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Obihiro (帯広市, Obihiro-shi) is a city in Tokachi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. Obihiro is the only designated city in the Tokachi area. As of February 29, 2020, the city has an estimated population of 165,851. The next most populous municipality in Tokachi is the adjacent town of Otofuke, with less than a third of Obihiro's population. The city had approximately 500 foreign residents in 2008.[1] The city contains the headquarters of the Fifth Division of the Northern Army of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. It also hosts the Rally Japan World Rally Championship-event.

Random streets in Obihiro Hokkaido - Oct 17 2020 various.jpeg
Obihiro Montage.jpg
Street in Obihiro, 2020
Flag of Obihiro
Official seal of Obihiro
Location of Obihiro in Hokkaido (Tokachi Subprefecture)
Location of Obihiro in Hokkaido (Tokachi Subprefecture)
Obihiro is located in Japan
Location in Japan
Coordinates: 42°55′N 143°12′E / 42.917°N 143.200°E / 42.917; 143.200Coordinates: 42°55′N 143°12′E / 42.917°N 143.200°E / 42.917; 143.200
PrefectureHokkaido (Tokachi Subprefecture)
First official recorded1635 AD
City settledApril 1, 1933
 • MayorNorihisa Yonezawa (since April 2010)
 • Total618.94 km2 (238.97 sq mi)
 (February 29, 2020)
 • Total165,851
 • Density275/km2 (710/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+09:00 (JST)
City hall addressWest 5 South 7-1, Obihiro-shi, Hokkaidō
FlowerFritillaria camschatcensis
TreeJapanese white birch
Obihiro City-hall

In 2008, Obihiro was designated a "model environmental city" in Japan.[2]

Geography and transportationEdit

The Tokachi-Obihiro Airport is located to the south of downtown Obihiro, but is still within the city's borders. It takes 50 minutes by car or 1 hour by bus from Obihiro Station to the airport. The next major airport nearby is New Chitose Airport. From Obihiro, it takes 2 hrs 30 mins to get New Chitose Airport by train and just over 4 hours to get there by car. Both airports have direct flights to and from Haneda Airport.



Obihiro was the area first settled by Benzō Yoda in May 1883. It became a city on April 1, 1933. In 1957 the villages of Taishō and Kawanishi merged with Obihiro, bringing it to its current size.

Historical timelineEdit

1883: Benzō Yoda and his "Banseisha" pioneers arrive in Opereperekepu.[3]
1886: The Banseisha constructs the first road and two bridges.
1892: Obihiro's first post office is built.
1905: The Obihiro-Kushiro railway is completed.
1914: First electric lights installed.
1932: Midorigaoka Airport completed.
1933: Obihiro becomes a municipality. Moriharu Watanabe is the first mayor.
1945: Air-raid on Obihiro during World War II.
1949: Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine constructed.
1954: Emperor Hirohito visits Obihiro.
1960: Ōtani Junior College is built.
1966: Obihiro Station is built.
1985: Obihiro no Mori speed skating rink constructed.
1991: Hokkaido Obihiro Museum of Art is built.
1993: Population reaches 170,000 people.
1996: Tokachi Ōhashi Bridge is completed.
2009: Indoor Speed Skating Facility Completed.


Obihiro's businesses broken down by industry[4]

Obihiro, along with most of Tokachi, has a large agricultural sector that revolves around large scale farming operations. Farms within the boundaries of Obihiro have an average of approximately 24 hectares of arable land; exceeding the Hokkaido average (17.41 ha) and the national average (1.57 ha). The main crops produced are wheat, potatoes, beets, and beans, but there has also been progress in the production of nagaimo (Dioscorea polystachya) and gobō (Arctium lappa); two of Tokachi's specialty products. The headquarters of 3 nationally renowned pastry companies (Rokkatei, Ryugetsu, and Cranberry) are also located in Obihiro.


