Obihiro, Hokkaido
is a city
Cities of Japan
||A is a local administrative unit in Japan. Cities are ranked on the same level as and , with the difference that they are not a component of...

 located in Tokachi
Tokachi Subprefecture
is a subprefecture of Hokkaidō, Japan corresponding to the old province of Tokachi. As of 2004 its estimated population is 360,802 and its area is 10,830.99 km².Tokachi-Obihiro Airport is in the city of Obihiro.- Geography :-Towns and villages by district:...

, Hokkaidō
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

, Japan. Obihiro is the only city in the Tokachi
Tokachi Subprefecture
is a subprefecture of Hokkaidō, Japan corresponding to the old province of Tokachi. As of 2004 its estimated population is 360,802 and its area is 10,830.99 km².Tokachi-Obihiro Airport is in the city of Obihiro.- Geography :-Towns and villages by district:...

 area. The next most populous municipality in Tokachi is the town of Otofuke
Otofuke, Hokkaido
is a town located in Katō District, Tokachi, Hokkaidō, Japan.As of 2008, the town has an estimated population of 44,402 and a density of 89.97 persons per km². The total area is 466.09 km².-External links:...

, with less than a third of Obihiro's population. The city has approximately 500 foreign residents (as of 2008). The city contains the headquarters of the fifth division of the northern army of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Japan Self-Defense Forces
The , or JSDF, occasionally referred to as JSF or SDF, are the unified military forces of Japan that were established after the end of the post–World War II Allied occupation of Japan. For most of the post-war period the JSDF was confined to the islands of Japan and not permitted to be deployed...

. It also hosts the Rally Japan
Rally Japan
Rally Japan is a rally competition held in Hokkaidō, Japan. The event has been part of the FIA World Rally Championship since its introduction during the 2004 season. From 2004 to 2007, the event was held on the twisty and narrow gravel roads of the Tokachi region near Obihiro. For the 2008 season,...

 World Rally Championship
World Rally Championship
The World Rally Championship is a rallying series organised by the FIA, culminating with a champion driver and manufacturer. The driver's world championship and manufacturer's world championship are separate championships, but based on the same point system. The series currently consists of 13...


In 2008, Obihiro was designated as a 'model environmental city' in Japan.

Geography and transportation

The Tokachi-Obihiro Airport
Tokachi-Obihiro Airport
is an airport located south of Obihiro Station in Obihiro, Hokkaidō, Japan.-Airlines and destinations:-History:The airport opened in March 1981, initially with a runway, taking over the role of the former Obihiro Airport, now Tokachi Airfield. The runway was extended to 2,500 m in November...

 is located to the southeast of downtown Obihiro, but is still within the city's borders. It takes 30 minutes by car or 40 minutes by bus from Obihiro Station
Obihiro Station
thumb|Obihiro Station is the main railway station in the city of Obihiro in Hokkaidō. It is located on the Nemuro Main Line and is managed by Hokkaido Railway Company . Originally built in 1905, the station was rebuilt in 1996, but part of the original tracks that ran past the old Obihiro Station...

 to the airport. The next major airport nearby is New Chitose Airport
New Chitose Airport
, is an airport located south southeast of Chitose and Tomakomai, Hokkaidō, Japan, serving the Sapporo metropolitan area. By land area, it is the largest airport in Hokkaidō....

. From Obihiro, it takes 2 hrs 30 mins to get New Chitose Airport by train and just over 3 hours to get there by car. Both airports have direct flights to and from Haneda Airport
Tokyo International Airport
, commonly known as , is one of the two primary airports that serve the Greater Tokyo Area in Japan. It is located in Ōta, Tokyo, south of Tokyo Station....



Obihiro was the area first settled by Benzō Yoda in May 1883. It became a city on April 1, 1933. In 1957 the villages of Taishō and Kawanishi merged with Obihiro, bringing it to its current size.

Historical timeline

1883: Benzō Yoda and his "Banseisha" pioneers arrive in Opereperekepu
1886: The Banseisha constructs the first road and two bridges
1892: Obihiro's first post office is built
1905: The Obihiro-Kushiro railway is completed
1914: First electric lights installed
1932: Midorigaoka Airport completed
1933: Obihiro becomes a municipality. Moriharu Watanabe is the first mayor
1945: Air-raid on Obihiro during World War II
1949: Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
, is a university located in Obihiro, Hokkaidō, Japan. Commonly referred to as the Obihiro University, it is the only national university of agriculture and veterinary medicine in Japan...

