As all true railroad aficionados know, before the golden age of steam, horse-drawn wagonways were the preferred method of hauling heavy loads, and long before the advent of the electric trolley car, it was horse-drawn trams or horsecars that provided the main source of urban public transport. Mostly we know about this from history books, and can only imagine what it was like to glide along a tramway to the clip clop beat of a horse’s hooves. There is one location in Hokkaido though, where visitors can enjoy a nostalgic trip back in time with a ride on a horse-drawn tram.
Kaitaku-no-Mura, or “pioneers village” is an open air museum in Sapporo’s Nopporo Forest Park. Also called the “Historical Village of Hokkaido”, this fine educational establishment holds a large number of reconstructed wooden and stone buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The museum was created to provide a record of life in the farms, villages and frontier towns of Hokkaido’s pioneering age. 52 buildings have been reconstructed and fully restored around the site, with lifestyle displays and hands-on participation in traditional arts and crafts. Harvest festivals are also held in the autumn and there is a restaurant serving traditional Hokkaido meals on site. One of the museum’s most endearing features, however, is the horse-drawn tram that takes visitors on romantic rides along the village’s main street.
The Kaitaku-no-Mura tramway is modelled on the actual horse-drawn tramline that operated in Sapporo from 1909 – 1918, and it is one of the most popular features of the village. A one-way ride is 250 yen for adults and 100 yen for children. The ride runs from early April to November, and in the snowy winter months it is replaced by a horse-drawn sleigh.
Admission to the village is 800 yen for adults, 600 yen for students and free for seniors, people with disabilities, Hokkaido resident exchange students, and children of Junior High age or younger. From May to September this year the park is open from 9.00 – 17.00 with last entry at 16.30. From October to April of next year the park will be open from 9.00 – 16.30 with last entry at 16.00. The Village is a 15 minute bus ride from Shin-Sapporo Station on bus #22 bound for Kaitaku-no-Mura. To get to Shin-Sapporo Station from Sapporo Station you can take the JR Chitose Line or the Subway Tozai Line.
Hokkaido Kaitaku-no-Mura also offers a free English tour with volunteer guides for overseas visitors who apply for the service at least one week in advance. For further details of the free English tour check the official website or email info[at]kaitaku.or.jp.
Article by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.