Urakawa, the small capital of Hidaka Region, is worth a visit for thoroughbred horse lovers. One of world’s greatest blood-horse training centers spread out along the Pegasus Road. If you have come from Sapporo or New Chitose Airport by Donan Bus, Urakawa is the end point and where JR buses connect to Samani.
Highlights JRA Hidaka Training Farm
Tourist Information Urakawa Tourism Association (浦河観光協会): Tel 0146-22-3200 / 2-27 Odori / 9am-6pm / www.urakawa-tabi.com
01 SCENIC FARM
JRA Hidaka Training Farm
JRA日高育成牧場 / Nishicha / Training area 7am-1pm Mon-Sat / jra.jp/hidaka
Founded in 1907 as a stallion farm, the 1500-hectare Hidaka Training Farm (ikusei bokujo) is something like ‘Japan’s Newmarket or Chantilly’. You can walk around the Blood-horse Training Area (7am-1pm Mon-Sat; Free) from the south gate information center, the main highlight is a 1000m-long indoor training course.
A free guided bus tour (10.30am-noon Wed & Fri Jun-Oct, plus Thu late Jul-Aug) show you to the facilities. Call to reserve (Tel 0146-28-1211: weekdays) by the day.
About 400m west of the south gate is the Observation Tower (8am-4pm Apr-Oct / FREE). There is also a century-old Memorial Hall (10am-4pm Apr-Oct / FREE), about 200m ahead from the tower, exhibits on farm history.
The farm office is 7km north of JR Hidaka-Horobetsu (日高幌別) Station, it is better to have a car. Yushun Village AERU (うらかわ優駿ビレッジ) offers horse riding tours in the farm and pick you up from the train station (or bus terminal) for guests.
Yushun Village AERU
優駿ビレッジアエル / Tel 0146-28-2111 / Nishicha / aeru-urakawa.co.jp
Hidaka’s most modern resort hotel, this is the best place to admire the thoroughbred, located west side of the JAR training center looking out over the mountains. Nonguests can use the public baths Aeru-no-yu (アエルの湯: 6am-11pm except 8.30-11.30am Mon & Fri) on the 3rd floor.
The AERU organises horse riding for beginner to advanced, and canoeing on the artificial lake Urara-ko. Guests can join a free guided tour inside the JRA training center from late April to October (starts at 8am), you need to make a reservations by 8pm the day before at the reception.
They offers a free shuttle service from Hidaka-Horobetsu Station or Urakawa bus terminal for guests.
03 LOCAL HISTORY
Urakawa Town Museum & Horse Museum
浦河町立郷土博物館 · 馬事資料館 / 9am-4.30pm, from 9.30am Dec-Mar / Closed Mon & holiday / FREE
Housed in an old elementary school, the town museum contains natural specimen, fishing gear and agricultural equipment. Adjoining the Horse Museum focuses on local thoroughbred and harness. About a 10-minute walk east of Hidaka-Horobetsu Station.
Currently the trains on the JR Hidaka Line from Tomakomai end in Mukawa (30min). Alternative JR buses run between Mukawa and Samani with require a change at Shizunai on the Thoroughbred Road Hidaka. JR Urakawa Station (浦河駅) is right opposite the town hall.
Donan Bus Kosoku Pegasus-go (高速ペガサス号) runs between Sapporo Station and Urakawa (7 daily / 3hrs 45min), stopping at the Yakuba-mae (役場前) stop near the town hall and the train station. Compulsory reservation by the day before if you get on the bus from Urakawa.