Shimokawa town hall
Location of Shimokawa in Hokkaido (Kamikawa Subprefecture)
|Prefecture||Hokkaido (Kamikawa Subprefecture)|
|• Total||644.20 km2 (248.73 sq mi)|
|• Density||6.0/km2 (15/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
Shimokawa is 90% forest: primarily oak, white birch, larch, and pine trees.
The main river in Shimokawa is the Nayoro River which is a tributary of the Teshio River (the second longest river in Hokkaido). The Nayoro River has two branches: the Sanru River (smaller) and the Panke River (larger). The Sanru River is very clear and is a spawning area for Cherry Trout. Fly fishing is very popular in Shimokawa.
Shimokawa was originally a mining town, extracting copper and gold. The mines are now exhausted and the primary industries are lumber and farming.
There are 5 lumber mills in Shimokawa which produce a total of 60,000 m³ of lumber in a year. The lumber is used both in Japan and exported to Canada, Finland, New Zealand and other places. After an area of the forest is harvested for lumber, it is always replanted with baby trees by the Forestry Union. Sometimes the union invites townspeople to help.
Olympic Ski Jumping
For the 2006 Winter Olympics, four ski jumpers who were born in Shimokawa attended (Noriaki Kasai, Takanobu Okabe, Daiki Ito and Kenshiro Ito). Until the 2014 Winter Olympics, Noriaki Kasai has participated 7 times. Takanobu Okabe has taken part in 4 Olympics and got the gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in the team tournament. Daiki Ito has participated 3 times. Yuki Ito, Kenshiro Ito and Hiroo Shima have participated once.
There are many restaurants in Shimokawa. Apollo is an Italian cafe with coffee, pasta, pizza, and other meals. Morena is an Indian soup-curry restaurant with home-made cake and fruit juices. Monja is an okonomiyaki restaurant. Manbō is a made-to-order reservation-only restaurant.
Shimokawa has one hot spring called Gomi Onsen. It is a small hotspring but has an outdoor section. It has a hotel with 30 rooms.
Shimokawa has one nursery school, one elementary school, one junior high school, and one commercial high school.
Festivals & Events
Shimokawa has 3 main festivals, and several smaller festivals, held every year. The three main festivals are as follows:
- Ice Candle Museum: For a week near the end of February, Shimokawa's main park is filled with snow sculptures and decorated with thousands of ice candles. Events are held throughout the week, and kicked off with a large outdoor BBQ party on the first day.
- Udon Festival: The last weekend in August is a two-day festival filled with events such as races, baking contests, and traditional dances. Until 2005 it was called the Homecoming Festival.
- Great Wall Festival: One afternoon in early spring, a large BBQ party with events and carnival style booths is held in Shimokawa's main park, which contains a small replica of the Great Wall of China.
Here are some of the many other festivals held annually in Shimokawa (in rough order of size):
- Arts Weekend: A weekend of photo and craft exhibitions, concerts, and traditional arts (such as Tea Ceremony).
- Culture Weekend: A weekend where many companies, offices, and factories open their doors to the public for tours.
- Every school has their own sports festival weekend (where the students compete at different sports) and a separate school festival weekend (where the students organize activities and sales for themselves and the townspeople).
- Mikoshi Parade: A Mikoshi (portable shrine) is carried through the town to drive away evil spirits. This is no easy feat, as the shrine weighs over 1 (metric) tonne.
- Marching Band Parade: Held to coincide with Shimokawa's War Memorial Day, marching bands (one from each school) parade through town, led by war veterans.