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Location of Shimizu in Hokkaido (Tokachi Subprefecture)
|Prefecture||Hokkaido (Tokachi Subprefecture)|
|• Total||402.18 km2 (155.28 sq mi)|
|• Density||25/km2 (66/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
The small town of Shimizu (清水町 Shimizu-chō?) is located at the base of the Hidaka Mountain Range in Kamikawa (Tokachi) District, Tokachi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan. The name Shimizu is taken from the Ainu word Pekerebetsu, which means bright clean river. This town of 10,243, (according to the towns 2011 census) primary source of income is through agriculture. This town, like many others in Hokkaido, is decreasing. Though what draws the visitors to this town from near and far is its modest, yet eye-catching beauty, prime location for accessing world-class ski hills in the winter, and country back roads for the cyclist in the summer.
The town of Shimizu lies within the Tokachi Subprefecture of Hokkaido, Japan. The town lies at the base of the Hidaka Mountain Range and has several towns nearby, including Shikaoi to the North, Shintoku to the West, Hidaka to the South, and Memuro to the East. The geography of the town of Shimizu is mostly flat, with a few low lying hills to the North and West.
The town of Shimizu began to settle in 1898, with a population of 99 people, working as cultivating farmers. It wasn’t until 1936 that Shimizu gained status as a town. In 1907 a railway connecting Kushiro and Asahikawa was built, thereby connecting Shimizu. At the time, two lines ran through the town: the Tokachi line, and the Tooru Hiraku line. Another improvement that helped put the town on the map was the opening of Nissho Toge, a mountain pass running through the Hidaka Mountains, which opened in 1965. This National Highway, route 274, runs all the way to Hokkaidos capital city, Sapporo.
In 1980, the towns cultural center opened, and is famous for the playing of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Every year, students from Shimizu High School practice singing the symphony, for an end of the year concert. The towns first swimming pool opened in 1983, and in 1990, both the towns library and local history museum were established.
Shimizu has roughly 440 farmers, and 14,500 ha of farmland. Dairy farming, cattle farming, and sugar beet cultivation are some of the main types of agriculture that take place in Shimizu and the surrounding area. Many people claim that there are more cows in town than people!
The town has several means of transportation for getting in and out of town. A train line runs through town connecting neighboring towns Shintoku, Memuro, and capital city of Tokachi, Obihiro. Shimizu's station name is called Tokachi Shimizu. There is also a bus which runs from Obihiro, and makes a stop in Shimizu, bringing passengers to the New Chitose Airport in Sapporo. If driving, route 274 National Highway runs through town from Kita-ku Sapporo, going as far as Shibecha, Hokkaido in the Kushiro Subprefecture. The road runs a full length of 371.8 km (231.03 mi). Another option for driving is taking the relatively new Dōtō Expressway, which starts in the town of Shimukappu, runs through Shimizu and ends in the town of Ashoro.The Expressway is also a good option if wanting to take a trip to the popular ski town of Tomamu, only a half-hour drive from Shimizu.
With the turquoise Hidaka Mountains to the West, the stunning Daisetsuzan National Park to the North, and the beautiful rolling prairies to the East, there is no lack of outdoor activities one can do. The town is in a prime location for skiers & snowboard enthusiasts alike in the winter, and becomes a cyclists & motorcyclists haven in the warmer months.
- Several ski hills are within a half-hour drive, including Tomamu Ski Hill and Memuro's Arashiyama Ski Hill. The first two are easily accessible by train.
- There are many different ways to see this part of the island, but none better than on two wheels. Peaceful country roads twist and turn through the low lying foothills and prairies. One can easily find well paved roads, some with very narrow shoulders. Cyclists riding at night should be extra careful and make sure to have proper equipment for night riding.
Places to Visit
Just a few minutes drive outside of the town center is the Tokachi Millennium Forest, which is a good place to spend a relaxed afternoon viewing the beautiful gardens, trying out some of the local produce, and local cheese, which can be tasted within a small cheese factory/store within the park. There are also several restaurants and giftshops within the park.
Also on the outskirts of town is Freude, a hotspring hotel, and restaurant.
Shimizu has several educational institutions in town including public schools grades 1-12, and a High School of Arts:
- High School:
- Shimizu High School, Hokkaido (prefectural)
- High school of arts, Hokkaido
- Junior high:
- Two schools (Shimizu, Mikage)
- Elementary school
- Two schools (Shimizu, Mikage)
In 1993, Shimizu and the town of Chelsea, Michigan began a sister city exchange program, where groups of 7th and 8th graders from Chelsea visit Japan and stay with a host family for just under two weeks.. The exchange program started in 1993 by Brian Oakley (CHS Class of 1986), and continues to this day.
Shimizu is also in connection with the JET Programme, which contracts out two ALT's to Shimizu. ALT's working for the towns board of education are hired from Michigan, and work at the towns elementary and junior high schools. JET's working for the towns high school, are hired through the Hokkaidō Prefectural Board of Education, and are not in connection with the towns sister town.