|Hokkaido (Shiribeshi Subprefecture)|
|Prefecture||Hokkaido (Shiribeshi Subprefecture)|
|• Total||70.64 km2 (27.27 sq mi)|
|• Density||220/km2 (580/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
As of 2008, the town has an estimated population of 15,700. The total area is 70.64 km².
Iwanai is one of the oldest towns in the region. Unlike many Hokkaido towns, it predates the Meiji Restoration, having started as a seasonal fishing location c. 1450, and developing into a year-round village in the mid-18th century. (Its official founding date is 1751.) Citizens of Iwanai whose families have been native for many generations have a peculiar "fisherman" accent to their Japanese, distinct to others living in the region. (Most Hokkaido citizens speak Kanto, or Tokyo region, dialect; their ancestors emigrated from the Kanto region in the late 19th century.)
Unfortunately, a massive fire in 1954 destroyed most of the traditional buildings, as they were mostly wooden structures. Modern Iwanai is much more Western in style, although there are still extensive Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples intact or rebuilt in the traditional fashion. The town also has a large shrine festival every July.
Today Iwanai still has a heavy fishing industry, along with farming in the local region. It also has skiing in winter. Although the local slopes are rougher than those of nearby Kutchan, the bay is visible from the slopes. The town is also well known in the region for its sushi restaurants.
Media related to Iwanai, Hokkaidō at Wikimedia Commons
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