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Development of the Onuma Park Square area

After the early development stage that saw the reproduction and conservation of wildlife and land reclamation, the park has blossomed into one of Hokkaido’s foremost sightseeing spots thanks to the efforts of Onuma-loving people.

In 1849, people from the Nambu and Tsugaru areas and Shimosa Province settled in Ikusagawa due to a poor harvest in the Ouu region. In 1858, the Hakodate Magistrate opened a stock farm and began raising more than 50 cows. The Soma Domain embark on the development work of Ikusagawa Village in 1865, and completed the Higashi-honganji Road between Ikusagawa and Sawara four years later. Although the foundation for the development of Ikusagawa as a farming village was gradually formed, the Onuma area was still undeveloped at that time.

Twenty-five years later, in 1890, people began to live in the Onuma area, and earned a sparse living as fishermen at Lake Onuma and Lake Konuma. In 1893, people engaged in fishing at Lake Onuma, Lake Konuma and Lake Junsai established a fishing cooperative and made arrangements to conserve resources. This marked the beginning of the development of Onuma Park. Kokanee were transplanted into the lakes in 1900, shrimp in 1909, and wakasagi smelt and Japanese crucian carp in 1927. Various kinds of carp and crappies from the US were also released into the lakes. People strived to reproduce and conserve such fish through trial and error, contributing to the economic development of Onuma.

In 1897, a man named Hideo Ukita moved from his home prefecture of Kagawa to Onuma with more than 20 people from the same region, and they were engaged in the development of the area. Although reclamation was extremely difficult and they faced setbacks, they laid the foundation for the development of Onuma. It was truly worthy of admiration.

With a rise in the momentum of development thanks to the opening of the railway between Hakodate and Otaru, people who anticipated the potential of Onuma as a sightseeing spot or a summer retreat purchased waterfront land and were committed to the development of Onuma.

The railway between Hakodate and Otaru was opened in June 1903, and five years before, promotional activities were eagerly conducted to attract the railway and build a station. There is a part fully describing the scenic beauty of Onuma in the petition submitted to the railway company, which is as follows:

“One thing especially worth mentioning is the scenic beauty of Lake Onuma and Lake Konuma. The lakes are collectively known as poroto, and the circumference is more than 27 kilometers. A neck of land extending from north to south cuts between the two lakes. The large lake in the east is called Lake Onuma, and the small lake in the west is called Lake Konuma. There is an islet between them, stretching more than 18 meters left to right. A strange-shaped rock that looks like stacked boards pokes more than 15 centimeters out of the water in the center of Lake Konuma. It is called Tatami-iwa Rock. In the water, there is a strange spot that extends more than 1,090 meters between Cape Azakitakaikon and Cape Togeshimomura, where the water is shallow and people can walk. There are floating islets on the lakes. Cold and hot spring waters gush out up to around 9 centimeters in a spiral manner. Onuma is also home to a mountain and islets made of large rocks, creating amazing sights. It is hard to believe they are natural, but it is also impossible to artificially make them.”

Their efforts in promotional activities paid off, and the railway was opened along with Onuma Station. The scenic beauty of Onuma was spread by travelers who saw the superb view from the train window, and the highlight of the sightseeing map of Onuma was changed from the Junsai Lake area to the Onuma Park Square area. At the same time, some people started to run inns, stores and rest areas there, and the area was rapidly developed as a tourist destination. Onuma Tourist Guide was already being published in those days, and its preface that refers to a vision for the future of tourism in Onuma reminds us of people enchanted by the beauty of Onuma and their strong feelings for the area.

Local products are an important part of tourism. Local products that have supported the promotion of tourism in Onuma include carp arai (a kind of sashimi), crucian carp broiled with soy sauce, crucian carp pickled in sake lees, crucian carp simmered in soy sauce and sugar, crucian carp bread, Onuma dumplings, food boiled down in soy sauce, grilled fish skewers, acorn dolls and naturally made ice.