The “Town Planning Project that Highlights History” started in 1989. The road project was completed in November 2004, significantly transforming the street scenery of the historic town area, Inishie Road. Town development that accentuates scenery is being promoted, and maintenance and repairs to the building landscape, information signs, underground placement of electric lines, sewerage system and parks are nearly finished. In the future, various projects that breathe new life into the area will be jointly developed with the community.
This shows the festival held at Ubagami Grand Shrine last year. Previously, electric lines hindered the float parade, but placing the electric lines underground ensured the smooth procession of the floats and enhanced the spectacle.
Here is Inishie Road after improvements. The road was widened to make the one-way lane into a street that accommodates two-way traffic, which transformed Inishie Road into a thoroughfare that takes the convenience of the community into consideration.
The Japanese people have long visited Esashi, a port town in Hokkaido that was one of the first to open its harbor. From the 17th century, this town took advantage of the kitamaebune cargo vessels that traveled along routes on the Japan Sea, and prospered through herring fishing, and trade in herring and cypress wood. Many historic and cultural legacies still remain. To continually pass on this beautiful, treasured locale to future generations and offer visitors a serene setting, the town is promoting the development of a streetscape that radiates history. At the heart of that development lies Inishie Road, located in an area along a former national highway stretching through Nakauta-cho and Ubagami-cho neighborhoods. Here, visitors can find numerous historic spots, including wholesale stores, storehouses, merchant homes, and townhouses related to the cypress wood and herring trade that flourished until the early Meiji Period, as well as many historic buildings and sites, such as shrines and temples. The town is establishing rest sites and pleasant walking courses so that visitors can leave their cars, enjoy a stroll, and explore historic spots while admiring the simple beauty of the tiled roofs and wooden houses, and experience local flavors by trying dishes such as nishin soba. Esashi-cho Kaijo Kaikan has been renovated and established along a walking course as a sightseeing spot that is now utilized as a free rest house. It is the perfect place to take a break from touring the town or enjoy a little rest.
Late Edo Period (preserved)
Mid Meiji Period-Taisho Period
Late Taisho Period
The prosperity of Esashi was declared in the saying, “Even Edo is not as busy as Esashi in May.” The Japanese came and went from early on to this port town in Hokkaido, which was one of the first to open a harbor. Its period of prosperity stemming from herring fishing, and trade in herring and cypress wood developed from the 17th century through the activities of kitamaebune cargo vessels that sailed the Japan Sea and continued until early in the Meiji Period.
Esashi has a very long history, and there are many historic sites that remain, including industrial buildings related to the cypress wood and herring trade such as wholesale stores, storehouses, merchant homes, and townhouses, as well as numerous historic buildings and sites, such as shrines and temples.
Initiatives have been launched in Esashi attempting to revitalize the town by making the most of these historic resources. Since 1989, the town has promoted a town-planning project that utilizes its history to carry out comprehensive, focused development of the downtown area, which has a particular concentration of numerous historic resources. This project has turned the area along a former national highway stretching through Nakauta-cho and Ubagami-cho neighborhoods (known as Inishie Road) into a model district.
In FY1996, the town established the “Esashi Street and Townscape Planning Ordinance & Enforcement Regulations” for the entire town that stipulates matters necessary to create a historic streetscape that forms the base for town planning projects that call attention to history.
The aim of this ordinance is to promote town planning that appeals to both visitors and residents alike through the creation of unique streetscapes that highlight historic and cultural properties exclusive to Esashi, and thereby qualitatively, emotionally, and economically improve the townspeople’s environment. This area, which has a notable concentration of historic resources still standing, was designated as a “townscape planning area that highlights history.”
Furthermore, buildings such as earthen-walled storehouses and townhouses within the area that still retain an outward appearance particularly unique to Esashi have been designated “historic building landscapes” and are being preserved and maintained.
Esashi Travel Guide
Ubagami Grand Shrine