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Asahikawa, Hokkaido: 10 Wonderful Places to Explore

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Asahikawa is one of the largest cities in Hokkaido. Surrounded by the Daisetsuzan mountains, the area is blessed with powder snow in the winter and stunning scenery year-round. Learn about 10 exciting things to enjoy in this nature-filled city.

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Explore Asahikawa in the Heart of Hokkaido

Asahikawa is a large city in Hokkaido, known for its natural and urban appeal. It is popular with travelers for Asahiyama Zoo, Asahikawa ramen, and the local skiing and snowboarding resorts in winter.

Domestic and international airlines at Asahikawa Airport support the city, welcoming upwards of five million visitors annually.

This article introduces 10 must-visit spots in Asahikawa to create great memories for any Hokkaido trip.

10 Fun Things to Do in Asahikawa

1. See Animals Roaming at Asahiyama Zoo
2. Tour Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum
3. Eat Regional Noodles at Asahikawa Ramen Village
4. Frolick in the Flowers at Ueno Farm
5. Souvenir Shopping at Asahikawa Heiwadori Retail Park
6. Mountain Views and Pleasant Strolls at Asahidake
7. Take Workshops at Arashiyama Pottery Village
8. Learn Ainu Culture at the Fall Kotan Festival
9. Skiing and Snowboard Areas in Asahikawa
10. Delicious Ramen and Amazing Hospitality at Aoba Ramen
Asahikawa Winter Festival: Held Annually in February
Hotels in Asahikawa
How to Get to Asahikawa

1. See Animals Roaming at Asahiyama Zoo

asahikawa zoo

As the northernmost zoo in Japan, Asahiyama Zoo stands out as one of the most famous attractions in Asahikawa and is among the most prominent facilities in the country.

The zoo is designed to allow animals to behave naturally within expansive ecological enclosures, significantly reducing their stress levels. Visitors also have the unique opportunity to observe the animals up close.

Of all the animals, the endearing polar bear steals the show, captivating visitors as it gracefully dives into a spacious pool or when observed through the "seal's eye," providing a perspective similar to that of a seal.

2. Tour Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum

otokoyama sake brewery museum

Visitors can enjoy Otokoyama drawn in the ukiyo-e, and ancient documents about sake brewing on the second floor. Picture courtesy of Otokoyama Co., Ltd.

Taisetsuzan is one of the hundred most celebrated mountains in Japan. The underground water from this mountain is used to brew the renowned beverage Otokoyama, and the challenging, freezing climate of Asahikawa provides the ideal conditions for Japanese sake brewing. Otokoyama boasts a clear, dry taste, and is light on the palate.

At the Otokoyama Sake Brewery Museum, visitors can explore exhibits showcasing the history of Otokoyama and Japanese sake brewing culture. Rare documents from the Edo Period (1603 - 1868) and sake drinking sets are among the showcased items.

On the third floor, various tools for sake brewing, including a large barrel, are on display. Visitors can also watch a multilingual (Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean, and Thai) video introducing the brewing process and the history of Otokoyama.

Furthermore, guests can partake in tastings of Otokoyama on the first floor and explore the museum shop, which offers seasonal sake and a wide array of products available exclusively at the museum.

3. Eat Regional Noodles at Asahikawa Ramen Village

Asahikawa Ramen Village

Picture courtesy of Asahikawa Ramen Village

Ramen holds a vital role in Asahikawa's local cuisine. The broth, crafted from pork bones, chicken stock, and fish, forms the flavorful base, complemented by the addition of shoyu (soy sauce), a hallmark of Asahikawa ramen.

To adapt to the cold climate, lard is infused into the soup, creating a protective layer to keep the dish hot and delicious.

At Asahikawa Ramen Village, eight distinct ramen restaurants each present their own style and diverse menus. They all feature a small size ramen, allowing customers to sample dishes from multiple eateries.

Conveniently located near Asahiyama Zoo and Ueno Farm, visitors can seamlessly transition to sightseeing after indulging in ramen, or opt for another stop on their way back.

4. Frolick in the Flowers at Ueno Farm

ueno farm

Picture courtesy of Ueno Farm

Ueno Farm is an expansive garden flourishing with a diverse array of flowers. With over 2,000 types of plants blooming throughout the year, the landscape undergoes a monthly transformation, ensuring a delightful visit regardless of the season.

This garden boasts a unique spectacle, characterized by darker flower colors and simultaneous blooms of plants with varying flowering seasons—an outcome made possible by the local climate, earning it the moniker of the "Hokkaido Garden."