1954: Emperor Hirohito
, posthumously in Japan officially called Emperor Shōwa or , was the 124th Emperor of Japan according to the traditional order, reigning from December 25, 1926, until his death in 1989. Although better known outside of Japan by his personal name Hirohito, in Japan he is now referred to...

 visits Obihiro
1960: Ōtani Junior College is built
1966: Obihiro (railway) Station is built
1985: Obihiro no Mori speed skating rink constructed
1991: Hokkaido Obihiro Museum of Art is built
1993: Population reaches 170,000 people
1996: Tokachi Ōhashi Bridge is completed
2009: Indoor Speed Skating Facility Completed


Obihiro, along with most of Tokachi, has a large agricultural sector that revolves around large scale farming operations. Farms within the city have an average of approximately 24 hectares of arable land; exceeding the Hokkaidō average (17.41 ha) and the national average (1.57 ha). The main crops produced are wheat, potatoes, beets, and beans, but there has also been progress in the production of nagaimo (dioscorea opposita
Dioscorea opposita
Dioscorea opposita is a type of yam that may be eaten raw....

) and gobō (greater burdock
Greater burdock
Greater burdock, Edible burdock, or Lappa Burdock is a biennial plant of the Arctium genus in the Asteraceae family, cultivated in gardens for its root used as a vegetable.-Description:...

); two of Tokachi's specialty products. The headquarters of 3 nationally renowned pastry companies (Rokkatei, Ryugetsu, and Cranberry) are also located in Obihiro.


Obihiro has 26 public elementary schools and 15 public middle schools. It also has 5 Hokkaido high schools, 2 private high schools and 1 city high school. The Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
, is a university located in Obihiro, Hokkaidō, Japan. Commonly referred to as the Obihiro University, it is the only national university of agriculture and veterinary medicine in Japan...

 is the only university in Tokachi.
Due to the decreasing birth rate in the area (and across the entire nation) some elementary schools are scheduled for closing by 2012.


Obihiro is blessed to have one of Japan's most pristine rivers flowing through its city limits. Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has chosen Obihiro's Satsunai River as the cleanest Class A river in Japan 7 times since 1991. It is designated as a Class A River by the Japanese government due to its importance to environmental conservation and the national economy. In the Ainu language
Ainu language
Ainu is one of the Ainu languages, spoken by members of the Ainu ethnic group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō....

, Satnay means "dry river", and even today, most of its 82 km run is shallow. The city draws most of its drinking water from the Satsunai. The biggest pollutant in the river is nitrates from fertilizer run off from all the farming operations along the river's banks. The other major river in the city is the Tokachi River
Tokachi River
is a river in Hokkaidō, Japan....

, but its water is not used for drinking as it has much higher pollution levels.


In 1974, a plan for the creation of an expansive city recreation space was initiated, and from 1975 to 2004 large groups of Obihiro citizens participated in "Tree Planting Festivals" (市民植樹祭). These actions have resulted in the creation of a new forest; the Obihiro no Mori (帯広の森). Recently, tree planting in the forest has been limited to small projects due to a lack of space to plant more trees.


International sister cities

Obihiro has three international sister-cities: Seward
Seward, Alaska
Seward is a city in Kenai Peninsula Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. According to 2005 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 3,016....

, Alaska, United States - (1968)

While on a business trip in Alaska, a (former) teacher at Obihiro's Agricultural High School, Yasuhiko Ohzono, was asked by the mayor of Seward to create some sort of cultural exchange between the two cities.
On March 21, 1967, the mayor of Obihiro sent a picture album and other materials to introduce the city to the mayor of Seward.
The mayor of Seward sent a message, a coat of arms, and a medal; all of which were personally delivered by a member of the entourage of the U.S.-Japan Fishing Industry Negotiation Team in Japan at the time.
Obihiro sends the Mayor of Seward a wooden carving of a bear.
On January 31, 1968 the resolution made by the Seward City Council arrives.
The City of Obihiro also created a resolution on March 27, 1968, the sister city agreement was signed by both sides, and exchange between the two cities began.
Since the Obihiro Economic Observation Group visited Seward in September, 1971, there have been various exchanges between Seward and Obihiro. Both mayors and many citizens of both cities have participated in exchanges, and the high school student exchange program has been put on every year since the summer of 1973.
Chaoyang, Liaoning
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the northeast of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "辽" , a name taken from the Liao River that flows through the province. "Níng" means "peace"...

, People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 - (2000)

Interaction between the two cities began with Chaoyang's Economic Observation Group Visit to Obihiro on May 30, 1985. In September that same year, Obihiro sent the 15 member Northeast China Friendship and Observation Group to Chaoyang.
Since then various groups have made exchange visits, agricultural trainees have been received, and there has even been exchanges of craft projects between elementary students. Since 1987, administrative and agricultural trainees have made 13 visits. In addition, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) has been sending agricultural specialists to Chaoyang.
At the end of October in 1999, the mayor of Obihiro at the time, Toshifumi Sunagawa, lead the Official Friendship Visit Group to Chaoyang, and he exchanged memos regarding the signing of a Friendship City Agreement.
On November 17, 2000, the mayor of Chaoyang at the time, Daicao Wang, lead a delegation to Obihiro where a Friendship City Agreement was signed with the purpose of deepening interaction between the two cities across a wide range of fields, and to promote further friendship and peace between the two cities; not to mention China and Japan.
The two cities have run a high school student exchange program since 2002.
Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison....

