Just 20km west of Otaru, the engaging town of Yoichi (余市) is home to Japanese whisky dating back to the 1930s. The area is also well-known for its fruit farming and wine making, with a number of orchards and wineries scattered the countryside along Yoichi-gawa.
Yoichi serves as a good jumping-off point to catch buses to the Shakotan Peninsula and Kiroro Resort in Akaigawa. It is worth stopping to stroll if you are passing en route between Otaru and Niseko.
The town-managed four museums are closed on Monday, day after a holiday, and from mid December to mid April. A four museums common ticket (4施設共通入場券: valid for 2-day) covers entry to Yoichi Fishery Museum, Old Shimo-Yoichi Unjoya, Old Fukuhara Herring House and Fugoppe Grotto.
Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery
3min walk (main gate for guided tours) or 10min walk (Nikka Kaikan) from Yoichi Station
Founded by Taketsuru Masataka in 1934, this 13-hectare Scottish-style distillery is home to Japanese whisky. The Nikka Museum has interesting exhibitions about whisky-making and also has an atmospheric tasting bar. Permission to visit the distillery facilities (including the tasting hall) are granted by the free guided tours (well book in advance). If you don’t participate in guided tours, enter from the Nikka Kaikan, about 700m southwest of the train station.
14min walk from Yoichi Station
The NASA’s first Japanese cosmonaut Mori Mamoru lived in this town and studied at a local high school. This riverside bathhouse was once owned by Mamoru’s parents, so you will find a space shuttle model on the rooftop. Local specialties, such as apples and mini whisky barrels, float in an indoor bath. There is also a laundromat.
Yoichi Fisheries Museum
30min walk from Yoichi Station / 10min walk from Yoichi-yakuba-mae bus stop
This outdated museum sits on the hilltop near the town hall, about 1.8km northwest of JR Yoichi Station. There are exhibits on old fishing gear, archaeological finds, gorgeous platters, and large paintings of the herring fishing drawn in the early 20th-century. The nearest bus stop is Yoichi-yakuba-mae, a 10-minute walk away.
Old Shimo-Yoichi Unjoya
27min walk from Yoichi Station / 10min walk from Yoichi-yakuba-mae bus stop
Built in 1853, this building is the Matsumae clan’s only existing trading post (unjoya) faces the fishing port. It has a drawing room with a household shinto altar, samurai’s offices, guest rooms and a quaint Japanese garden. A ticket office is on the opposite side.
Old Yoichi Fukuhara Herring House
30min walk from Yoichi Station / 1min walk from Hamanaka-cho bus stop
About 2km northwest of the train station, this herring house amid the Fukuhara family and fishermen’s home, historic warehouses and archives used until 1903. You can see old fishing gear, photos and landscape paintings.
22min walk from Ranshima Station
About 1.7km west of Ranshima Station on Route 5, this small grotto contains more than 800 ancient etchings curved by Jomon people (1300 to 1600 years ago), as well as potteries, animal bones and fireplaces.
Yoichi has a variety of sleeping options, such as guesthouses and campsites.
1min walk from Yoichi Station
Immediately to the right as you exit of JR Yoichi Station, this hotel is a great spot for wine lovers. French dinner and local-grown wine are served in the atmospheric hall. The rooms are inspired by the winery.
10min by taxi from Yoichi Station
This fantastic resort hotel is modeled after European Castle on the scenic hillside overlooking the town. The facilities include cottages, a communal bath and a golf link. There are no shuttle services from Yoichi Station.
Local trains run to Yoichi from Otaru (25min), Kutchan (50min) and Oshamanbe (2hr 40min). From Sapporo (1hr), usually change trains at Otaru.
Yoichi Station Crossroads (余市駅前十字街) is the main bus stop. Chuo Bus operates highway buses to Yoichi from Sapporo (1hr 40min) via Otaru (30min), and buses for Niseko and Iwanai continue to Niki.
From Otaru Station stop 5, buses 18, 20 and 21 run to Yoichi-Umekawa-Shako-mae (余市梅川車庫前: 48min) via Yoichi Station, Yoichi-yakuba-mae (余市役場前) and Hamanaka-cho (浜中町).
The Mura Bus (むらバス) runs to the Michi-no-eki Akaigawa (道の駅あかいがわ) from JR Yoichi Station (31min), with some going to Kiroro Mountain Center (キロロマウンテンセンター: 58min).
Rent bikes (late Apr-late Oct) are available at the Elra Plaza (エルラプラザ) souvenir shop inside JR Yoichi Station. Requires a ¥1000 deposit.
Yoichi Tourist Association
In front of JR Yoichi Station.
余市 | 요이치
Address：5 Kurokawa-cho, Yoichi-cho, Hokkaido
Distance：53km from Sapporo