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Archive for September 2012

Kitahiyama – North and East

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Setana Map - Kitahiyama locations

Setana-Cho, Hokkaido

Kitahiyama Ward in Setana-Cho, Hokkaido, Japan

Kitahiyama is part of the town of Setana, on the Sea of Japan coast in southwest Hokkaido, Japan. Kitahiyama is about 30-35 kilometers long from north to south, and between 10 and 20 kilometers from west to east. In this post, we will explore the north and east sections, including the village of Niwa, the farming district of Ogurayama, and the Makomanai district.

Village of Niwa

Niwa is a farming village of a couple hundred people, about five kilometers east of central Kitahiyama. It is the home of Hiyama-Kita High School. With 300 students, it is the largest high school in the area. Most of the students are from Setana (including Kitahiyama and Niwa), and the neighboring town of Imakane. Niwa also has a small elementary school (Tamakawa Elementary) which had a total of 18 students during my last visit. There is also a small highway rest area, a small grocery store, a tofu shop, an ice cream shop, and… that’s about it.

The village’s biggest event is the daffodil festival and road race, held in May each year. There are races for all ages, from elementary school children to senior citizens. People come from all over this part of Hokkaido to participate.

Cherry blossoms

Cherry Blossoms at Tamakawa Park in Niwa.


A few of the 100,000 daffodils on the hill in Tamakawa Park.

Daffodil festival and road race

Opening ceremony for the daffodil festival and road race. Children from all the local schools run in this event. They also have races for adults.

Road race start line

Tamakawa Park road race start line. It’s hard to decide what to look at here – the runners, or the scenery in the background!

Road race

The shorter races are just around the track on the school grounds. The longer ones continue for a few kilometers down the road, but they all finish here.

Daffodil festival

Lunchtime and entertainment at the daffodil festival and road race.

Tamakawa Park sign

“Tamakawa Park”

Daffodils and Niwa

Looking out over the village of Niwa from the hill at Tamakawa Park, with daffodils.

Tamakawa Shrine

Tamakawa Park looks nice in the fall too. If you climb the stairs all the way to the top of the hill, you will find this shrine.

Tamakawa Park autumn

Autumn view from the hill in Tamakawa Park.

Rice fields

Autumn rice fields and farmland along the road between central Kitahiyama and Niwa.

Niwa street scene

Niwa village street scene

Downtown Niwa

Downtown Niwa


From Niwa, if you drive 10 or 15 minutes to the north, going up about 200 meters in elevation, you will come to the upland farming district of Ogurayama. There is no village in Ogurayama, only farms and in the middle of them, a tiny elementary school.

Ogurayama sign

Sign at the edge of Niwa: “Ogurayama Elementary School – this way.” In the background is Mt. Kariba.

Fields and mountains

Looking norh from the east edge of Niwa village.

Ogurayama road

In Ogurayama, looking down the road toward Niwa (to the south). In the spring, the snow makes the mountains look a lot higher than they actually are.

Cross country ski picnic

Ogurayama Elementary School PTA cross country ski picnic.

PTA cross-country ski picnic

Ogurayama PTA cross-country ski picnic. Ogurayama gets about twice as much snow as central Kitahiyama and Niwa. In this photo, it’s almost two meters deep.


Going west and downhill from Ogurayama, you come to Makomanai. The Makomanai district is about 10 kilometers north of central Kitahiyama, so if you go from Kitahiyama to Niwa, Niwa to Ogurayama, Ogurayama to Makomanai, and Makomanai to Kitahiyama, you will make a square on the map (sort of).

Autumn scenery

Autumn scenery in Makomanai, looking south toward central Kitahiyama.

Makomanai scenery

Farm scenery in Makomanai.


Mskomanai scenery


In September and October, the air is full of dragonflies like this one.

Makomanai campground

Makomanai campground in November.


Post decoration at Makomanai campground.

Back to the home page: Living and Exploring in Rural Japan

Kitahiyama – South and West (Next on my to-do list.)

Written by hobara09

2012-09-24 at 4:40 pm

Posted in Hokkaido, Setana-Cho