Ishikari typifies those Japanese towns whose history and culture have been fostered by salmon fishery. In the early Meiji era, millions of salmon were caught in the Ishikari River. Canned salmon and a dish that inspired Ishikari hotchpotch, a local specialty, debuted around this time. It wasn't just Ishikari that thrived on salmon fishery. There are records of a salmon hatchery being built in Sapporo at the site where Seikatei now stands. The hatchery was used for artificial incubation. Another incubation project was started on the Chitose River in Chitose. In the late Showa era, because of declines in salmon populations,various efforts, including fry release, were made in some areas to bring salmon back to rivers. For those campaigns, museums were opened in Sapporo and Chitose. They have also functioned as facilities for education about salmon. Salmon continue to be cherished as the basis of an industry that's important to Ishikari and greater Sapporo.
Right photo: Ishikari Benten Shrine, the oldest building in town, with 300 years of history. It was built in the hope of bountiful catches of salmon. Left photo: Ishikari hotchpotch served at Kindaitei, a restaurant specializing in salmon and trout. The restaurant opened in 1880. In the old days, dainabe, the dish that inspired Ishikari hotchpotch, was served almost every day at the feast that ended the day's fishing.
Ishikari Benten Shrine stands on Benten Rekishi Street. Samesama, the god of salmon fishing, has been enshrined here. Samesama has been venerated since the shrine's establishment in 1694. It is said that in the Meiji era, the heyday of salmon fishing, more than 2,000 migrant workers would come to town for the fishing season and the town bustled with more than ten restaurants. Ishikari hotchpotch was born. Chopped bone-in salmon and chopped cabbage are put into a broth of white miso, and sansho (Japanese pepper) is sprinkled on top. This is the standard recipe, but you can enjoy various interpretations of the dish at restaurants in town. The Ishikari Salmon Festival started in 1956. Despite stoppages due to poor catches, the festival has taken root among the townspeople. The 50th festival will be held in 2013.
The Ishikari Salmon Festival will be held on Sep. 28 (Sat.) and 29 (Sun). It includes exciting salmon tickling. Ishikari hotchpotch and fresh salmon caught at the Maehama district of Ishikari will be sold.
In the early Meiji era, with the aim of promoting industries in Hokkaido, the Hokkaido Development Office operated many businesses, including Sapporo Brewery. As one of those businesses, Kaitaku-shi Ishikari Cannery was established in 1877, when Ishikari was prospering from large catches of salmon. Canned products are said to have been exported overseas and received favorably. The cannery was closed after more than 40 years in operation. The development of salmon products, however, is still active. Sato Suisan Co., Ltd. has plants in Sapporo and produces processed goods, including "salmon sauce" which is made from fish innards. The Salmon Factory stands close to the plants, and lots of processed goods are sold there. The local delicacy Ishikari Salmon Sauce noodles uses its salmon sauce and is very popular at ramen shops in town.
Try your hand at making cans using a manually operated machine at the Ishikari Sakyu-no-kaze (dune breeze) Museum.
Salmon catches declined from the early 20th century to the 1960's or 1970's. Thanks to environmental protection measures taken in the late 1970's and 1980's, salmon have once again begun to return to the Ishikari River. To bring salmon back to the Toyohira River, the "Come Back, Salmon!" Campaign was promoted in Sapporo, and fry began to be released in the Toyohira River again in 1978. The Sapporo Salmon Museum opened in 1984. It conducts fry releases, and salmonids and other freshwater fish from the Toyohira River are kept here and displayed. An Indian waterwheel is set up in the Chitose River to catch salmon. Beside it stands the Chitose Salmon Aquarium, where you can enjoy watching fish underwater from the observation room and learning about salmon.
The Indian waterwheel is an autumn sight in Chitose. Festivals are held.
A juvenile salmon release activity is held by the Sapporo Salmon Museum.
Sources: Sapporo Bunko and Chronicle of Ishikari.
Exhibits focus on the nature and history of Ishikari, for example, the Ishikari River, salmon fishery in the Jomon era and the history of a cannery run by the Hokkaido Development Office. Standing next to the museum is the Old Kakuni Nagano Store. This was a major merchant in Ishikari. The building was designated by the city as a cultural property.
Salmon innards are taken in great quantity during processing. The plant was established with the purpose of putting them to best use. Under the supervision of Mr. Takeo Koizumi, who studies fermentation, mellow "salmon sauce" and other products are being developed. (Upper photo: Plant tours are available by advanced reservation.) (Lower photo: Available at the Salmon Factory, a nearby direct-sales shop run by Sato Suisan Co., Ltd.)
Located inside the Salmon Park Chitose roadside rest area. Observe large and small aquariums and watch a film on salmon. From the observation room, which distinguishes this facility, you can directly observe life under the water. (Upper photo: The museum's proximity to New Chitose Airport allows easy access.) (Lower photo: Room for underwater observation)
Salmon roe and schools of fry can be observed in winter and spring. Fry release activities can be experienced in spring. In autumn, watch salmon that have returned to the Toyohira River to spawn. Watch them lay eggs. (Upper photo: Dioramas use stuffed salmon to show the act of laying eggs, and a bed for laying is exhibited.)
Enjoy ramen noodles that brim with the savoriness of salmon, creative takeout dishes, and box lunches from the roadside rest area. Don't miss the fresh salmon in season.
The local delicacy of ramen served in a "salmon sauce" broth is popular. The sauce is made from salmon innards. The noodles, made at their own plant, go great with the soup.
Eat here! Miyabi Ishikari Main Shop
The Japanese soup goes great with the thin, straight noodles. It’s topped with ground salmon, instead of with char siu (roast pork).
There's a full lineup of elaborate salmon dishes. The variety of the takeout menu is sure to satisfy you. The items are recommended for drives.
Eat here! Kanei Nakamura
At the roadside rest area. Enjoy unique salmon dishes, such as salmon-filled buns (300 yen) and Hokkaido salmon pizza (500 yen).
Eat here! Restaurant Salmon (at the Salmon Park roadside rest area)
Vinegared rice covered with salmon flakes from Hokkaido and with salmon roe to enhance the flavor and presentation.
This genuine neighborhood market offers good values on fresh marine and agricultural products of Ishikari. The restaurant next to the market offers local dishes using ingredients from the market.
For sale here
Nowhere but in Ishikari can you get salmon this fresh. Delivery can be made absolutely anywhere nationwide.