Obihiro has 26 public elementary schools and 14 public middle schools. It also has five prefectural high schools, two private high schools, and one municipal high school. The Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine is the only university in Tokachi. Due to the decreasing birth rate in the area (and across the entire nation) some elementary schools are scheduled for closing by 2012.[citation needed]


High schoolsEdit


  • Hokkaido Obihiro Hakuyo High School
  • Hokkaido Obihiro Sanjo High School
  • Hokkaido Obihiro Ryokuyo High School
  • Hokkaido Obihiro Agricultural High School
  • Hokkaido Obihiro Technical High School


  • Hokkaido Obihiro South Commercial High School


  • Obihiro Ohtani High School
  • Obihiro Kita High School



Obihiro has one of Japan's most pristine rivers flowing through its city limits. Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has chosen Obihiro's Satsunai River, which joins the Tokachi River outside of town, as the cleanest Class A river in Japan seven times since 1991.[5] It is designated as a Class A River by the Japanese government due to its importance to environmental conservation and the national economy. In the Ainu language, Satnay means "dry river", and even today, most of its 82 km (51 mi) run is shallow. The city draws most of its drinking water from the Satsunai. The biggest pollutant in the river is nitrates from fertilizer run off from all the farming operations along the river's banks. The other major river in the city is the Tokachi, but its water is not used for drinking as it has much higher pollution levels.


In 1974, a plan for the creation of an expansive city recreation space was initiated, and from 1975 to 2004 large groups of Obihiro citizens participated in "Tree Planting Festivals" (市民植樹祭). These actions have resulted in the creation of a new forest; the Obihiro no Mori (帯広の森).[6] Recently, tree planting in the forest has been limited to small projects due to a lack of space to plant more trees.


Obihiro has a humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfb) with warm summers and cold winters, very similar with the coast of New England (although the lower averages are with more extreme records).[7][8] Precipitation falls throughout the year, but is higher in late summer and early Fall.[9]

Climate data for Obihiro (1991−2020 normals, extremes 1892−present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 8.0
Average high °C (°F) −1.5
Daily mean °C (°F) −6.9
Average low °C (°F) −13.0
Record low °C (°F) −38.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 40.5
Average snowfall cm (inches) 52
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.5 mm) 6.2 5.6 8.5 9.7 10.3 9.6 11.1 12.0 11.6 8.8 8.1 7.3 108.9
Average relative humidity (%) 69 67 65 65 69 79 82 82 80 74 68 68 72
Mean monthly sunshine hours 188.2 191.5 217.9 192.9 188.8 148.2 121.9 125.2 137.8 167.6 168.2 172.0 2,020.1
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency[10]


Ban'ei horse racingEdit

Ban'ei horses at Obihiro Racecourse

Obihiro is famous for the unique style of horse racing that takes place at the city's horse racetrack. Hokkaido farmers in the 1900s had tug-of-war contests between their work horses to judge their strength and value. This gradually became a more formalized event and eventually became the racing we know today as Ban'ei horse racing. Rather than an oblong track, which most people think of when talking about horse racing, Obihiro's ban'ei track is a straight 200 m run with two hills. Large and powerful draft horses pull sleds that can weigh more than a ton while their rider whips them hard to make them go faster. The track and facilities were renovated in 2007 due to major efforts by the city government to increase the popularity of the races. One unique aspect of the track is that spectators can walk alongside the track as the horses struggle towards the finish line. Starting in 2006, the City of Obihiro has poured money into reviving this sport and considers it a part of the city's traditional culture.

Major festivalsEdit

Obihiro has three major festivals: the Flat Plain Festival, the Chrysanthemum Festival, and the Ice Festival.

The Flat Plain Festival (平原まつり, heigen matsuri)
Passing its 60th year in 2007, this festival spans 3 days in mid August during Obihiro's O-bon holiday season. The festival takes place on the downtown streets of Obihiro and includes a taiko drum performance that spans multiple city blocks with teams from all over Hokkaido, an energetic night-time parade called Yume Furu Ya (夢降夜, "The night of raining dreams") which expresses hopes for a good harvest, and a 2 hour long O-bon dance that includes an open section for anyone to jump in and dance along with all the other groups who are competing for first prize.
The Chrysanthemum Festival (菊まつり, kiku matsuri)
Held every year around the end of October, this 6 day festival celebrates an important flower in the Japanese culture. This festival features thousands of chrysanthemums on display in Obihiro's Central Park (中央公園). In 2007, the festival were held from October 30 to November 4.
Kita no Yatai in Obihiro
The Ice Festival (氷まつり, kōri matsuri)
The cold weather and ice-caked roads of Obihiro can make it hard for people to go out and have fun in the winter, but this festival provides the residents of Obihiro and all of Tokachi to get out and enjoy the white snow of the season. There are fireworks and foodstands, and a pathway lined with various snow and ice sculptures. Some of the sculptures are of funny characters such as Anpanman, but other sculptures can depict fantastic mythical figures.

