trees become unuseful because of snow damages, etc., but they keep working hard to add new trees every year to nurture them. 
* A provided photo


There used to be apple farms in the Kayano area, but it has turned into rice farms now. So they planted apple trees in Suzuki Farm, making is the symbol of “Mikasa Kayano Project.” 


三笠市萱野すずき農園のリンゴ畑の草刈り▲Mowing the apple farm
* A provided picture


And they hosted many experiential events such as one-day limited restaurant built with tents in the middle of farms, rice-planting and mowing experience, miso making workshop and tofu making workshop, etc., to get people to learn and feel farming and foods in the Mikasa area. 


畑の真ん中にテントを張ったレストラン▲A one-day limited restaurant built with tend in the middle of farms. This relates to “EKARA” now. 
* A provided picture


As they do such activities, they came up with an idea to build the facility “EKARA” to let people have delicious foods in the middle of farms and feel and enjoy the attractions of Mikasa. 

 

“EKARA” - the accommodation facilities are very comfortable

Hokkaido Likers visited “EKARA” for a private showing before opening. It was the time when they are just starting the season as there was still snow on the top of mountains and snows on the farms just melted away. 


三笠市萱野の田園風景4月


“EKARA” also seemed very busy towards the opening day on April 25th, as they were not finished with landscaping work. However, members such as Mr. Suzuki told me about “EKARA” passionately.
 
There are two accommodation facilities. They accept up to four people in one building. There are two bedrooms with two beds, a bathroom, a bathtub made with Hinoki trees, a shower room (with a rain shower), and a toilet. 


三笠市萱野のEKARA宿泊棟内観▲The interior view of the accommodation facility. 


三笠市萱野のEKARA宿泊棟外観▲The exterior view of the accommodation facility. 


They got the idea of the design from a barn of farmers. 

According to Mr. Suzuki, they were first planning to build accommodation facilities connected to the restaurant. 

However, it won’t be farmers in suburbs if visitors can hear sounds from other buildings and feel very close to each other although the vast property. Therefore, they built each building separately. 


三笠市萱野のEKARA宿泊棟のヒノキのお風呂▲The bathtub is made of Hinoki trees. 


As I entered the room with a soft woody texture, I felt really relaxed. 

It’s not urban and stylish. But not sweet like French country style. It’s not advanced nor intelligent. 

It’s simple, farm, and gentle atmosphere which makes people relax. 
To tell you straightforward, it was really comfortable! 


三笠市萱野のEKARA宿泊棟の洗面所▲The bathroom 


They have apple farms in the property, and the building is surrounded by rice farms. So it seems like you can enjoy different landscaped depending on the seasons; green grass of rice field, golden rice field, etc. 

As there is nothing around, they said we could enjoy the beautiful sky with shining stars. 

 

“EKARA” - they let you enjoy “fire” at the restaurant

When you see the restaurant building from the road, you might notice that the building has no window. And there is a dark entrance. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストラン棟出入口▲Is this really the entrance of the restaurant? 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストラン棟エントランスアプローチ▲There is no window, and the entrance is a bit dark. 


However, there was a reason for this darkness. 

When I opened the door of the restaurant, something might come right into my eyes. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストラン棟のピザ窯


It was “fire” from the pizza oven. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストラン棟内観▲Inside the restaurant, seen from the entrance door. The pizza oven is in the front. 


“As the concept is a farm in the suburbs, we wanted to use the real fire somewhere. The fire was necessary for human from the beginning of our history. And people gather around fires. We built the pizza oven in front of the door so that fire would be the first thing visitors see after walking the dark hallway.” Mr. Suzuki told me. 


火を使った空間演出について語る鈴木さん▲Mr. Suzuki telling me about the spatial presentation using fire. 


This presentation was really moving! 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストラン棟店内の様子▲There is no window on the roadside but there are big windows on the opposite, and the restaurant is bright with natural lights. 


Yutaka Miyajima, the architect in Sapporo, designed “EKARA” and Takebe Kensetsu Co., Ltd., who has their office near “EKARA” built it. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストラン棟の柱と梁▲They used old woods for pillars and beams. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストラン棟カウンター▲The hand-made counter by a carpenter. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストラン棟の床▲There was a tiny decoration on the floor! 


Architecture lovers should visit this place because specialists planned for each professional domains: each building had a master builder, door by a joiner, counter by a carpenter, walls, and floors by plasterer, tiles by tile artists. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストラン棟受付カウンター▲The counter is also the reception for accommodation facilities. 


Accommodation facilities were very comfortable, but the restaurant was, too, relaxing. It would make me stay for hours. 

 

Taste local specialties at the restaurant in the middle of farms

As the owner is a farmer, they are really proud of the ingredients they use for the dishes. 

They offer vegetables from Suzuki Farms, other local specialties, Sapporo Classic Beer, wines, and ciders. 


EKARAのシェフ、金子智哉さん▲Tomoya Kaneko, the chef of EKARA. 


The chef is Tomoya Kaneko, who has worked for a restaurant in Sapporo long time. He decided to move to Mikasa City because he wanted to help EKARA. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストランのサラダ▲They are planning to add more and more local vegetables. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストランでピザを焼く▲You can enjoy freshly delivered pizza directly from the pizza oven. 


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストランのピザ


三笠市萱野のEKARAレストランの肉料理


The restaurant is open during the following period:
- Summer (Closed every Tuesdays) Lunch 11:00 AM - 3:30 PM (Last call is 2:30 PM), Dinner 6:00 PM - 8:30 PM (Last call is 7:30 PM)
- Winter (Closed every Mondays and Tuesdays) Lunch 11:30 AM - 3:00 PM (Last call is 2:00 PM), Dinner 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM (Last call is 7:00 PM)
* They open dinner only under reservations

They can’t harvest apples yet, but Mr. Suzuki has a goal to produce cider with apples grows in the apple farm in front of EKARA. 

“We may not be able to provide great services, but we want visitors to experience something new and enjoy farms in Mikasa together. And more than anything, please enjoy eating as we are a restaurant in the middle of farms.” Mr. Suzuki told. 

Drive approximately 30 mins from Sapporo to enjoy nature and tourist destinations in Mikasa, have local specialties at the restaurant in the middle of farms, or stay a night at the accommodation facilities to enjoy the atmosphere of farm village fully. 

Another way to enjoy Mikasa is added on the list. 

 

Related Links

- EKARA
- EKARA - a restaurant in the middle of farms Facebook
- MIKASA Kayano Project
  • A resort restaurant “EKARA” appeared in the middle of farms in Hokkaido’s Mikasa City Kayano

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Takako Chiba

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