Yubari Travel Guide
A region that once thrived when coal was king, the town of Yubari is a quieter place these days.
This, of course, is a draw for some people; if you are one of them, consider dropping by on your way elsewhere on the island of Hokkaido.
Come check out our Yubari visitor guide to Japan as we cover the best things to do in Yubari.
In prior generations, Yubari was an important town in Hokkaido, as it was home to a major deposit of coal which helped fuel power plants and industrial factories. Those glory days are now long gone, but the Coal Mining Museum of Yubari remains to tell the story of what was once the largest coal mine in all of Japan.
Here, you will find exhibits that will highlight the history of coal mining in the Yubari area, which started during the Meiji period. The highlight of this newly renovated institution is a simulated mine tunnel, where one can get a sense for what it was once like to be a person of the deeps.
After spending a morning learning about the coal mining past of Yubari, you will likely be hungry after stepping outside. Have lunch while taking in how the mine owners once lived at Yubari Rokumeikan. Before taking your seat in the dining room, wander around and check out the other rooms, as all of them have been left furnished in the way they were during the heyday of mining in Yubari region.
The restaurant portion serves fine French cuisine, staffed by cooks and chefs who have received training in France. With lunch served from 11 to 3 pm, and dinner from 5 to 9 pm, service is limited, so call ahead for reservations. If you can’t decide, be sure to try the venison.
Like much of the rest of Hokkaido, the Yubari area is surrounded by peaks that get lambasted by snow that blows in off the Sea of Japan during the winter months. If you are visiting the region at this time of year, get some powder turns in by spending the day at Mount Racey Ski Resort.
Unlike other resorts in Hokkaido, Mount Racey is in a rain shadow, meaning snowfalls here aren’t as epic as on the wet slopes of the mountains here. However, snow cannons are deployed on the slopes here, allowing resort officials to make snow when Mother Nature isn’t living up her obligations.
Expert skiers will enjoy their time here, as there are slopes on red and black runs which can approach 45 degrees in places.
The countryside surrounding Yubari is home to some amazing scenery and down to earth homesteads. It was this aesthetic that led location scouts to recommend to the director that they shoot pivotal scenes of the 1997 award-winning film, The Yellow Handkerchief, in this part of Japan.
A house remains from the movie, making it a point of pilgrimage for fans of this flick. Here, you’ll find plenty of memorabilia from the movie, including a red car, pictures from shooting, and no shortage of yellow handkerchiefs upon which fans have written their memories of this film.
Fancy yourself an urban explorer? Despite the fact that Yubari is situated in the countryside of Hokkaido, the Former Mitsubishi Oyubari Railway offer gritty photo ops that you won’t want to miss. Initially, a museum that was abandoned after funding dried up, this weathered former railway station boasts plenty of rust, decay, but also impressive sights that will impress railfans.
This includes a locomotive outfitted with a snowplow bumper on its front, as it was tasked with clearing the tracks during the uber snowy winters that afflict the island of Hokkaido on a yearly basis.
Those interested in the Shinto religion may want to take a few minutes to drop by the Yubari Shrine during a visit to the region. Accessed by a long set of stairs after passing through a Torii gate, it is a quiet spot that sees few visitors. If its peace you seek, you will find it during your time here.
If you find yourself in Yubari during Autumn, go out of your way to spend some time soaking up the beauty of Takinoue Park. Set up along a mountain stream just outside the city limits, the trees lining it turn ablaze in colour come fall, with the display peaking in early October.
Best of all, there is no charge to visit this attraction. On the way out, check out the products of local farmers and artisans, as they set up here on busy days to sell their wares to tourists.
Before moving on from Yubari to your next destination in Hokkaido, grab some food at Bari Yatai. A series of mobile food stalls that sell ramen, soba noodles, and other Japanese street favourites, there will surely be something here that will satisfy your hunger.