Asahikawa is the location site of Miura Ayako’s most famous novel ‘Freezing Point (Hyoten)”. The city center is straddles the clear rivers and laid out in a grid pattern, with its varied attractions, bustling izakaya, ramen and craft shops.
Asahikawa Station is a good transport hub in the city. Asahikawa Tourism & Local Products Information Center (9am-7pm, from 8.30am Jun-Sep / www.atca.jp) inside the train station east side, has brochures, maps and English-speaking staff. The souvenir shop sells local sake, sweets and crafts. Until 5pm, you can leave your luggage (¥700 per day) and rent bikes (May-Oct / from ¥500 per day).
01 RIVERSIDE PROMENADE
北彩都ガーデン / 24hrs (Garden Center 9am-6pm, to 5pm Nov-Apr / Closed Mon / Wi-Fi) / FREE / www.asahikawa-park.or.jp/kitasaito
Asahikawa’s 12-hectare pleasant riverside garden along Chubetsu-gawa runs from the train station south gate to Asahikawa Science Museum. The Garden Center offers free rental snowshoes, tubes and cross-country skis in winter.
02 PEDESTRIAN STREET
買物公園 / JR Asahikawa Station to 8jo-dori / www.kaimonokouen.com
Japan’s first pedestrian street (developed in 1972) heading north from the train station, Kaimono Koen is lined with shopping malls, restaurants and cafes, as well as a hundred of bronze sculptures. Near the north end of the the street, you will find the Symbol Tower in the center of Tokiwa traffic circle.
03 LOCAL HISTORY
Asahikawa City Museum
旭川市博物館 / 3-7 Kagura / 9am-5pm / Closed 2nd & 4th Mon of month / ¥300 / www.city.asahikawa.hokkaido.jp
This museum has excellent Ainu culture and historical displays, which includes colorful accessories, hunting tools and traditional cloths. The basement floor is the natural history display. It is a great place to visit before explore Asahikawa.
04 SCENIC LANDSCAPE
Foreign Tree Specimen Forest
外国樹種見本林 / Gaikoku Jushu Mihonrin / 7-8 Kagura/ 24hrs
Asahikawa’s lovely forest besides Biei-gawa, with more than 50 species of trees from Europe and North America, makes good for a relaxing wander.
05 LOCAL HISTORY
Miura Ayako Literature Museum
三浦綾子記念館 / 7-8 Kagura / 9am-5pm / Closed Mon Oct-May / ¥700
has displays on the work and life of Miura Ayako (1922-1999), whose novels Freezing Point and Shiokari Pass have been translated into English.
上川神社 / Kaguraoka-koen / 24hrs / FREE / www.kamikawajinja.com
Located on the west side of Kaguraoka Park, this hilltop shrine was built in 1924 and it has a stone monument of the planned site of the imperial villa (上川離宮予定地). The shrine is 1km north of JR Kaguraoka Station. From Asahikawa Station stop 27 (beside the hotel Route Inn Grand), take bus 82 or 84 and get off at the Kamikawa Jinja (10min).
07 SCENIC PARK
神楽岡公園 / Kaguraoka Koen / 24hrs / FREE
Laid out in 1889 in an attempted to emulate the grand planning ideas of Kamikawa Rikyu (上川離宮) imperial villa, Kaguraoka (literary means ‘Hill of the Dancing God’) Park is a leafy place for picnic and camping (Jul-Aug) sits beside Chubetsu-gawa.
08 SCIENCE CENTER
Asahikawa Science Museum Sci-Pal
旭川市科学館サイパル / 1-3 Miyamae; 9.30am-5pm / Closed Mon & last weekday of month / Exhibition adult ¥400, child FREE (Exhibition & Planetarium: adult ¥500 / child FREE) / www.city.asahikawa.hokkaido.jp/science
This modern family-friendly science museum has interactive exhibits, including planets, ice and snow. There is also a planetarium.
09 SAKE BREWERY
Takasago Sake Brewery
高砂酒造 / 17 Miyashita-dori / 9am-5.30pm / FREE / www.takasagoshuzo.com
This century-old classical brewery makes sake and they offer tastings amid sakagura (Japanese storehouse) from 1909. Guided brewery tours are available (10am and 3pm), you need to make reservation on the website by three days before. Note: don’t tasting sake here if you are cycling.
10 HISTORIC BUILDINGS & GALLERIES
蔵囲夢 · 大雪地ビール館 / 11 Miyashita-dori / 10am-6pm May-Oct, 11am-5pm Nov-Mar / Closed Mon / FREE
Constructed from 1900 to 1913 as Kamikawa Soko (上川倉庫) red brick warehouses now houses a design gallery rented by local artists, chairs gallery and interior shop.
11 SCENIC PARK
常磐公園 / Tokiwa Koen / 24hrs / FREE
Asahikawa’s oldest oasis of green, established in 1916, is a great place to have a picnic or hire a rowboat on the pond. There are 10 sculptures and 19 stone monuments on the grounds. Cherry trees bloom around the pond in early May.
12 ART MUSEUM
Hokkaido Asahikawa Museum of Art
北海道立旭川美術館 / 9.30am-5pm / Closed Mon, 29 Dec-3 Jan / Admission ¥260 / www.dokyoi.pref.hokkaido.lg.jp/hk/abj/top
Located on the west side of Tokiwa Park, Northern Hokkaido’s best art museum has a collection of paintings and wood crafts created by local artists. The museum volunteers operate a cafe and a souvenir shop.
Asahikawa’s iconic symbol across Ishikari-gawa, at the north side of Tokiwa Park, Asahi-bashi is the city’s most beautiful bridge opened in 1932. The bridge was the first link between the city center and the military base, it was hung with the Order of the Rising Sun before WWII. Best to take photos from a riverbed for sunset.
Central Asahikawa Map