10 Things to Do in Hokkaido’s Romantic City of Obihiro

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  • Obihiro (帯広) is an important economic and political center located in the Tokachi plain (十勝平野) of Hokkaido prefecture. The city’s population isn’t very high, but it offers a lot of things to do. It is considered to be one of the cleanest cities in Japan, even nominated as a “model city” in 2008. Here are the top ten things to do in the beautiful city of Obihiro!

    1. Feel the Romance at Kofuku Station (幸福駅)

    Kofuku Station has been named one of the most romantic train stations in Japan by many magazines. It is featured on many TV programs and documentaries because of its name and beautiful location. The word “Kofuku” translates into “happiness” in English.

    Kofuku Station attracts thousands of tourists from around the world, thus becoming a major attraction in Obihiro. The station was closed in 1987, but due to the popularity, the government decided to modernize it and open it again to the public. A romantic picture here with your loved one will leave you with thousands of memories.

    Kofuku Station Access

    2. Watch and Learn About “Ban’ei” Horse racing

    The people of Obihiro largely depend on horses for farming or transport. If you have the opportunity to visit the rural areas surrounding the city, you can witness farms where you can learn how to ride a horse!

    There is a horse racing track in Obihiro where draft racing takes place very often amidst the cold weather. The trained horses are made to run carrying heavy sleds with jockeys guiding them. This type of unique horse racing is called “Ban’ei”. Obihiro is the only place in Japan where you can actually witness draft horse racing. The rest of the courses in other cities of Hokkaido were closed due to lack of maintenance and funds to run.

    There is also a museum dedicated to horses, the Obihiro Horse Museum (Japanese only) which is located within the grounds of the racing course. Here, you can learn about the history of “Banba” rearing in the region. Banba are draft horses that are very heavy in stature and are used to pull sleds. Entry into this museum is free.

    Obihiro Racecourse Website
    Obihiro Racecourse and Horse Museum Access

    3. Relax in the Parks

    Obihiro has a lot of beautiful scenic parks with flowers, ponds, birds, and trees. The famous ones are the Midorigaoka Park (緑ヶ丘公園) and Manabe Garden (真鍋庭園). These parks are perfect spots to relax with your family. These also have some interesting monuments or sightseeing spots nearby for you to visit. For example, Midorigaoka Park is located very close to the city center and has memorial halls in it to visit. There is an another park named Shichiku Garden (紫竹ガーデン) where you can see English-style gardening, bees, and squirrels.

    4. Take a Day Trip to Lake Shikaribetsu (然別湖)

    Lake Shikaribetsu is part of the Daisetsu-zan National Park (大雪山国立公園) and can be reached from Obihiro Station in about an hour via car. A day trip to this place can unveil a whole bunch of exhilarating experiences. The lake has a lot of interesting things to do, such as canoeing, hot air ballooning, and more.

    You can see the beautiful scenery of the lake from above in a hot air balloon. You can have a picnic near the lake in the park amidst captivating scenery. If you are tired by the end of the day, you can relax at the famous Tokachi hot springs.

    Lake Shikaribetsu Website *Japanese only
    Lake Shikaribetsu Access

    5. Visit Centennial Museum and Other Memorials

    The city of Obihiro not only has a lot of gardens, but also a number of museums and memorials to visit. The Obihiro Centennial Museum (帯広百年記念館 – automatic translation available) is an interesting archaeological museum located in Midorigaoka Park displaying ancient tools, artifacts, pottery shards, weapons, and much more.

    There are other small museums dedicated to agriculture machinery, art, and beet in the city of Obihiro. There is also a memorial dedicated to a famous mountaineer called Naomi Uemura (植村直己), where you can find out interesting things about his life. You can even stroll near the city hall where you can find a number of exhibits.

    6. See Swans in Iwanai Nature Village (岩内自然の村)

    The Iwanai Nature Village is a beautiful place with river lanes in and around the park. The Tokachi River (十勝川) is considered one of the most pristine rivers in the entire country, and it attracts many swans in the winter season. You can see hundreds of swans swimming along Tokachi River, and they even get close to you if you offer them food. You can take a leisurely walk along with these swans amidst nature. In winter, it can get very cold, so if you plan to spend a lot of time outside, make sure you dress warmly.

    Iwanai Nature Village Website *Japanese only
    Iwanai Nature Village Access

    7. Eat Chocolate!

    Hokkaido, in general, is famous for some of the best chocolate in Japan, and there are a lot of confectioneries in Obihiro for you to explore. Some of the popular chocolates include ROYCE’ chocolate (ロイズ), Ishiya Shiroi Koibito (石屋白い恋人) Chocolate, Rokkatei (六花亭) Strawberry White Chocolate, and others. You can also find a Hokkaido version of the famous KitKats here in Obihiro in some stores!

    8. Bathe in a Hot Spring

    Obihiro has a lot of famous onsens where you can take a nice bath after your daytime adventures. Some of the names of the onsens include Midorigaoka Onsen (緑ヶ丘温泉), Shirakaba Onsen (白樺温泉), Tomo-no-Yu (朋の湯) and Roma-no-Yu (ローマノ湯) Onsens, Asahiyu (アサヒ湯) and others. There are a few hotels which have very extraordinary onsen facilities, such as Onsen Hotel Boston and Tokachi Gardens Hotel.

    9. Stroll the Streets

    The streets of Obihiro are very picturesque and less crowded than other cities such as Tokyo. They are perfect for cycling. There is also a place in Obihiro called Tokachimura (とかちむら) where you can find flea markets to buy food or souvenirs during your trip. You can find local varieties of food and products there.

    There is a street called Kita no Yatai (北の屋台), where you can find a series of izakayas (Japanese-style bars) with a wide range of dishes in their menus.

    Tokachimura Website *Japanese only
    Tokachimura Access

    Kita no Yatai Website *Japanese only
    Kita no Yatai Access

    10. Visit the Obihiro Zoo (帯広動物園)

    Hokkaido is a beautiful region with plenty of wildlife. Obihiro Zoo is a must-visit if you are in the city, as it has different species of animals such as elephants, giraffes, snow monkeys, and many more. It is located near Midorigaoka Park where you can relax with your family anytime during the day.

    Obihiro Zoo Website *Japanese only
    Obihiro Zoo Access

    These are the ten things to do when you are in the scenic city of Obihiro in Hokkaido. Do visit the city and see for yourself how beautiful it is.

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