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Nanae’s good stories 03

Historical resort

Onuma has continued to attract visitors from Japan and elsewhere since the Meiji era (1868–1912).
The scenic beauty enchants people now in the same way as before.

Tourism in Nanae Town began when the Sapporo Main Road (today’s National Highway 5) was opened in 1872. In response to the completion of Japan’s first Western-style carriageway, which ran through Lake Junsai, a man named Jubei Miyazaki opened an inn near the lake. The area around Lake Junsai became known as a scenic spot, attracting visitors from Japan and elsewhere.
Jubei Miyazaki settled in Nanae Village as one of the Hachioji Sennin Doshin (junior officials in Hachioji). After serving as a member of the Hakodate Volunteer Corps during the Battle of Hakodate, he moved to the area around Lake Junsai in 1871, and then opened Miyazaki Inn. The Emperor Meiji visited the inn when he toured Hokkaido in 1881. Isabella Bird, an English female explorer who travelled from Tokyo to Hokkaido, is also said to have stayed at the inn. Her travel account says, “I am in a place outside an upper room that protrudes over the lake.” Apparently, the inn had a raised floor like a terrace.

A railway was laid in 1903, and the focus of tourism was moved to the area around Onuma Koen Station.
At first, the railway was planned to run straight northward to Mori Town, parallel with National Highway 5, but the plan was changed to the current route that goes around Onuma Park. The change was made based on a petition submitted to the president of Kanson Railway Co., Ltd. by Hideo Ukita and other people engaged in the development of Onuma
The petition they submitted in 1898 says, “We moved here from Kagawa Prefecture, and have been engaged in the development of this area, including the construction of drains and roads, the cultivation of soybeans, adzuki beans, potatoes and other crops, and livestock farming. As a result, this area has become the focus of public attention, and will further develop in the future to become a major farming village. There is also a hot spring here. The sight of Mt. Komagatake, Lake Onuma and Lake Konuma as well as the myriad of islets on the lakes is truly spectacular. Therefore, we suggest a route that goes through a tunnel from Togeshita Village and passes through Ikusagawa Village (area around today’s Onuma Station) with views of Mt. Komagatake to Mori Village.” The development of tourism in the area around Onuma Park was closely related to the construction of the railway.

Today, National Highway 5, which runs across Nanae Town, is a major road for local residents. The road’s 14-kilometer section flanked with Japanese red pine trees is listed among the Best 100 Roads in Japan, and is also known as Akamatsu Kaido (Japanese Red Pine Road). This section of the road is popular as a place of scenic beauty as well as a valuable cultural property. The area around the station in Onuma Quasi-National Park still enchants many visitors as a place of natural beauty set against the backdrop of Mt. Komagatake.

Coverage cooperation: Hisashi Yamada, Curator, Nanae Historical Museum