Hokkaido Kaitaku no Mura is a golden opportunity to explore Japanese history and earn some otaku cred.

During her recent travels through Hokkaido Prefecture, our Japanese-language reporter Saya Togashi visited the site of the worst bear attack in Japanese history. Her trip wasn’t all about the struggle between humanity and wild animals, though, as she also stopped by Hokkaido Kaitaku no Mura, or “Hokkaido Pioneering Village,” in Sapporo.

The open-air museum features more than 50 historical buildings, relocated to or reconstructed at the site, and guests can go inside and explore almost all of them. In addition to history buffs, Kaitaku no Mura has recently been seeing increased interest from anime and manga fans, as several of the buildings were used as models for location in historical adventure series Golden Kamuy.

As a big fan of the series, Saya was hoping to see everything Kaitaku no Mura has to offer. However, it turns out it’s a very big place, so if you find yourself running short on time while you’re there, here are her top five recommendations.

5. Kondo Clinic

Hokkaido is Japan’s northernmost prefecture, and this clinic was built in 1900 when doctor Seikichi Kondo moved from the port city of Hakodate to the smaller town of Furubira.

The first floor of the wooden structure contains examination, operating, and waiting rooms, while the second floor was the doctor’s living space.

The interior has been amazingly well preserved, as though time simply stopped, freezing everything in the condition it was a century ago. It’s also an exact match to the clinic where Golden Kamuy’s Kano Ienaga receives treatments for her injuries.

4. Yamamoto Barber Shop

Originally located along a walking path that led to a Shinto shrine, this barber shop went through multiple owners after one Mr. Yamamoto founded it.

“Yamamoto” will instantly ring a bell to Golden Kamuy fans, since there’s a barber shop with the exact same name in the series.

▼ It looks peaceful here, but this was the site of a fierce fight between Tamotsu and Umakichi.

3. Urakawa Government Building

This building was originally constructed in 1919, as the Japanese government set up facilities to administer the developing network of new communities being established in Hokkaido. Though some of Kaitaku no Mura’s buildings only allow you to access the first floor, you can head upstairs here.

To Golden Kamuy fans, though, the building will be mor recognizable as the model for the Sapporo World Hotel, setting of the “Murder Hotel” arc of the series.

2. Hirosue Photo Studio

This is a reconstruction of a photo studio that was in operation in Iwamizawa from the Taisho era (which ended in 1926) up to 1958. Like many building designed in that period, architecturally it’s a mix of Western and Japanese elements.

The first floor seems to have been a living space, with the second floor’s slanted roof and ample sunlight being the photo space, as seen in Golden Kamuy when a number of the cast members get their picture taken thre.

1. Fukushi Family Residence

Narutoyo Fukushi was a shipbuilder, interpreter, meteorologist, and surveyor, and this was his family’s home from the middle of the Meiji period (1868-1912) until 1922. Within Golden Kamuy, though, it’s the hideout used by Toshizo Hijikata and his allies.

That concludes Saya’s top five, but again, she recommends seeing as much as you have time for at Kaitaku no Mura, with some of the other highlights of her visit being the soba shop (which still serves noodles if you’re hungry)…

…and the ryokan inn.

But rather than try to cram in more than you can comfortably see, it’s best to spend as much time as you like in each building, since you’ve got decades and decades of history to soak up.

Location information
Hokkaido Kaitaku no Mura / 北海道開拓の村
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo-shi, Atsubetsu-ku, Atsubetsu-cho, Konopporo 50-1
Addmission 800 yen (adults), 600 yen (high school/university students), free for junior-high and younger children
Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (May-September), 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (October-April)
Closed Mondays

Photos © SoraNews24
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