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Archive for July 2017

Ashibetsu – part 1

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Ashibetsu is a small city in the central part of Hokkaido, Japan. In the past, there were a large number of coal mines in this part of Hokkaido, and Ashibetsu and nearby cities and towns were prosperous coal mining centers. At its peak in the late 1950s, over 75,000 people lived in Ashibetsu.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, the coal mines closed one after another, and people left to find work in other places. By 1990 the population was down to 25,000. When I lived there in 2006-2008 it was around 18,000 and continuing to drop.

Today, most of the people live in two main areas – central Ashibetsu and Kami-Ashibetsu. These parts have not suffered as much from the population loss as other areas, and they still look pretty nice. The people of Ashibetsu take a lot of pride in their community, and you can see a lot of flowers and well-maintained gardens along the city streets. I think it’s a great place to live.

Here are a few photos.

(I plan to cover other parts of Ashibetsu, such as Nishi-Ashibetsu and Canadian World Park, in later blog posts.)


Ashibetsu ski-jo. A small ski resort, right at the edge of the city. It’s very convenient and easy to get to, and is very popular with the local people. Although it may be a little too easy for experienced skiiers, it is perfect for beginners and for families with children. And there is a great view of the city from the top.



A typical Ashibetsu city street in winter.



And here is a city street in the spring. At the end of the street you can see the city’s big Buddha statue.



City street with spring flowers.



There are many small parks and playgrounds like this one scattered around the city.



Guardians of…..what? The two small statues on the left were guarding the entrance to something, but whatever it was is gone now.



This is the park next to Ashibetsu City Hall. One summer the crows became very agressive and started attacking people. Things became so bad that they had to close the park for a few weeks.



The main shrine in Ashibetsu.



Ashibetsu has a lot of city parks.



Ashibetsu calls itself “Hoshi no furusato” (“starry hometown” or “land of falling stars”), and the manhole covers all have a star/constellation theme.



Bicycle parking next to Ashibetsu Station.



Small mountain reflected in a rice field.



“Kita no Dai Kannon” (big Kannon Buddha statue), and “Kita no Miyako” (shrine, public bath, and restaurant complex). They were built in the 1990s in the hope of attracting tourists.



Kita no Dai Kannon. On the ground on the left and right are full-size copies of her hands. The inside of the statue is open to the public. The recommended tour is to take the elevator up to the observation deck in her chest, enjoy the view of the city, and then walk down through four or five floors of Buddhist statues, altars, and artwork, while you contemplate the meaning of life and the nature of existence.



A train stopped at Kami-Ashibetsu Station.



O-Bon dance. When I was there, Ashibetsu had a really nice O-Bon celebration in August every year. They had carnival games, booths selling food and drinks, a raffle with some very nice prizes, a children’s O-Bon dance and costume contest, and an O-Bon dance for adults. I don’t know if they still do this or not.


That’s all for now. There will be more photos in Ashibetsu-part 2.

Written by hobara09

2017-07-25 at 2:35 pm

Posted in Ashibetsu, Hokkaido