Esashi, Hokkaido (Hiyama)

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This article is about the town in Hiyama Subprefecture, Hokkaido. For the town in Sōya Subprefecture, Hokkaido, see Esashi, Hokkaido (Sōya).
Esashi
江差町
Town
Location of Esashi in Hokkaido (Hiyama Subprefecture)
Location of Esashi in Hokkaido (Hiyama Subprefecture)
Esashi is located in Japan
Esashi
Esashi
Location in Japan
Coordinates: 41°52′N 140°8′E / 41.867°N 140.133°E / 41.867; 140.133Coordinates: 41°52′N 140°8′E / 41.867°N 140.133°E / 41.867; 140.133
Country Japan
Region Hokkaido
Prefecture Hokkaido (Hiyama Subprefecture)
District Hiyama
Area
 • Total 109.57 km2 (42.31 sq mi)
Population (March, 2008)
 • Total 9,570
 • Density 87/km2 (230/sq mi)
Time zone Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
Symbols
- Tree Thujopsis
- Flower Japanese Rose
Address 193-1 Aza-Nakauta-chō, Esashi-chō, Hiyama-gun, Hokkaidō
043-8560
Phone number 0139-52-1020
Website Town of Esashi

Esashi (江差町 Esashi-chō?) is a town in Hiyama District, Hiyama Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. It is the capital of Hiyama Subprefecture.

One of the oldest towns in Hokkaido, the name Esashi comes from the Ainu word for konbu, a type of edible kelp well known in Japan. It is the birthplace of a folk music tradition called Esashi oiwake.

Geography[edit]

Esashi is a district and port town located on the western seaboard of Hokkaido on the Assabugawa river, facing the Sea of Japan. Its eastern part is mountainous. The town is bordered by the municipalities of Kaminokuni, Assabu and Otobe. It has a ferry connection to Okushiri island. The rail link was discontinued in 2014; Esashi Station was the terminus of the Esashi Line.[1]

Kamome Island in the town is part of Hiyama Prefectural Natural Park.

Climate[edit]

Esashi has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with far less snow in winter than elsewhere in Hokkaido due to the influence of the warming tsushima-kairyo ocean current.

Climate data for Esashi
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 1.0
(33.8)
1.2
(34.2)
4.7
(40.5)
10.5
(50.9)
14.9
(58.8)
18.9
(66)
22.9
(73.2)
25.9
(78.6)
22.1
(71.8)
16.2
(61.2)
9.7
(49.5)
4.0
(39.2)
12.67
(54.81)
Daily mean °C (°F) −1.4
(29.5)
−1.3
(29.7)
1.9
(35.4)
7.1
(44.8)
11.4
(52.5)
15.5
(59.9)
19.8
(67.6)
22.3
(72.1)
18.6
(65.5)
12.8
(55)
6.7
(44.1)
1.4
(34.5)
9.57
(49.22)
Average low °C (°F) −3.9
(25)
−3.9
(25)
−0.9
(30.4)
3.7
(38.7)
8.2
(46.8)
12.5
(54.5)
17.1
(62.8)
19.5
(67.1)
15.2
(59.4)
9.2
(48.6)
3.6
(38.5)
−1.2
(29.8)
6.59
(43.88)
Precipitation mm (inches) 98.4
(3.874)
68.7
(2.705)
65.3
(2.571)
83.3
(3.28)
81.2
(3.197)
79.5
(3.13)
130.9
(5.154)
141.7
(5.579)
149.4
(5.882)
103.5
(4.075)
107.8
(4.244)
99.2
(3.906)
1,208.9
(47.597)
Snowfall cm (inches) 57
(22.4)
40
(15.7)
19
(7.5)
1
(0.4)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
6
(2.4)
30
(11.8)
153
(60.2)
 % humidity 71 69 68 72 78 82 84 81 74 69 68 70 73.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 37.2 60.2 130.9 173.0 181.1 163.1 149.3 165.4 166.8 147.8 69.1 34.4 1,478.3
Source: NOAA (1961-1990) [2]

Culture[edit]

The area is home to Esashi Oiwake, a traditional Japanese folk music derived from mago-uta verses from Shinshu which spread throughout Japan during the Edo era and have become an Esashi art form.[3] The district holds a national oiwake convention each September. The oiwake musician 青坂満 comes from Esashi.

The ubagami-daijingu dogyo festival, based around the ubagami-daijingu shrine, is celebrated in August.

Esashi was the subject of the 1992 single Esashi love-song by Yuka Õne.

The town also has a celebrated historical dance: Doba Shishimai. The dance's three acts include a Shinto ritual dance of three fawns, a pestle-swinging dance and a dance of hinds quarreling over a fawn.[4]

Esashi has an official sister town, Notogawa (now part of Higashiõmi city) in Shiga prefecture. It also has official friendship status with Suzu city in Ishikawa prefecture.

History[edit]

In the Edo period, Esashi grew wealthy as a herring fishing town. The town's prosperity coined a saying, "Even Edo is not as busy as Esashi in May" and visitors to the town described the quantity of herring being so great that it turned the color of the sea white.

Several Meiji-era residences of those who grew wealthy on the trade are preserved in the town today, including the Sekikawa family country house and the Nakamura family house. The majority of Esashi's historic buildings are located on Esashi Inishie Road.

The fisheries failed around the turn of end of the 19th century and the town tried to replace its major industry with tourism. The town advertised itself using the Min'yo classical Japanese folk song, the main part of which was originally from the village of Oiwake in central Japan, but became known as Esashi Oiwake as the town's version gained renown.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 江差線木古内—江差間が廃止される [Esashi Line section between Kikonai and Esashi closes]. Japan Railfan Magazine Online (in Japanese). Japan: Koyusha Co., Ltd. May 12, 2014. Retrieved May 13, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Esashu Climate Normals 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved December 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ Japan Foundation Information Centre, loaded 15 May 2007
  4. ^ Esashi Official Website, loaded 15 March 2007
  5. ^ The International Shakuhachi Society, loaded 15 March 2007

External links[edit]

Media related to Esashi, Hokkaidō (Hiyama) at Wikimedia Commons