Welcome to Shiraoi, a charming town located in Iburi, Hokkaido, Japan. Established in 1867 by the feudal lords of Sendai, Shiraoi has a rich history and is home to a diverse range of cultural and natural attractions. Most of the area of the town is forested and parts lie within the Shikotsu-Tōya National Park. Let’s explore what this hidden gem has to offer.

Shiraoi, like the rest of Hokkaido, was populated by the Ainu. According to the town’s official website, the name Shiraoi means Rainbows in the Ainu language. Other sources state that the name comes from Shiraunai meaning Horse-flies. The Sendai domain established a fort in Shiraoi in 1867 and work began on Shiogama Shrine. The following year the Boshin War caused Sendai to retreat from Shiraoi and return to Sendai proper. After the revolt was put down, the government dismantled the fort in 1870. The end of the 19th century saw expansion of the town. A road was established connecting Shiraoi with Muroran, Sapporo, and Hakodate in 1873. Nineteen years later, the first railroad station was established. The villages of Shadai and Shikiu were established. Two significant events occurred during this expansion: in 1874, Mount Tarumae erupted, and in 1881, the Emperor Meiji visited.

The total area of Shiraoi is 425.72 square kilometers. The town is 28.0 kilometers East to West and 26.4 kilometers North to South. 82% of this area is forested. Shiraoi is crossed by a number of rivers running from the mountains like Mount Horohoro to the Pacific Ocean. These include Shadai River, Shiraoi River, Shikyu River, and Betsubetsu River. Mount Horohoro and Lake Kuttara are part of Shikotsu-Tōya National Park. Lake Poroto is also in the area.

Shiraoi has an oceanic climate, mild when compared to the rest of Hokkaido. The annual temperature ranges between the extremes of 33.3 °C and −20.8 °C. The average annual temperature is 7.2 °C. Shiraoi receives 1,660 millimeters of precipitation annually. This only results in 103 centimeters of snow annually. In a typical year, the snow lingers for 80 days. Accumulated snow rarely exceeding 44 centimeters. Wind velocity averages merely 1.6 meters per second, that is less than half of the neighboring Tomakomai and Muroran.

Arts and Culture:
Shiraoi has four annual festivals: Shiraoi Dosanko Winter Festival, Shiraoi Beef Festival, Shiraoi Port Festival, and Shiraoi Cheipu Festival. The Ainu Museum, commonly known as Poroto Kotan, is a natural history museum depicting a traditional Ainu village. Performers show traditional crafts and dances like the iomante rimse. Lake Kuttara, Inkura Falls, Mount Horohoro, Ayoro Beach, Ruin of the Sendai Domain Shiraoi Founding Encampment Historical Landmark, Sendai Domain Shiraoi Founding Encampment Resource Center, and Kojohama hotsprings are other points of interest.

Shiraoi has been involved in the harvest of marine products such as the Horsehair crab and konbu. Because of dwindling resources, harvesting of hair crab has been reduced to a test operation from the middle of July until the middle of August. Shiraoi introduced the raising of beef cattle from Shimane Prefecture in 1954. In 1966, Shiraoi began with the production of chicken eggs. Shiraoi boasts 550,000 chickens, and a business worth ¥2.8 billion.

Shiraoi has several stations on the Muroran Main Line: Kojōhama, Takeura, Kita-yoshihara, Hagino, and Shiraoi. Shiraoi is served by the following bus companies: Donan bus Co.,Ltd and Hokkaido Chuo Bus Co., ltd. Shiraoi is served by the following roads and highways: Hokkaidō Expressway Interchange at Shiraoi, Parking area at Hagino, National highways: Japan National Route 36, Prefectural roads: Hokkaidō Highway 86, Hokkaidō Highway 350, Hokkaidō Highway 388, Hokkaidō Highway 701, and Hokkaidō Highway 1045.

Shiraoi has several elementary schools, middle schools, and an Education Support Center.

Sister Cities:
Shiraoi has the following twin city relationships: Quesnel, Canada since 1981, Sendai, Japan since 1981, and Morita (now part of Tsugaru), Japan since 1991.

The Shadai Stallion Station is located here. Shadai Stallion Station has bought high-profile thoroughbreds for their breeding program, such as Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem.

Come and visit Shiraoi, Hokkaido, and experience the rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering local cuisine that this enchanting destination has to offer!

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