The village of Akaigawa 赤井川村
The red river
This village is part of the list of the most beautiful villages in Japan thanks to its unique location, in the heart of an extinct volcano. The inhabitants cover it with flowers in summer, to replace the winter snows.
In the heart of the volcano
Akaigawa is located west of Hokkaido, about sixty kilometers from the region's capital, Sapporo. Very extensive despite its 1,200 inhabitants, Akaigawa is spread over 280 km 2 for 80% of mountainous area and forests .
Akaigawa means the red river in the Ainu language, a name linked to this exceptional location of the village located in the crater of an ancient volcano , now extinct. All this forms a caldera, which is itself included in another caldera of even more imposing size, that of Mount Yoichi, which dominates the entire environment.
To read: The Ainu minority
Winters are harsh and long in Hokkaido, and even more in the heart of these mountains, the snows remaining in mass until May. So it goes without saying that the first heat of summer is eagerly awaited by the inhabitants, who as soon as possible hasten to flower every available space. Summer in Akaigawa is therefore joyful and colorful, with flowers springing up everywhere. Horticulture and agriculture are the economic lungs of this village .
Welcome to the farm
The large expanses of the caldera are suitable for livestock and crops, thanks to the volcanic soil.
The Yamanaka Farm opens its doors to you, with the sale of dairy products, which you can taste on the spot, fresh milk with such a particular flavor, or ice cream.
La Ferme Tonden invites you to come with your family to meet their animals , rabbits, alpacas, horses and other pigs. The kids love it so much they want to take it home. Attention, it will not fit in the suitcase! To bring back a little souvenir, it will be easier to buy charcuterie as it is offered vacuum-packed. If you have a 'big' peck, the Tonden Farm has everything planned because they have opened a restaurant in which you can taste their products as well as all those of the region.
Activities throughout the seasons
We must not believe that, because it is winter and there are meters of snow , everyone remains cloistered, asleep at home. No, on the contrary, there is in Akaigawa the great winter entertainment of the Kiroro Resort , a large ski area , with certainly quality snow for months, accessible to beginners and experienced skiers alike. For those who don't ski, you have other rather unusual choices to try: snowmobile, segway or snow rafting, snowshoeing, play areas for children.
When green grass replaces white snow, summer arrives with its outdoor activities , tennis, golf, mountain biking, rafting, canoeing, fishing... the choice is great.
The hiking trails leading to Mount Yoichi invite you to long walks, passing by Mount Asari on which you will climb by means of a panoramic cable car .
At the highest degree of flavor
For dry throats and sharp taste buds, there's a brew here that the world envies, it 's Nikka whiskey . Located 13 kilometers from Akaigawa, in the neighboring town of Yoichi, the Nikka distillery concocts one of the best whiskeys there is, recognized worldwide and appreciated beyond these mountains .
On site, the visit of the installations is free , and guided tours are offered by reservation to know all the little manufacturing secrets. The final tasting will leave you with the best taste ever!
To read: Japanese whiskey
Address, timetable & access
TimetableFrom JR Yoichi Station, 20 mins by bus. From Otaru, 45 mins by bus. From Sapporo, 90 mins by bus.