200 years of Hokkaido Souvenirs (1)

Words by Masaharu Taniguchi
Photographs by Yukitaka Ida
Translation by Xene Inc.

From Ezochi specialties to Hokkaido specialties

Shogunate officials dispatched to Hokkaido during the Edo period documented the dexterity of Ainu woodworkers. Although confectionery is indispensable when it comes to Hokkaido souvenirs, the origins of this are said to stretch back to the Edo period and Esashi's Gokatteya yokan (red-bean-paste jelly).


Gokatteyayokan in the Meiji era
Illustration courtesy of Gokatteya-honpo (Esashi, Hokkaido)

In 1930, in a bid to attract tourists to Japan from overseas, an International Tourism Bureau was established within the Ministry of Railways. In Sapporo in 1934, Sapporo Grand Hotel opened as the first genuine hotel, and in the same year the two areas of Akan and Daisetsuzan were designated as Hokkaido’s first national parks, transforming Hokkaido into a tourist destination.

About that time, the typical Hokkaido souvenir was Trappist Butter made at the Trappist Monastery in Hokuto. Trappist Cookies and – at Toyako Onsen – Wakasa Imo were also sold, and even now boast many fans.

Tobetsu Trappist Monastery in the city of Hokuto

Tobetsu Trappist Monastery in the city of Hokuto

"Wakasaimo" and "Yamaoyaji"

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