Obihiro (帯広) is the capital - and only city - of Tokachi Subprefecture, a major agricultural area.
In 2006, the population was 171,153 and the city occupied an area of 619 km². Based on these figures it is the sixth-largest city on Hokkaidō, however the city boundaries do not encompass all of the conurbation and a large swathe of countryside is included - going all the way southwest to Mount Pipairo (1,917 metres) on the central ridge of the Hidaka Mountains. If the adjacent urban areas of Otofuke, Memuro and Makubetsu were included, the population would be at least 200,000 to 220,000 and Obihiro would be the fourth-largest city in Hokkaidō.
The city as a whole is large and spread out, though (relatively) easy to navigate. It is laid out on a grid (similar to the one in Sapporo) and intersections are signed in both Japanese and English (e.g. West 1 South 10 etc.). The north-south axis (which lies close to the city centre) is called Ōdōri. Most of the city lies in the south western quadrant.
Two main features lie diagonal to the grid: the railway line with the main JR station and Midorigaoka Park, a (slightly elevated) green hill in a basically flat city where some of the main attractions (the museum, zoo etc.) are located. The commercial centre of Obihiro, which is located between the JR Obihiro Station and Fujimaru Department Store, is small and walkable, though most of the larger drive-in shopping areas are outside the centre.
Architecturally unremarkable except for a few grandiose kitsch pachinko (pin ball) palaces and bridal parlors, it appears at first sight a city of car dealers and cake shops, but with a feeling of prosperity not shared by some other smaller Hokkaido cities.
Obihiro was founded by settlers from Honshu in 1883. (See also the History of Tokachi). It was designated as a city in 1933. In 1957 the outlying villages of Kawanishi and Taishō were joined to Obihiro, extending the city out to the southwest as far as the main ridge of the Hidaka Mountain range.
Places of interest
- Hokkaido Obihiro Museum of Art (北海道立帯広美術館) Midorigaoka-koen, Midorigaoka 2, ☎ 0155 22 6963, fax 0155 22 4233 
- Iwanai Gorge (岩内仙狭 Iwanai senkyō) Scenic area located in southwest of the city, close to the Hidaka Mountains.
- Glücks Königreich (グリュック王国, 'Happiness Kingdom') Kōfuku-chō. 'Medieval' German theme park, featuring the Saxon Bückeburg Castle (full-size replica including a hotel) and (Tales of) Grimm Town. Operated from 1989 to 2001, closed in 2002. Now (apparently) abandoned, the main buildings are visible from Tokachi-Obihiro Airport. A sign remains on Route 236, south of Kōfuku (see right).
- Kōfuku Station (幸福駅 Kōfuku eki) Higashi 1, Kōfuku-chō. Despite the discontinued Hiroo railway line, Kofuku Station (and train) remain. The name means 'Happiness'. About 30 minutes south of the city centre.
- Kawahara House (川原邸 Kawahara tei) Kisen 61-13, Kawanishi-chō, ☎ 0155 53 4780. House of the Kawahara family who came to Tokachi from Toyama in the Meiji period. Built in 1933 in traditional Shoin style. In 2005 it was moved 90 metres south to its present location where it is now part of the Tokachi Agricultural Museum (とかち大田園空間博物館 Tokachi Denen Kukan Hakubutsukan). Close to the north side of Aikoku Bridge.
- Manabe Garden (真鍋庭園) Higashi 2-6, Inada-chō.
- Obihiro Centennial Memorial Hall (帯広百年記念館 Obihiro Hyakunen Kinenkan) Midorigaoka-koen, Midorigaoka 2, ☎ 0155 24 6963  City historical and natural history museum. Exhibits cover the formation of the Tokachi Plain, archaeology from the Palaeolithic to the Satsumon, Ainu culture in the 19th and 20th centuries, the settlement of Tokachi from the 1880s onwards and life in the 'pioneer days' (also known as the 'reclamation period'), and present-day agriculture. Built in 1982.
