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July 2, 2017 - Yoichi - Hokkaido
After staying at Sapporo last night, I decided to take a side trip to Yoichi on my way to Otaru. This town located around 20 kms from Otaru used to be big in the fishing industry before the locals stocks collapsed early in the 20th century due to overfishing. The locations visited today include:
(1) Nikka Whisky Distillery
(2) Universe Memorial Hall
(3) Old Shimoyoichi Unjoya
(4) Yoichi Fisheries Museum
(5) Old Fukuhara Gyojo
My first stop for the day was the Nikka Whisky Distillery, which gives tours every thirty minutes in Japanese. There is also a self guided tour where you can download an app which gives you a lot of information. Non-drivers also get the chance to try some of what is made here.
Since I had a lot of difficulties getting into the carpark and there was a lot of families that perplexed me, I was happy to see that there was a matsuri occurring on the grounds of the whisky distillery. Like most matsuris, there is always some drumming performances along with the normal local street food.
Apart from showing how whisky is made, it also includes a lot on the history of the company and the man who introduced whisky to Hokkaido. There is plenty of English information here for those who are interested.
As I found out later, the Universe Memorial Hall is located within a short walk of the whisky distillery. It celebrates the first Japanese man to go into space who was also born in Yoichi. It costs 500 yen to enter and the exhibits are ok. Note that apart from an english pamphlet and basic translations, there is not a lot of english here.
Even though 500 yen sounds expensive for what this museum it, it also includes a 3D movie (which I missed) and another movie as well. Both are in Japanese and the one I watched inside a dome was quite interesting and I could follow most of it with my limited Japanese and knowledge of the science itself (I'm a science teacher).
The Old Shimoyoichi Unjoya is an old Herring Mansion which includes impressive traditional displays of how the locals used to live. It costs 300 yen to enter, but it was free today due to the matsuri. There was no english translation but a pamphlet may be available at the entrance.
Located on top of a hill near the Old Shimoyoichi Unjoya, the Yoichi Fisheries Museum tells the story of how locals used to live here and why herring was caught. Something that I found interesting was that the fish were not caught to eat, but to make fish oil which was worth a lot of money at the time. It costs 300 yen to enter, but was free this day due to the local matsuri.
Located directly opposite a small port, the Old Fukuhara Gyojo shows how the local herring was caught and processed along with how they lived. It costs 300 yen to enter but again it was free today due to the matsuri.
It's pretty fair to say that this location is quite impressive with how much there is to see here. I would almost compare it to a small open air museum, as there are numerous buildings (which are traditional) which can be entered.
Later in the afternoon I also visited Otaru which was also famous for it's herring fisheries. However, this town is much more laid back and does not have the large tour buses in abundance like Otaru. As such - my next post will be Otaru which is where I am staying tonight.
Nikka Distillery: http://www.nikka.com/eng/distilleries/yoichi/ (english)
Yoichi Tourist Information: http://www.uu-hokkaido.com/corporate/yoichi.shtml (english translate option)