The origin of the city name Nayoro is the Ainu word for the entrance to the Nayoro River, a tributary of the Tenshio River.
Words by Azusa Yajima
Photographs by Yukitaka Ida
Translation by Xene Inc.

When the rail lines opened it prospered from forestry

The city of Nayoro, which is located in the center of Northern Hokkaido, is in a basin between the Tenshio and Nayoro rivers. With a large temperature difference between summer and winter, it is an agricultural area that produces delicious glutinous rice, asparagus and kabocha squash and much more.

During the pioneer era the area was covered in thick forest and could only be accessed by riverboats going up and down the Tenshio River. When rail was laid from Asahikawa to Nayoro in 1903, logging companies came one after another from within and outside Hokkaido. The primeval forest was in the spotlight and called "a treasure house of forest." Yezo spruce was exported overseas and it was a golden age for the logging industry up until around 1918.


The snow-removing steam locomotive Kimaroki is the only one of its kind in Japan.


The Kitaichi Sawmill, which exported lumber overseas beginning in the Meiji period (1868 to 1912), photographed in 1924. (Photo courtesy of the Nayoro Hokkoku Museum)

The top glutinous rice producing town in Japan

Nayoro has more planted glutinous rice area than anywhere in Japan. About 90 percent of its paddy fields are planted with glutinous rice. It was in 1970 that eight farmers began growing glutinous rice in earnest. At the time Hokkaido rice was not well-regarded and Nayoro rice didn't sell well either. What they chose as a way to survive was glutinous rice cultivation.

Nayoro glutinous rice is soft and sticky, and it doesn't easily get hard as time passes after it is cooked. Akafuku, a famous cake from Ise, is one of many famous products around Japan made using Nayoro glutinous rice.


For the cultivation of Nayoro glutinous rice, 3,138 hectares of land is used (as of 2015).


Chicken vegetable soup with mochi at the roadside station restaurant "Restaurant Kaze no Yorimichi".

Getting there by public transportation

  • Drive from Sapporo on the Hokkaido Expressway, get off at the Shibetsu-Kenbuchi Interchange, then drive on National Route 40 to Nayoro. 2 hours 45 min.
  • Highway bus from Sapporo — 3hours 5 min.
  • Take a limited express train from Sapporo on the JR Soya Main Line —2 hours 15 min.
  • Fly from Tokyo to Asahikawa Airport. 1 hour 45 min.
  • Then take a bus from Asahikawa Airport to Asahikawa Station — 35 min.
  • Take a limited express train from Asahikawa on the JR Soya Main Line — 59 min.
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