- Obihiro Racecourse (帯広競馬場) Nishi 13, Minami 9, ☎ 0155 34 0825 . Obihiro has a unique type of draught horse racing called Banei (ばんえい). The horses drag steel 'sleighs', each weighing around 500 kilograms, along a 200 metre sand track with two humps in the middle of the course. The sport originated in a test of strength for farm animals. Most of the horses are a crossbreed of French Percherons and Bretons and Belgian horses.
- Obihiro Shrine (帯広神社 Obihiro Jinja) Higashi 3, Minami 2-1 . Founded in 1910. In the adjoining grounds of the Tokachi Gokoku Shrine (十勝護国神社 Tokachi Gokoku Jinja) there is a memorial to the tanka poetess Fumiko Nakajo.
- Obihiro Zoo (帯広動物園 Obihiro Dōbutsuen), Midorigaoka-koen, Midorigaoka 2, ☎ 0155 24 2437, fax 0155 24 2439  Open from 28 April until 4 November.
- Obihiro Wild Flower Garden (帯広市野草園) Midorigaoka-koen, Midorigaoka 2, ☎ 0155 24 2434  Open from May until October.
- Shichiku Garden (紫竹ガーデン) Nishi 4-107, Biei-cho, ☎ 0155 60 2377 . 'English'-style garden open end April to end October. Restaurant and shop open all year round. About 30 minutes from the city centre.
- Tokachi Big Bridge (十勝大橋)  A suspension bridge, with 68 metre high columns and massive girders, which crosses the Tokachi River from Obihiro City on the south side to Otofuke Town on the north. Completed in 1996, it is illuminated at night, in different colours according to the season.
- Yachiyo Farm (八千代ファーム) Nishi 4-190, Yachiyo-chō. Dairy farm of 981 hectares open to the public, includes restaurant and accommodation.
- Ice Festival (氷まつり Kōri matsuri), including ice sculptures (late January)
- Heigen Festival (平原まつり Heigen matsuri), including bon dances (mid August)
- Chrysanthemum Festival (菊まつり Kiku matsuri) (early November)
Outdoor activities and sports
Obihiro is located close to the Hidaka and Daisetsuzan mountains. There are a range of facilities for outdoor activities: mountain trekking, horse riding, white-water rafting, kayaking, swimming, tennis, 'park golf' etc. during the summer, and skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing and skating etc. during the winter.
- Curlingplex (カールプレックス) Higashi 1-121-12, Inada-chō, ☎/fax 0155 67 7234. Curling rink: four sheets. All year round indoor facility. Open every day 06.00-22.00.
- D-J Ranch (D−J ランチ) ☎ 0155 60 2676 Daiichi kisen 22, Iwanai-chō,  Western-style horse riding, about 30 minutes from the city centre
- Dean's Stable ☎ 0155 60 2220  Western-style horse riding, about 30 minutes from the city centre
- Obihiro no Mori Sports Park (帯広の森運動公園) Nishi 20, Minami 6. Located in Obihiro no Mori in the western Obihiro. Includes a baseball stadium, gymnasium, track and field stadium, ice hockey rinks, skating rink, swimming pool, 'park' golf, tennis, and archery facilities.
- Tennis courts are available throughout the city, including Minami machi, Jiyugaoka), Midorigaoka, Tokachigawa Riverside Park, Satsunaigawa Riverside Family Sports Park, Nishi Obihiro Park, and the racetrack sports center inside the horse racetrack. Most of these cannot be booked in advance, however there is a telephone number for the 12 courts at the racetrack (0155 35 6150).
- Tokachi Hakuyu Riding Club (十勝柏友会乗馬クラブ) Minami 13-50, ☎ 0155 48 8222 or 0155 48 3819 . Horse riding club.
Cinemas, theatres, concert halls and galleries
- Cinema Taiyo (シネマ太陽帯広) Nishi 3, Minami 7, ☎ 0155 20 1525  Road shows.
