There’s a wonderful little city we have to tell you about.
It’s called Tokachi.
Where is Tokachi?
Tokachi is located 150km east of Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan’s northern most island. The name Tokachi was derived from the Ainu word “Tokapuchi” after the Tokachigawa river that runs in the center of this area.
Known for its natural hot springs, ski resorts, and food, Hokkaido has become a hot-spot for families looking for a more laid-back vacation in Japan.
Tokachi is where we met up with new friends who we were introduced to online. We used our Japan Rail JR pass (which you must purchase prior to your trip to Japan) and reserved our seats on the JR Super Ozora to Obihiro, which takes approximately 2 1/2 hours from the Sapporo Station.
Tokachi, known for their agriculture, has become famous for its farming, and is one of the main suppliers of wheat, sugar, beets, potatoes, beans, and dairy. The true beauty of Tokachi is during the spring and summer when you can see landscaped farms filled with cows, Japanese cranes and mountains.
We met up with our new friends at the historical Hokkaido Hotel where we were staying for the weekend. Recently remodeled, it is the only resort-spa hotel in Tokachi and known for its “Forest Spa” luxury room that included its own private outdoor onsen and views of garden and forest covered in white snow.
When we first opened the door to our room we were in awe as we had never experience an onsen before, let alone one in our own private room.
After a great nights sleep we met up with our friends again to see the Banei horse races at the Banei Tokachi Obihiro Horse Race Track, which is unique to the Tokachi area of Hokkaido, Japan. It was a Sunday afternoon, so it wasn’t so busy, but there were a lot of locals there who were betting so that was a bit exciting. We even got to place a few bets as well prior to the start of the race.
When the race finally did start (one every half hour), it was quite exciting to watch. The horses used in the races are crosses of Percheron, Breton, and Belgian breeds. Horses compete by pulling heavily weighted sleds up sand ramps while being urged on by jockeys sitting on top of the sleds. It was exciting to watch until our horse couldn’t make it up and over the last ramp and eventually fell over. My daughter nearly cried watching him try to get back up. But he did and he finished the race unscathed. Obviously our horse didn’t win, but it’s definitely something to see if you’re visiting Tokachi.
*If you have little children it can be overwhelming for them to watch the horses so be mindful of this when you go.
If you’re not into horse racing you can enjoy the beer garden and backyard tours for a behind-the-scenes look at the racecourse, as well as a petting zoo. The kids loved feeding the horses (which were so large) and riding the ponies. We also loved that they had a local farmers market selling all kinds of local products and produce.
After a decent amount of shopping at the local produce shop we headed out for dessert near our hotel called the Tokachi Toteppo Factory which we heard had the best cheesecake in the city. It is a small, quaint little cafe and we were able to select different kinds of cheesecake and take them back to the hotel to enjoy with our Japanese tea in the onsen.
As we settled in for the night in our gorgeous hotel we couldn’t help but wonder what this city must be like in the Spring. With all the wonderful produce and fresh dairy products available we can only imagine how beautiful the landscape must be.
Have you been to Tokachi before? Let us know in the comments below!
More from our kid-friendly Japan series:
- Kid-Foodie Japan: A Taste of the Satsuma-imo
- Kid Foodie Fridays: Harajuku’s Kawaii Monster Cafe
- Kid Foodie Fridays: Japanese Toilet Candy
- Taiyaki: Japan’s Wonderful Waffle
- Gashapon: Japan’s Crazy Obsession with Toy Vending Machines
- Chitose Airport: The Most Family-Friendly Airport You’ll Ever Visit
- Japan With Kids: Go to a Japanese Sumo Wrestling Match
- How to Open Store-Bought Onigiri
- Kid Foodie Fridays: Japanese Black Garlic
- Kid Foodie Fridays: Japanese “Mini” Pizza Candy Kits