Rice cultivation in Hokkaido takes full advantage of the vastness of the land and the abundance of water. These make Hokkaido one of the largest producers of rice in Japan, both in acreage and yield. Our current status owes much to one man: Kyuzo Nakayama, known today as "the father of cold-region rice farming." He challenged the Meiji era's conventional wisdom that rice does not grow in cold places. He made solitary efforts to grow rice in Shimamatsu (Kitahiroshima City). He succeeded in developing the techniques required for cold-region rice cropping, and these were later transmitted to many regions in Hokkaido. Now, the market potential of Hokkaido rice is expanding. Shinshinotsu Village is putting great effort into clean agriculture (eco-friendly farming methods, such as using compost and reducing chemical fertilizers). Tobetsu Town is developing original products made of rice and rice flour.
In the beginning of the Meiji era, the Hokkaido Development Office considered Hokkaido to be inappropriate for rice farming. Instead it encouraged European agriculture, with dairy farming as the core. After leaving the Sendai Clan, Kyuzo Nakayama settled in Shimamatsu, Tsukisamu Village (now Kitahiroshima). He could not abandon his dream of growing rice. He sent for the Akage-shu variety, which was said to be hardy against the cold, from southern Hokkaido, and started trials. Great effort was made. For example, water was boiled in the bathtub and poured all day to maintain the water temperature in the paddy. In 1873, he finally got the rice to bud. About 350 kg of rice per 1,000 m2 was harvested that autumn. His success changed the government policy of solely depending on Western agriculture. He distributed seed rice to migrant farmers for free and taught his rice cultivation technique. In this way, he spread the rice cultivation method of Hokkaido.
The monument next to the ekiteisho (an inn, post office and freight depot), marking the birthplace of cold-region rice cropping
In Shimamatsu (now Kitahiroshima City), along the old national highway to Sapporo, stands the old Shimamatsu Ekiteisho, which is a national historic site. This ekiteisho was established in 1873 with the opening of the Sapporo main road (now National Highway 36). It was staffed with laborers and stocked with horses, and it provided accommodation. It's a historical building that was once managed by Kyuzo Nakayama. It's also said to be where a well-known phrase was uttered: "Boys, be ambitious." The words were addressed to the students who came to see off William Smith Clark when he left to return home. Clark was the first vice-president of Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University). The monument honoring Clark stands close to the ekiteisho.
Designated as a national historic site in 1984; a valuable building, as the ekiteisho structure remains
Many varieties of rice are grown in Hokkaido, including Kirara 397 and Nanatsuboshi. Shinshinotsu, a village with a pastoral landscape, promotes clean agriculture by keeping the soil healthy. The Rice Factory is a facility for rice drying and cleaning. It's used for making the quality of rice consistent. The Tarafuku brand and the Shinshinotsu EM brand, which is grown using natural "effective microorganisms," are produced in Shinshinotsu. Tobetsu is also a town of rice farming. Some farmers are working on the fuyumizu tambo method of inundating the rice field in winter, which eliminates the need for agricultural chemicals and chemical fertilizers by activating the microbes in winter. Sweets made with rice flour, miso, and other local products are being developed as Tobetsu Brandeli-certified specialty products.
Source: Chronicle of Kitahiroshima
Available at the Shinshinotsu Roadside Rest Area
This hot spring includes a roadside rest area. Restaurant Mominoki uses rice produced in Shinshinotsu for most of the items on the menu. (Upper photo: Tomato "soup curry" (840 yen). The great taste of this soup curry is sure to stimulate your appetite. The tomato is from Shinshinotsu.)
Rice produced without any harmful substances by farmers who are particular about eco-friendly methods. The Hoshinoyume and Nanatsuboshi varieties are sold here, as are sweets made from rice flour. (Photo: Before its renovation, the building was a storehouse.)
More than 20 kinds of rice balls made with a mixture of the Yumepirika and Nanatsuboshi varieties produced in Eniwa are sold. Miso with spring onion (150 yen) and cheese with dried bonito (170 yen) are popular. (Upper photo: Ebisu lunch (600 yen). Choose two kinds of rice balls to have with your deep-fried chicken.)
Lots of original processed products using rice are produced. Available at satellite shops (shops that sell local specialties elsewhere than in the local towns, to earn greater appeal). Perfect for souvenirs.
A direct-sales shop on the premises of Tappu-no-yu sells various kinds of Shinshinotsu rice and doburoku spirits made from rice grown by rice farmers in Shinshinotsu Village.
For sale here
A rich, sweet flavor unique to doburoku spirits fills one's mouth.
Otsuka Farm is pursuing people-friendly farming by preparing soil with compost and using less agricultural chemicals. Rice, potato, pumpkin and wheat are produced here.
For sale here
Specially cultivated soybeans, rice and salt are the only ingredients. Unheated and fresh. With the simple flavor that's innate to miso.