- Cine Tokachi (CINEとかち) Prince Gekijo, Nishi 1, Minami 9, 
- Obihiro Shimin Bunka Hall (帯広市民文化ホール) Nishi ５, Minami 11, ☎ 0155 238111, located about 5 minutes by foot from the JR Obihiro station. Concerts and recitals etc.
- Ticket Pia (チケットぴあ) ☎ 0155 24 2101. Ticket agent in Fujimaru Department Store.
- Dutchwest Japan (ダッチウエスト) Ōdōri, Minami 28-4 ☎ 0155 24 6085 . Wood stoves and fireplaces etc.
- Earth Defence Shop (地球防衛商店) Higashi 2, Minami 14-1, tel 0155 29 2553 . Producers of bio-diesel from used cooking oil.
- Esta Obihiro (エスタ帯広) Nishi 2, Minami 12 (JR Obihiro Station), tel 0155 23 2181 . Food shopping malls on the east and west sides of Obihiro Station.
- Fujimaru Department Store (藤丸) Nishi 2, Minami 8-1, ☎ 0155 24 2101 10.00 to 19.00 . Nine floor department store in the centre of the city. Food on the basement floor.
- Harukoma Bakery (春駒ベーカリー) Nishi 19, Minami 5-45-18, ☎ 0155 38 5311  Open 08.30 to 19.00. Closed Sundays and 3rd Monday of the month. On Harukoma dōri.
- The Honya-san WOW-ten Nishi 4, Minami 29-1, ☎ 0155 28 2111  Open 10.00 to 22.00. National Kokudo Chiriin topographical maps of Hokkaido at 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 for trekking.
- Inada-chō Minami Shopping Area (稲田町南) Includes Homac (ホーマック), Hyakuman Volt (100万ボルト), Ichimaru, Ito-Yokado 'superstore' (イトーヨーカドー), Nitori (ニトリ), Uniqlo (ユニクロ) and other shops. About 10 minutes south of the city centre.
- Inter Sports Nishi 3, Kita 2-19, ☎ 0155 24 4995. Sports shop.
- Kevin's Higashi 2-4-1, Iwanai-chō, ☎ 090 7512 2510 (Akiko Suematsu). Small organic vegetable farm near Nakasatsunai.
- Kōrin Nōen Takusei 156, ☎ 0155 60 2567. Goat's cheese, sold in Esta (JR Obihiro Station) and Tokachi-Obihiro Airport.
- Kuraya Nishi 2, Minami 1-6, tel 0155 24 3966. Sake and wine shop. Open 10.00 to 20.00, Sundays and holidays 10.00 to 19.00.
- Makino Suisan (牧野水産）Nishi 2, Minami 8-18, ☎ 0155 23 6078. Fishmonger. Located just off the Hirokoji (広小路) covered shopping street. Close to Fujimaru Department Store in the city centre.
- Natural Coco (ナチュラルココ）Nishi 18, Minami 5-31-1, ☎ 0155 62 2887 , Health foods, organic vegetables etc. and café. (Natural Coco also have a branch in Esta, the shopping area off the west concourse of JR Obihiro Station,)
- Obihiro no Mori Citizen's Farm Morning Market (帯広の森 市民農園 朝市) Nishi 22, Minami 6-6-2, ☎ 0155 36 8095, Sundays only, June to October from 06.00.
- Outdoor Plaza Takeda (アウトドアプラザタケダ) Higashi 5-jo, Minami 5-11, ☎ 0155 23 7761. Outdoor sports and clothes shop, especially for fishing. On Denshin-dōri.
- Sansui (山水) Shirakaba 16, Nishi 15-7, ☎ 0155 38 2240 . Specialized sports shop for hill walking, mountaineering, ski mountaineering, Telemark, snow shoeing etc. Open 13.00 to 20.00.
- K Smith (ケイ・スミス）Nishi 2, Minami 16-2, ☎ 0155 24 0255 , Original jewellery shop based on Obihiro with branches in Yokohama and Nagoya. Open everyday.
