In 2017, the story of Esashi Town, “May in Esashi exceeds even Edo -- A town brought to life by prosperous herring fishery”, was recognized as Hokkaido’s first official ‘Japan Heritage’. This special feature explores the lives and stories of these remarkable townspeople.
Kamome Island is the symbol of Esashi. The history of the town began from the island’s natural harbor. A house stands at the entrance of the island. I visited Aosaka Takayuki, a third generation fisherman on the island.
The Ubagami Daijingu Togyo Festival – held every year from August 9 to 11 – is what the residents of Esashi most look forward to every year. Approximately 50,000 people gather in the town – which has a population of only 8,000 – to watch portable shrines and 13 floats being paraded around the streets.
It’s hard to understand the charms of a town just by walking around. How do the people of Esashi talk about and convey its appeal?
I met people who prepare local cuisine in Esashi. Their wisdom in life; preserving vegetables and seafood through the winter and enjoying their meals is still attractive.
Esashi Oiwake settles deep in the heart of the listener. These songs mesmerize.
Long ago in Esashi, the ground was thick with Japanese cypress, and the cypress-covered mountains were a precious asset. Many of those trees were lost, and people are now planting trees for 100 years in the future.