Kita no YataiEdit

The Kita no Yatai (北の屋台) is an alleyway of unique foodstands that is open all year-round, and offers foods from many different countries.


Tinned wild bear meat, sold in Tokachi Mura, a shop in Obihiro, Hokkaido, Japan, May 2013

Obihiro is famous for pork meat glazed in a special sauce on rice, which is called butadon and mutton, which is called jingisukan, named after Genghis Khan. It is also famous for potatoes and dairy products, which are common produce in Tokachi. Obihiro also claims to be the origin of a dish called chuuka chirashi.[citation needed] It is also known for its high quality turnips. Wild game, including venison and bear meat, is also eaten in Obihiro.


  • Kōfuku Station, a closed station which remains a popular sightseeing attraction due its name meaning "happiness".[11]

Major city facilitiesEdit

Tokachi International Relations CenterEdit

The Tokachi International Relations Center (森の交流館・十勝, TIRC) was opened in 1996. It was created to facilitate international studies and events, academic study, and general interaction between people of different cultures and backgrounds. The establishment of the TIRC influenced the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in its decision to build the adjacent JICA Obihiro facility. Many events are now coordinated between the various organizations represented in buildings.

The TIRC offers a library room, an all-purpose gymnasium, kitchen facilities, and a large indoor "winter garden" of indoor flora. Two major events held here each year are the "Friends of the World Cookout", where over 2,000 people gather to cook and eat international food, and the "Mori no Halloween" party where over 1,000 costumed parents and children celebrate a holiday that is not native to Japan.

JICA Obihiro International CentreEdit

Tokachi International Relations Center

JICA Obihiro (Japan International Cooperation Agency/Obihiro International Centre) was established in April 1996 as a center for international cooperation activities in eastern Hokkaido. JICA carries out a variety of programmes in connection with technical cooperation with developing countries. In all, there are three organizations housed in the International Centre; Japan International Cooperation Agency, Japan International Cooperation Center, and the Northern Regions Center.

Obihiro ZooEdit

Obihiro Zoo (おびひろ動物園) opened in 1963. Construction of a new monkey facility was completed in June, 2008. It cost approximately 266 million yen (US$2.66 million)[12]

Obihiro LibraryEdit

The new Obihiro public library was opened in 2006, and currently has over 300 English language books available.

Indoor ice-skating rinkEdit

An olympic size indoor speed skating rink, Meiji Hokkaido-Tokachi Oval, has been completed on the west side of Obihiro. Its construction was controversial due to its large price tag. The tentative budget for the project was the equivalent of US$30 million.[13] It was the site for the Essent ISU World Sprint Speed Skating Championships 2010.[14]


Parts of the 2017 Asian Winter Games are hosted in Obihiro.


Shirakanba, the city's mascot

Obihiro's mascot is Shirakanba (しらかんば), who is a wooden horse that resembled a birch tree. However, unlike horses, its gender is unknown. It likes to farm on sunny days. As result, it is skilled at anything related to agriculture. It was unveiled on 25 January 2021.[15]

International sister citiesEdit

Obihiro has three international sister-cities:

While on a business trip in Alaska, a (former) teacher at Obihiro's Agricultural High School, Yasuhiko Ohzono, was asked by the mayor of Seward to create some sort of cultural exchange between the two cities. On March 21, 1967, the mayor of Obihiro sent a picture album and other materials to introduce the city to the mayor of Seward. The mayor of Seward sent a message, a coat of arms, and a medal; all of which were personally delivered by a member of the entourage of the U.S.-Japan Fishing Industry Negotiation Team in Japan at the time. Obihiro sends the Mayor of Seward a wooden carving of a bear. On January 31, 1968, the resolution made by the Seward City Council arrives. The City of Obihiro also created a resolution on March 27, 1968, the sister city agreement was signed by both sides, and exchange between the two cities began. Since the Obihiro Economic Observation Group visited Seward in September, 1971, there have been various exchanges between Seward and Obihiro. Both mayors and many citizens of both cities have participated in exchanges, and the high school student exchange program has been put on every year since the summer of 1973.