- Tokachi Bagel (十勝ベーグル) Higashi 1, Minami 5-19, ☎ 0155 20 6688  Open 11.00 to 15.00. Bagels.
- Total Foods (トータルフーズ）Nishi 17, Minami 5-2. Closed Sundays, ☎ 0155 34 1201  Small supermarket selling in large quantities, e.g. 5-litre tins of Spanish olive oil etc.
- Yabuta Farm (やぶ田 Farm) Kisen 22-9, Aikoku-chō, ☎ 0155 64 4263  Five hectare organic vegetable farm and shop. Open everyday 10.00 until 13.00, June until end October.
Places to eat and drink
Hotels and other accommodation
Onsen (hot spring baths)
Tokachi is seismically active so there are many hot springs, occurring naturally and also man-made (bored). Almost all onsen (温泉) in Obihiro will have a mōru bath. This type, which apparently doesn't occur elsewhere in Japan, contains traces of organic material from peat bogs. (The word mōru is a loan word from the German (das Moor) for bog.) Onsen in Obihiro include:
- Oberiberi Onsen Suikōen (オベリベリ温泉 水光園) Higashi 10, Minami 5, ☎ 0155 23 4700, Open everyday 11.00 to 23.00. Modern baths, symmetrical (separate but equal) arrangements for men and women including rotenburo (outdoor baths), infra-red sauna, herbal sauna etc. Entry 390 yen. Temperature 45.3°C.
- Jiyugaoka Onsen (自由が丘温泉 Jiyugaoka Onsen) Jiyugaoka 4, ☎ 0155 35 1126. Open 11.00 to 01.00.
- Pearl Onsen (パール温泉) Midorigaoka 8, ☎ 0155 34 1126. Open 11.00 to 02.00.
Hot spring baths are also available in many hotels.
JR Obihiro Station ☎ 0155 23 8176. Obihiro is on the main JR Nemuro line from Sapporo to Kushiro. There are trains to Sapporo (207 km, 2:15 hours), Asahikawa (183 km, 3:30 hours), Hakodate (461 km, 6:30 hours), and Kushiro (120 km, 1:45 hours).
In addition to Obihiro itself, there are also JR Nemuro line stations at Nishi-Obihiro (西帯広) and Hakurindai (柏林台).
Long distance buses from Obihiro to Sapporo and other cities are operated by various bus companies (Chuo Bus ☎ 011 231 0600, Obihiro Station Bus ☎ 0155 23 3489, Chuo Bus Oyachi ☎ 011 891 6388). Buses leave from in front of the JR Obihiro Station.
Local buses are available though services are less frequent than on the more densely populated island of Honshu.
A car is an ideal means of travel in a part of Japan where all the main attractions are outside the cities . 'Rentacar' companies are represented at Tokachi Obihiro airport: Toyota ☎ 0155 64 5210, Nippon ☎ 0155 64 5065, Nissan ☎ 0155 64 5323, Mazda ☎ 0155 64 5600, Orix ☎ 0155 64 5543.
- Tokachi Tourist Information Esta Shopping Mall, JR Obihiro Station. Mainly Japanese, but they have a number of pamplets and maps in English.
- Obihiro City Library (帯広市図書館) Nishi 2, Minami 14-3-1, ☎ 0155 22 4700  Obihiro's main library, located next to the JR station, has English-language newspapers, DVD and tape viewing consoles, internet enabled computers etc. but no WiFi. There is a room on the second floor devoted to the books, photographs and memorabilia of the poet Fumiko Nakajo (1923-54). Many books (especially a collection of foreign-language works about the Ainu) can only be read inside the library. Free parking for up to three hours.
- International and Domestic Relations Department (帯広市 親善交流課) 3rd Floor, Obihiro City Hall, Nishi 5, Minami 7-1, ☎ 0155 65 4133  Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Information in English for foreign residents.
