About 8km south of Esashi, Kaminokuni (上ノ国) is said that Hokkaido’s first Japanese settlement dates back to 1189. Takeda Nobuhiro, the first lord of the Matsumae clan, ruled here as a trading post in the 15th and 16th centuries. Those days the Amano-gawa (translating to the Milky Way), flowing through the town, was the border river between Ainu and Japanese. Kaminokuni is worth stepping off the bus between Esashi and Matsumae.


Kaminokuni’s few Medieval Age buildings and heritages are scattered along Route 228, about 2km west of Odome (大留) bus stop. A discounted combination ticket (共通券: kyotsu-ken) is available for the Old Sasanami House and the Katsuyama Castle Ruins Guidance Facility. Both are closed in winter.

Katsuyama Castle Ruins


600m from Kaminokuni bus stop

Originally constructed around 1470 by Takeda Nobuhiro, Katsuyama-date was Hokkaido’s represented medieval castle halfway up Io-zan (夷王山: 159m). Interestingly both Japanese and Ainu lived here until the late 16th-century. The Katsuyama Castle Guidance Facility (勝山館跡ガイダンス施設: closed in winter) displays finds from local castles and reconstructed models.

Kaminokuni Hachiman-gu & Jokoku-ji


1min walk from Kaminokuni bus stop

Established in 1473 by Takeda Nobuhiro, it has one of Hokkaido’s oldest shrine buildings constructed in 1699 inside the sheltering hall (unfortunately it is not open to the public). Next to the shrine, Jokoku-ji (上国寺), established in 1443, has Hokkaido’s oldest temple building constructed in 1757. If you want to see inside, ask the staff.

Old Sasanami House


1min walk from Kaminokuni bus stop

Hokkaido’s oldest house existing built in the early 19th-century, the Sasanami family was a fishermen’s boss of Kaminokuni. The adjoining 1848 storehouse has historical exhibits. Closed in winter.

Michi-no-eki Kaminokuni Monju


1min walk from Harauta bus stop

Located on the scenic cape Oma-no-saki, this roadside station near Harauta bus stop has fabulous sea views. The restaurant Monju (文殊) serves set meals and seafood. Juice, parfait and crepe prepared using local strawberries.

Hanazawa Onsen ♨︎


1min walk from Hanazawa-onsen bus stop

Renewed in 2017, this modern public onsen near the Amano-gawa has pleasant indoor and open-air baths. Admission is only ¥200! You can sample hot spring water. Highly recommended.

Yunotai Onsen ♨︎


1min walk from Yunotai-onsen bus stop

The winner of Hiyama’s onsen competition, this relaxed place boasts pleasant red-brown carbonated springs and friendly staff. There is also a shokudo that serves affordable ramen and rice bowls.



Kaminokuni Winery


10min walk from Yunotai bus stop

Within an old school building restored as part of Kaminokuni Winery near Yunotai Onsen, the satellite office offers eight Western-style rooms. The shared workspace has washing machines and a kitchen. Behind the building is a small ski area (free!).

Ryori-yado Miyazushi

料理宿 宮寿司

15min walk from Harauta bus stop

on the scenic cape about 2km west of the Michi-no-eki Kaminokuni Monju, this sushi restaurant offers Japanese-style minshuku overlooking the ocean.

Ryotei Kuki ♨︎

旅庭 群来

5min walk from Ubagami-cho-Ferry-mae bus stop

Located at the gateway of Kamome-jima near Kaiyo-maru, Ryotei Kuki is Esashi’s most luxury and eco-friendly ryokan. All the spacious suites have its own private baths. Dinner is a creative kaiseki affair featuring delicacies from local farms and fishing ports.


Getting There


Central Kaminokuni has two main bus stops:

Kaminokuni (上ノ国): located near Jokoku-ji temple on Route 228. It is about 2km west of Odome bus stop. It is connected with Esashi Terminal (江差ターミナル: 11min) and Haraguchi-gyoko-mae (原口漁港前: 40min), stopping at Odome, Hanazawa-onsen (花沢温泉), Harauta (原歌) and Chiisago (小砂子).

Odome (大留): the town’s main bus stop (all buses stop here) in front of Odome public hall (大留地区複合施設・上ノ国町商工会館) facing the roundabout on Route 228. The bus stop is behind the building. There are several buses daily link with JR Kikonai Station (70min) and Nakauta-cho (中歌町: 23min) in Esashi, stopping at Yunotai (湯ノ岱), Yunotai-onsen (湯ノ岱温泉) and Esashi Terminal. 

Note: Kikonai–Esashi buses don’t go to Kaminokuni bus stop. Get off the bus at Odome. Buses to/from Kaminokuni don’t go to the town center of Esashi. Change buses at Esashi Terminal.


Kaminokuni Tourist Association
Inside the Michi-no-eki Kaminokuni Monju.

Kaminokuni bus stop

上ノ国 | 가미노쿠니

Address:Kaminokuni-cho, Hokkaido

Distance:40km from Kikonai