, Wisconsin, United States - (2006)

Obihiro became sister cities with Madison in October 2006. The two cities have almost the same latitude, and have similar climates. The content of the sister-city relationship has been mainly various visits to Madison regarding the field of mental health, but since the official start of the relationship there have been various fact-finding missions to and from Madison. There was even a short visit to Obihiro by two Madison area students, in August 2007. Obihiro hopes to learn more about Madison agriculture, mental health systems and facilities, and about how the University of Wisconsin–Madison
University of Wisconsin–Madison
The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a public research university located in Madison, Wisconsin, United States. Founded in 1848, UW–Madison is the flagship campus of the University of Wisconsin System. It became a land-grant institution in 1866...

 runs various programs and organizations that have helped make it the university it is today. For example, the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine
, is a university located in Obihiro, Hokkaidō, Japan. Commonly referred to as the Obihiro University, it is the only national university of agriculture and veterinary medicine in Japan...

 has shown interest in marketing ice cream and other dairy products as the Babcock Dairy does at UW–Madison.

Ban'ei horse racing

Obihiro is famous for the unique style of horse racing that takes place at the city's horse racetrack. Hokkaidō farmers in the 1900s had tug-of-war contests between their work horses to judge their strength and value. This gradually became a more formalized event and eventually became the racing we know today as Ban'ei horse racing. Rather than an oblong track, which most people think of when talking about horse racing, Obihiro's ban'ei track is a straight 200 m run with two hills. Large and powerful draft horses pull sleds that can weigh more than a ton while their rider whips them hard to make them go faster. The track and facilities were renovated in 2007 due to major efforts by the city government to increase the popularity of the races. One unique aspect of the track is that spectators can walk alongside the track as the horses struggle towards the finish line. Starting in 2006, the City of Obihiro has poured money into reviving this sport and considers it a part of the city's traditional culture.

Major festivals

Obihiro has three major festivals: the Flat Plain Festival, the Chrysanthemum Festival, and the Ice Festival.
Passing its 60th year in 2007, this festival spans 3 days in mid August during Obihiro's O-bon holiday season. The festival takes place on the downtown streets of Obihiro and includes a taiko drum performance that spans multiple city blocks with teams from all over Hokkaidō, an energetic night-time parade called Yume Furu Ya (夢降夜, "The night of raining dreams") which expresses hopes for a good harvest, and a 2 hour long O-bon dance that includes an open section for anyone to jump in and dance along with all the other groups who are competing for first prize.

Held every year around the end of October, this 6 day festival celebrates an important flower in the Japanese culture. This festival features thousands of chrysanthemums on display in Obihiro's Central Park (中央公園). In 2007, the festival will be held from October 30 to November 4.

The cold weather and ice-caked roads of Obihiro can make it hard for people to go out and have fun in the winter, but this festival provides the residents of Obihiro and all of Tokachi to get out and enjoy the white snow of the season. There are fireworks and foodstands, and a pathway lined with various snow and ice sculptures. Some of the sculptures are of funny characters such as Anpanman
is one of the most popular anime cartoon series for young children in Japan. , the titular Anpanman is the most popular fictional character among people age 0 to 12 years in Japan in 10 consective years, according to research by Bandai. The series is written by Takashi Yanase, a Japanese writer of...

, but other sculptures can be truly awe inspiring images of fantastic mythical figures.

Kita no Yatai

The Kita no Yatai (北の屋台) is an alleyway of unique foodstands that is open all year-round, and offers foods from many different countries. Sitting on a small stool next to a complete stranger is far from awkward at the yatai. In fact, eating and drinking at the yatai is a rare opportunity to mix and mingle with people of all backgrounds, experience good food and good beverages of all types, and to just have a good time.


Obihiro is famous for pork meat glazed in a special sauce on rice, which is called butadon
, often literally translated into English as pork bowl, is a Japanese dish consisting of a bowl of rice topped with pork simmered in a mildly sweet sauce. It also often includes a sprinkling of green peas. A popular food in Japan, it is commonly served with takuan...

 (豚丼) and mutton, which is oddly named after Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 and called jingiskan
is a Japanese grilled mutton dish prepared on a convex metal skillet or other grill. The dish is particularly popular on the northern island of Hokkaidō and Thailand.-Etymology:...