- Tokachi International Relations Center (TIRC) (森の交流館・十勝) Nishi 20, Minami ６, Obihiro ☎ 0155 34 0122  Established in 1996 adjacent to the Obihiro center of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Library and resource centre etc. Facility run by the International and Domestic Relations Department (above).
- FM Wing Higashi 2-11-1, Minami 11-1, ☎ 0155 25 5770 . 'Citizen radio' on 76.1 MHz.
- Hokkaidō Shimbun Obihiro Branch (北海道新聞 Hokkaidō Shimbun) Nishi 4, Minami 9-1, ☎ 0155 24 2151 . Branch of Sapporo newspaper.
- JOWM Obihiro STV Radio (STVラジオ) 1071 kHz 
- NHK (ＮＨＫ帯広放送局) Nishi 5, Minami 7-2-2, ☎ 0155 23 3111 . National television and radio broadcaster.
- Tokachi Mainichi Newspaper (十勝毎日新聞 Tokachi Mainichi Shimbun) Higashi 8-2, Minami 1, ☎ 0155 22 2121  The daily newspaper of Obihiro and Tokachi Subprefecture was established in 1919 and has a circulation of approximately 90,000.
- ADSL NTT offer an ADSL (through designated ISPs) for telephone subscribers within approximately five kilometres of a telephone exchange . Large areas of the countryside have no service.
- Cable Obihiro City Cable Television (OCTV) offer a cable internet service called RunLan . This is only available in central Obihiro.
- WiFi There are six Yahoo BB WiFi Mobile Points in Obihiro .
- Five of these are in branches of McDonalds (four of them inside large supermarkets and shopping centres):
- Itō Yokadō (イトーヨーカドー) Nishi 10-1, Minami ☎ 0155 49 2351 
- Nagasakiya (長崎屋) Nishi 4, Minami 12-3, ☎ 0155 22 1271 
- Pōsful (ポスフール) Nishi 5, Minami 20-1, ☎ 0155 28 2051 
- Minamino Shopping Town (みなみ野ショッピングタウン) Higashi 1-1-5, Minami no Mori, ☎ 0155 49 3638 
- McDonald's (Hakurindai) (柏林台) Nishi 18, Minami 3-27-36, ☎ 0155 33 8933 
- In addition the lobby of the Obihiro Tokyu Inn (東急イン Nishi 1, Minami 11-2 ☎ 0155 27 0109) has a Yahoo BB mobile point .
- Flow Motion café offer free wifi access. They are located near Nagasakiya: Nishi 5, Minami 13-11, tel 0155 21 5506 . Open from 11.00 to 20.00, closed Tuesdays.
- Hotels Some hotels have ethernet connections in the bedrooms.
Hospitals and clinics
Local government and other organizations
City Hall Nishi 5, Minami 7-1, Obihiro-shi 080-8670 ☎ 0155 24 4111 Official website
Obihiro has three 'sister cities': Seward in Alaska (USA), Madison in Wisconsin (USA), and Chaoyang in Liaoning (People's Republic of China).
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force 5th Brigade (陸上自衛隊 Rikujō Jieitai)
JICA Obihiro International Centre Nishi 20-1-2 Minami 6, ☎ 0155 35 1210 . Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (帯広畜産大学 Obihiro Chikusan Daigaku) Inada-cho, ☎ 0155 49 5216 English page
- Tokachi International Association (March 2007) Tokachi Living Guide Obihiro
|Obihiro and the districts, towns and villages of Tokachi Subprefecture|
Obihiro City • Ashoro District: Ashoro • Rikubetsu • Hiroo District: Hiroo • Taiki • Kamikawa District: Shimizu • Shintoku • Kasai District: Memuro • Nakasatsunai • Sarabetsu • Katō District: Kamishihoro • Otofuke • Shihoro • Shikaoi • Nakagawa District: Honbetsu • Ikeda • Makubetsu • Toyokoro • Tokachi District: Urahoro