Interaction between the two cities began with Chaoyang's Economic Observation Group Visit to Obihiro on May 30, 1985. In September that same year, Obihiro sent the 15 member Northeast China Friendship and Observation Group to Chaoyang. Since then various groups have made exchange visits, agricultural trainees have been received, and there has even been exchanges of craft projects between elementary students. Since 1987, administrative and agricultural trainees have made 13 visits. In addition, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) has been sending agricultural specialists to Chaoyang. At the end of October in 1999, the mayor of Obihiro at the time, Toshifumi Sunagawa, lead the Official Friendship Visit Group to Chaoyang, and he exchanged memos regarding the signing of a Friendship City Agreement. On November 17, 2000, the mayor of Chaoyang at the time, Daicao Wang, lead a delegation to Obihiro where a Friendship City Agreement was signed with the purpose of deepening interaction between the two cities across a wide range of fields, and to promote further friendship and peace between the two cities; not to mention China and Japan. The two cities have run a high school student exchange program since 2002.

Obihiro became sister cities with Madison in October 2006. The two cities have almost the same latitude, and have similar climates. The content of the sister-city relationship has been mainly various visits to Madison regarding the field of mental health, but since the official start of the relationship there have been various fact-finding missions to and from Madison. There was even a short visit to Obihiro by two Madison area students, in August 2007. Obihiro hopes to learn more about Madison agriculture, mental health systems and facilities, and about how the University of Wisconsin–Madison runs various programs and organizations that have helped make it the university it is today. For example, the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine has shown interest in marketing ice cream and other dairy products as the Babcock Dairy does at UW–Madison.

Notable people from ObihiroEdit


  1. ^ Hokkaido Prefectural Government: 2007-2008 Change in registered Foreigners[permanent dead link] (in Japanese)
  2. ^ Tokachi Mainichi: City gets Designation as Environmental Model City Archived 2011-07-22 at the Wayback Machine (in Japanese)
  3. ^ 観光・移住_帯広十勝を知ろう_語り継がれた帯広の歴史_帯広市 (History of Obihiro, Obihiro City web site, retrieved May 27, 2008)
  4. ^ City of Obihiro: 2007 City Summary-Industry (in Japanese)
  5. ^ 国土交通省が行っている一級河川の水質調査において、平成3年から7回も清流日本一に選ばれている自慢の川である。 Archived 2011-07-22 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ City of Obihiro: Plans for the creation of the Obihiro no Mori near the Tokachi Airfield (in Japanese)
  7. ^ "Obihiro, Japan Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  8. ^ "Average Weather in Obihiro, Japan, Year Round - Weather Spark". Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  9. ^ "平年値(年・月ごとの値)". Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  10. ^ 気象庁 / 平年値(年・月ごとの値). Japan Meteorological Agency. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  11. ^ "Abandoned railway station with 'happy' name a big draw". Asia & Japan Watch. Japan: The Asahi Shimbun Company. 1 January 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-01-01. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  12. ^ Obihiro Zoo. "New Monkey House Under Construction" (in Japanese). City of Obihiro. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 建設費 約2億6600万円 建設場所 リスザル舎跡 完成 平成20年6月予定
  13. ^ "2007 Obihiro Construction Project Plans" (pdf) (in Japanese). City of Obihiro. 2007-04-02. p. 7. Retrieved 2007-12-11.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Obihiro replaces Helsinki as 2010 World Sprint Championship host". AIPS Magazine. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
  15. ^ "シンボルマーク「ピータン」". Nakasatsunai.

External linksEdit