Visitors can also relish snacks and confectionaries made from Hokkaido products at NAYA café, which has been artfully renovated from an old barn. Additionally, Weekend Marche, a gathering of local farmers selling their fresh products, takes place every weekend from June to September. It presents an opportunity for visitors to engage in conversations with the producers. It's worth noting that the Marche may be subject to cancellation based on the performance of the crops.

5. Souvenir Shopping at Asahikawa Heiwadori Retail Park

Asahikawa Heiwadori Retail Park

Picture courtesy of Asahikawa Heiwadori Shopping District Promotional Association

Asahikawa Heiwadori Retail Park, established in 1972, boasts the distinction of being home to the first pedestrianized road in Japan. Serving as a long-standing city fixture, it offers a diverse range of restaurants and stores catering to everyday needs. Extending for one kilometer, it begins at JR Asahikawa Station.

For those seeking souvenirs, a visit to the Machinaka Koryukan Shop is a must. This store showcases goods adorned with Asahikawa characters, processed items, and handicrafts, providing an entertaining shopping experience.

In addition, Benkei, renowned for its lamb shabu-shabu, stands out as another popular spot. The dish distinguishes itself from mutton barbecue through its well-seasoned, tender lamb offering.

The park attracts numerous visitors as it hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including the Snow Sculpture Contest in February (held in conjunction with the Asahikawa Winter Festival), the Asahikawa Summer Festival in August, and the Asahikawa Food Market in September.

6. Mountain Views and Pleasant Strolls at Asahidake


Asahidake (Mt. Asahi) stands as the highest mountain in Hokkaido, soaring 2,291 meters above sea level. Situated in Higashikawa-cho, adjacent to Asahikawa City, it is among the hundred most celebrated mountains in Japan.

The climbing season typically spans from late June to early October, with the onset usually marked by the third weekend in June. Alpine flowers bloom in late July, adorning the landscape in a vibrant display that often evokes a sense of paradise, earning the mountain the moniker "Garden of the Gods."

Renowned as an early spot for viewing autumn leaves, the foliage spectacle begins from mid to late September, drawing a significant influx of tourists.

Offering an hour-long trekking course, the Asahidake Ski Course welcomes visitors from December to May, boasting the longest ski season in Japan.

With nine lodging facilities in the vicinity, complete with onsen (Japanese hot springs), visitors can cap off their day by indulging in a rejuvenating soak after enjoying the various activities available around Asahidake, making for a truly memorable evening.

** Ideyu-go, a shuttle bus runs between Asahikawa Station/Asahikawa Airport and Asahidake, four time a day. The timetable is available at this page.

Official Site: Asahidake Ropeway
** For information about the ropeway timetable and fare, please check this page.

7. Enjoy Workshops at Arashiyama Pottery Village

arashiyama pottery village

The Arashiyama Pottery Village in Asahikawa is a haven comprising various craft workshops. Here, visitors have the opportunity to delve into diverse disciplines such as pottery, glass blowing, cloth dying, and even matcha making, all under the guidance of passionate, independent artists.

Additionally, there are inviting cafes and galleries to explore, making a visit to this village an ideal way to spend a tranquil afternoon enriched with hands-on experiences and the beauty of Hokkaido crafts. For further details about class reservations, please refer to the official website provided below.

8. Explore Ainu Culture at the Fall Kotan Festival

In September, visitors have the opportunity to take part in the Kotan Matsuri, a vibrant festival in Asahikawa celebrating the culture and history of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido.

The festival features a range of events, including traditional dance performances, as well as the sale of regional foods. Visitors can also admire traditional Ainu clothing on display.

9. Skiing and Snowboarding in Asahikawa


Hokkaido is renowned for offering some of the finest powder snow in Japan, and the winter hills near Asahikawa are no exception. Nearby areas include Kamui Ski Links, Asahidake (mentioned above), and Kurodake, all of which are high-quality locations for skiing and snowboarding. Kamui Ski Links features routes suitable for visitors of all abilities, while Asahidake and Kurodake, situated in Daisetsuzan National Park, are best suited for experienced and advanced riders.

The skiing season in Asahikawa typically commences in late November and continues through early May, providing an extended window for enthusiasts to enjoy the slopes.

