Hokkaido’s widest city (1427-sq-km) of Kitami (北見) makes a convenient stopover point for the beautiful lakes of Chimikeppu-ko, Saroma-ko and Akan-ko. The city has a few interesting sights and a large number of yakiniku restaurants.
Kitami Mint Memorial Museum
(北見ハッカ記念館) Kitami has been a peppermint producing area for centuries, which supplied 70 percent of the world in the 1930s. An old mint factory office now houses a collection of peppermint, processed goods, old machines and photos. The Mint Distillery (薄荷蒸留館) demonstrates the distillation of peppermint. It is a 10-minute walk south of JR Kitami Station. More info www.kitamihakka.jp
Pierson Memorial House
(ピアソン記念館) Designed by William Merrell Vories in 1914, American missioners Pierson and his wife lived in this Swiss-style lovely wooden house on a hill for 15 years. Their historic photos, letters and books are on display. It is about 1km northwest of JR Kitami Station. More info www.npo-pierson.org
The city center is easily walkable in a matter of hours from JR Kitami Station. Otherwise, taxi tours around the city are also good.