The Official Hokkaido Adventure Travel Guide

A Cycling Tour of Southern Hokkaido - Enjoy Japanese Culture Brought by the Kitamaebune -





  • JPY298,500

  • 4 days 3 nights

  • Min.4, Max. 10

  • Cycling


  • Take a cycling tour around historical Japanese heritage port towns.
  • Learn the history and heritage of the Kitamaebune, and explore the roots of Japanese culture.
  • Stroll through the historic town of Matsumae, the castle town of the Matsumae Domain, which once flourished as a center of politics, economy and culture.
  • Enjoy locally caught seafood, local dishes, and traditional food which originated more than 150 years ago.
  • Experience cross-cultural exchange experience with local guides.

Hakodate and Matsumae in Oshima area, Esashi in Hiyama area


Matsumae Castle


Japanese Set Meal of Fresh Seafood


The Kitamaebune refers to both a shipping route and a type of cargo vessel which played a vital role in the history of Japan. From 1700– to 1900, the Kitamaebune ships connected Hokkaido and Osaka by sea, conveying not only goods, but also aspects of Japanese culture, such as folk songs, entertainment, and food culture. It is designated as a part of Japanese heritage.

“Dashi ”, the soup stock which serves as a foundation flavor of Japanese food, is made of kelp from Hokkaido, which was carried across Japan by the Kitamaebune, serving as an opportunity to develop unique Japanese cuisine culture in various parts of the country. Enjoy the cycling tour while feeling the wind of the sea of Japan, thinking of the dreams of the men who crossed the rough sea and did remarkable work on the course of the Kitamaebune.



Visiting Hakodate, a registered Japanese Heritage Site

From Hakodate airport, we will head for Mt. Hakodate (334m=1143f), where sailors of the Kitamaebune checked the weather out to sea before departure. Basking in nature, we will hike to the top of the mountain. Mt. Hakodate was used as a military fortress for about 50 years until the end of WW Ⅱ, as evidenced by the remains of ammunition from the area’s wartime history, which can still be seen to this day. During this long period of time, members of the public were prohibited from entering the mountains. As a result, nature has been well-preserved in this area, which is now home to more than 600 different kinds of plants and 150 different kinds of birds. We will enjoy this Specially Protected Wildlife Sanctuary for about an hour.

After descending the mountain by a cable car, we will go to Kahei Takadaya Museum at the Bay Area. Kahei Takadaya was the owner of the Kitamaebune ship called the Shinetsu-maru. Among the displayed items are a reconstructed model of the Shinetsu-maru and daily necessities used on the Kitamaebune ships, such as a compass, a chest and cooking equipment.

Then, we will stroll around the Bay Area to view the redbrick warehouses, which were used at the time when the Kitamaebune ships were active. This area was a prosperous center as a port where ships came in.

A single Western-style room will be waiting for you at La’gent Stay Hakodate Ekimae, which is conveniently located only one minute’s walk from JR Hakodate Station. Enjoy a natural hot spring full of Japanese atmosphere.

We will have dinner at an izakaya ( a Japanese-style tavern) specializing in live fish, particularly Hakodate specialties such as squid (=Ika in Japanese). Squid taken out from the fish tank in the izakaya are prepared right away. You can enjoy varieties of fish and shellfish with much gusto here.


Feeling the course of the Kitamaebune, the main artery of the sea

We will leave the hotel around 6:30 a.m. with a lunch box for breakfast and eat it on the train from Hakodate JR Station to Kikonai. The train goes along the coastline of the Tsugaru Strait famous for its scenic beauty. Looking at the Tsugaru Strait, you may think of the past when the Kitamaebune was in action.

We will arrive at Kikonai around 8:00 a.m. and get ready for cycling. After the orientation at Roadside Station Misogi no Sato, we will start cycling around 8:30 a.m. and head for Matsumae.

After checking in at Yano Ryokan, we will explore Matsumae, the northernmost castle town in Japan. We will visit Matsumae castle and Temple District to witness the cultural history of the town that had prospered with the Kitamaebune. After enjoying the historical streetscape, we will drop in a 190-year-old storage facility, where materials of the Kitamaebune have been kept, we will experience tasting local sake.


Enjoy cycling to your heart’s content in Kaminokuni area which is full of history of Kitamaebune

Kitamaebune is a cargo vessel that sailed between Hokkaido and Osaka via the Sea of Japan from the Edo era to the Meiji 30s while buying and selling products at each port of call. One round trip brought a profit of 60 million to 100 -150 million yen. Products such as kelp and herring from Hokkaido became a foundation of the Japanese food in West Japan, which has been registered as a Cultural Heritage.

After eating a breakfast, we will start cycling around 8:30 a.m. along the coastline
of the Sea of Japan.

We will check in at Hotel Terakoya early around 15:00 after cycling almost all day. After taking a rest for a while, we will go to Tsubanakan Restaurant to eat a Western-style dinner.


In the breeze by the sea, let’s think of the old Esashi that was crowded with Kitamaebune

After resting our tired body from the long cycle, after breakfast we will visit Kamomejima Island where the Kitamebune came to anchor. The circumference of the island is 2.6km, and sits at 30m above sea level. This island protects the coast from rough waves of the Sea of Japan, making it a good natural port. It is for this reason that Esashi became the stage of the trade of herring and the Kitamaebune.

Thanks to the trade by the Kitamaebune, the town had prospered until the early Meiji period. Esashi is said to be the birthplace of Hokkaido culture. In the Tokugawa period, the population in Esashi exceeded 30,000 and it was said that “even Edo (Tokyo) is not as busy as Esashi in May”.

We will spend all morning strolling around Kamomejima island while imagining the Esashi of days gone by, and have a picnic lunch under the spacious blue sky.

Then, around 13:00, we will leave for Yakumo JR Station by bus and take a train to Sapporo JR Station, where the tour will end.

14:30 Yakumo JR Station
17:30 Sapporo JR Station


Breakfast Lunch Dinner
1 - - fish and shellfish at an izakaya ( a Japanese-style tavern)
2 a lunch box on a train heading to Kikonai Matsumae Iwa-nori Danju lunch at Roadside Station Kitamaebune local dishes at Onsen Ryokan Yano
3 local dishes at Onsen Ryokan Yano lunch box at Roadside Station Kaminokuni Monju a Western-style dinner at Tsubanakan Restaurant
4 local dishes in hotel a picnic lunch on Kamomejima island -


Area Facility Type Room Type Onsen / Spa WiFi
1 Hakodate Hotel (La’gent Stay Hakodate Ekimae) single Western-style room natural hot spring WiFi
2 Matsumae Ryokan (Onsen Ryokan Yano) Japanese-style room natural hot spring WiFi
3 Esashi Hotel (Hotel Terakoya) WiFi

Tour Operator / Contact

Kinki Nippon Tourist Co., Ltd (KNT)


6F NX Sapporo Bldg., 2-1, North 3 West2, Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-0003, Japan


Official Web Site

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