10. Delicious Ramen and Amazing Hospitality at Aoba Ramen

Asahikawa In Hokkaido - 9 Wonderful Places To Explore

Picture from Ramen, Sake, and Mutton Barbecue! Asahikawa, the City of Excellent Food
If you're in search of delectable fare, a visit to Aoba Ramen should be at the top of your list! This cozy multi-generational family restaurant has been delighting patrons with mouthwatering ramen for 75 years, using its original recipe.

The special broth boasts a rich blend of meat, seafood, and vegetables, while the noodles are expertly prepared to al-dente perfection. Combined with the family's exceptional hospitality and warmth, Aoba has rightfully earned its status as the most sought-after ramen restaurant in Asahikawa!

Conveniently located just a 7-minute walk from the station and known for its welcoming atmosphere, Aoba Ramen is an absolute must-visit when in Asahikawa.

Asahikawa Winter Festival: The Major Winter Event

asahikawa winter festival

Picture courtesy of Asahikawa City Tourism Division

Asahikawa Winter Festival is held every year in February, with a wide variety of events held over a week.

The main attraction of the festival is the snow sculptures. Visitors can also enjoy the illuminations, projection mappings and fireworks at night. Visitors can warm themselves at Winter MARCHE, where various dishes are gathered from all over North Hokkaido, including the Asahikawa ramen.

The festival theme changes every year, so check the official website in advance. In 2024, the Asahikawa Winter Festival will be held February 7 - 12.

Hotels in Asahikawa: Stay Another Night in Asahidake

Most of the locations mentioned above are relatively close to the urban areas of Asahikawa, so visiting them should be easy. However, there are spots like Asahiyama Zoo and Ueno Farm, which may take some time to enjoy, so visitors should plan their itineraries accordingly.

Asahidake is located at Higashikawa-cho, which borders Asahikawa City, and is away from the urban areas. Those who plan to visit Asahidake should make reservations for a night's stay at the local lodging facilities.

A model plan would be to stay one or two nights to visit the urban areas, and another night for Asahidake. Furano and Biei are both located nearby, so visitors planning to use a rental car should extend their schedule.

In the article linked below, we introduce an excellent hotel in Asahikawa that offers local cultural activities for guests.

How to Get to Asahikawa

Asahikawa is celebrated for its excellent accessibility. Serving as a terminal station for four JR lines and situated near four national highways, it offers convenient transportation options. Recently, the Hokkaido Expressway has been inaugurated, providing direct connections to key destinations like New Chitose Airport and Sapporo. As a result, numerous tourists choose Asahikawa as their central base for exploring Hokkaido.

From Asahikawa Airport to JR Asahikawa Station

Board the airport bus, which takes about thirty to forty minutes. The fare is 620 yen. The local buses bound for Asahidake (fifty-minute ride/1,000 yen) or Asahiyama Zoo (35-minute ride/550 yen) will also stop by JR Asahikawa Station.

It is a thirty-minute ride using a rental car, so visitors should choose appropriate means of transportation for their itineraries.

From JR Sapporo Station to JR Asahikawa Station

The JR Limited Express takes about 85 minutes. The fare is 2,490 yen, and an additional charge of 2,320 yen will be required for a reserved seat. A local train will take about three hours, and the fare is 2,490 yen, with no reserved seats.

The express bus takes about two hours, and the fare is 2,060 yen.

It will take about two hours by using a rental car on the expressway from Sapporo Interchange to Asahikawa-Takasu Interchange, and the toll is 3,320 yen. The car ride will take about three hours on the non-toll roads.

Go from New Chitose Airport to JR Asahikawa Station

The Taisetsu Liner Bus, which connects New Chitose Airport and JR Asahikawa Station, runs four times a day.

The bus departs from both the domestic and international terminals, and the ride takes about two hours and 45 minutes. The one-way fare is 3,500 yen, and the round-trip fare is 6,500 yen. For further information, please take a look at this page (Japanese).

Using Public Transportation with a Rental Car

transportation in asahikawa

We recommend using public transportation inside Asahikawa City. The spots mentioned above can be reached by using buses and trains from either Asahikawa Airport or JR Asahikawa Station, so there will be no need for a rental car.

However, if you plan to visit Furano and Biei, or travel to Sapporo while making stops along the way, it might be better to use a rental car.

Asahikawa - A Convenient Base for Your Hokkaido Explorations

Asahikawa is a modern city filled with natural beauty, and visitors can enjoy the city in both summer and winter. It will serve as an ideal base for those planning to visit the areas between Sapporo and the Furano and Biei areas.

Written by

The MATCHA editorial department. Our articles feature useful travel information for visitors to Japan, from how-to guides to recommended places to visit.

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