Listen to the people, and learn about daily life in Esashi

Listen to the people, and learn about daily life in Esashi

Of all the towns in Hokkaido, Esashi is particularly notable for its unique history and culture. In the Heian Period (794 to 1185), Esashi became permanently populated by wajin (ethnic Japanese) settlers, and by the early 1200s, the Ubagami Daijingū shrine was built. During the Edo period (1603 to 1868), the town prospered with herring fishery, and trading fleets of the Kitamaebune shipping route brought wealth and culture to Esashi. About 150 years ago, during the Boshin War, Esashi was held by fleeing forces of the former Tokugawa shogunate.

Facing influences such as the Tokugawa shogunate, Matsumae domain, and Meiji government, this town clung tenaciously to the cultural identity of its citizens.

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’.

Although they may feel that they are simply leading ordinary lives, some of Esashi’s citizens make great contributions to preserving the town’s unbroken cultural heritage. This special feature explores the lives and stories of these remarkable townspeople.

Words by Ida Yukitaka
JAPANESE