 (ジンギスカン). It is also famous for potatoes and dairy products, which are common produce in Tokachi. Obihiro also claims to be the origin of a dish called Chuuka Chirashi. It is also known for its high quality turnips.

Tokachi International Relations Center

The Tokachi International Relations Center (森の交流館・十勝, TIRC) was opened in 1996 and is quite an intriguing piece of architecture. The TIRC was created to facilitate international studies and events, academic study, and just general interaction between people of all different cultures and backgrounds. The creation of the TIRC played a large role in wooing the Japan International Cooperation Agency
Japan International Cooperation Agency
The Japan International Cooperation Agency is an independent governmental agency that coordinates official development assistance for the government of Japan...

 (JICA) to build the JICA Obihiro facility next-door, and many events are now coordinated between the various organizations housed in both buildings. The TIRC offers a library room, an all-purpose gymnasium, kitchen facilities, and a large indoor "winter garden" where people can sit and talk or study underneath flora that normally wouldn't grow all year-round in Obihiro. Two major events held here each year are the "Friends of the World" cookout, where over 2,000 people gather to enjoy various countries' foods cooked right before their eyes, and the "Mori no Halloween" party where over 1,000 costumed parents and children flock to the TIRC to celebrate a holiday not native to Japan.

JICA Obihiro International Centre

JICA Obihiro (Japan International Cooperation Agency
Japan International Cooperation Agency
The Japan International Cooperation Agency is an independent governmental agency that coordinates official development assistance for the government of Japan...

/Obihiro International Centre) was established in April 1996 as a center for international cooperation activities in eastern Hokkaido. JICA carries out a variety of programmes to support the nation-building of developing countries through technical cooperation. In all, there are three organizations housed in the International Centre; Japan International Cooperation Agency, Japan International Cooperation Center, and the Northern Regions Center.

Obihiro Zoo

Obihiro Zoo (おびひろ動物園) opened in 1963. Construction of a new monkey facility was completed in June, 2008. It cost approximately 266 million yen (2.66 million USD)

Obihiro Library

The new Obihiro public library was opened in 2006, and currently has over 300 English language books available.

Indoor ice-skating rink

An olympic size indoor ice-skating rink has been completed on the west side of Obihiro. Its construction was controversial due to its large price tag. The tentative budget for the project was the equivalent of US$30 million.
It is the site for the Essent ISU
International Skating Union
The International Skating Union is the international governing body for competitive ice skating disciplines, including figure skating, synchronized skating, speed skating, and short track speed skating. It was founded in Scheveningen, Netherlands in 1892, making it one of the oldest international...

 World Sprint Speed Skating Championships
World Sprint Speed Skating Championships
The World Sprint Speed Skating Championships are annual speed skating championships. The championships are held over a two day period, with the skaters racing one 500 m and one 1,000 m each day...


Notable people from Obihiro

  • Nagisa Abe
    Nagisa Abe
    is a singer and actress who had a minor role in the 2004 movie Swing Girls.-References:...

  • Tomo Furukawa
    Tomo Furukawa
    Tomo Furukawa is a Japanese musician best known for being the lead vocalist of Guniw Tools. He is currently working on a solo project called Shilfee and Tulipcorobockles, as well as Nookicky and TafucaMadara.- Projects :* Darwin 4078...

     (singer and artist)
  • Manami Hino
    Manami Hino
    , born January 8, 1980, is a Japanese bobsledder who has competed since 1999.-Performance:*Finished 15th in the two-woman event at the 2006 Winter Olympics.*Finished 20th in the two-woman event at the 2007 FIBT World Championships in St. Moritz....

     (Olympic Bobsledder)
  • Jun Kasai
    Jun Kasai
    is a Japanese professional wrestler, primarily competing for Big Japan Pro Wrestling. Dubbed the Crazy Monkey for his violent and oftentimes self-harmful style of hardcore wrestling, Kasai is considered a breakthrough talent in Japanese wrestling, able to work both hardcore and technical styles...

     (professional wrestler)
  • Maya Sakura
    Maya Sakura
    is an enka singer and child actress. In 2008, she made her debut with the single at the age of 10. In 2009, she received a "New Artist" award at the 51st Annual Japan Record Awards, becoming the youngest person to do so....

    is a popular Japanese music genre considered to resemble traditional Japanese music stylistically. Modern enka, however, is a relatively recent musical form which arose in the context of such postwar expressions of modern Japanese nonmaterial nationalism as nihonjinron, while adopting a more...

  • Hiroyasu Shimizu
    Hiroyasu Shimizu
    Hiroyasu Shimizu is a Japanese speed skater. He has an Olympic Gold medal from 1998 in the 500m and his win made him a hero in his home country. He currently holds the world record for the 100m speed skating event in 9.43 seconds...

    (Olympic Speedskater)

External links

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