Yoichi is a coastal town home to the Yoichi distillery owned by Nikka Whisky. The town is famous for its fruit, particularly apples, and is becoming increasingly popular as a wine region. Located on the southeastern edge of the Shakotan Peninsula and facing the Sea of Japan, Yoichi provides an array of experiences perfectly suited for a full day trip.
Our favourite time of year to visit Yoichi is through the summer and autumn period between June and October as fruit picking is aplenty. However, spring is an equally beautiful time to visit due to the abundance of blooming cherry trees.
Car access from Niseko is extremely convenient and so we recommending hiring a car. The journey takes approximately an hour via National Route 5. Access is also possible by train or bus.
Yoichi was one of the first towns to grow apples in Japan. Today, the town produces strawberries, cherries, peaches, plums, prunes, blueberries, grapes, pears and much more. Fruit picking can be enjoyed from early summer through to autumn. There are countless fruit picking orchards to choose from, and for a small fee most will allow you to wander freely and eat as much fruit as you like.
We recommend paying a visit to Yamamoto Sightseeing Orchard or Very Berry Farm Ueda, a grower of certified organic berries, grapes and other fruits. Alternatively, a quick drive around the town will reveal there are countless orchards to stumble upon. If you don't fancy picking fruit yourself, you can pick up punnets of cherries at roadside stalls.
Nearby Niki Town also has a fantastic child focused fruit park called Fruit Park Niki. Kids can try a hand at indoor bouldering, or play in the outdoor playground equipped with a 153 metre jumbo slide (adults also allowed). Pack a picnic or dine at the onsite cafe, and you could easily spend a few hours here soaking up scenic views of Yoichi Bay.
A great outdoor sports area and kids playground also lives in Niki town called Fureai Yutopia Park. The park is complete with a park golf course, tennis courts, BBQ facilities, baseball field, basketball court and amazing wooden playground complete with bridges, climbing nets and walking logs.
Located on National Highway 299, enjoy a visit to the Michi-no-Eki (Roadside Rest Area), Space Apple Yoichi. Here you will find the Yoichi Space Museum "Space Dome", a tribute to Yoichi born and raised astronaut, Mamoru Mori (the first Japanese scientist-astronaut). The exhibition area features a digital planetarium and 3D theatre. Witness a scale model of the Hubble space telescope, and purchase some "space food" from the souvenir shop.
Nearby cafe, cafe COMO, is a tasty and affordable lunch option. Enjoy a coffee and baguette for around ¥1,000. English menu available.
For a wonderful, casual Italian lunch or dinner option, consider visiting Farm Restaurant Yoicchini. The menu focuses on highlighting seasonal, Yoichi ingredients, paired with natural wines.
Nikka Whiskey, one of Japan's top whiskey makers, has its main distillery in Yoichi. The distillery is only a 3 minute walk from the museum, and focuses on the history of the company and the life of its founder. Find interesting displays throughout the distillery museum, and enjoy a free tasting at the end. Admission is free, and guided or self-guided tour options are available.
If exploring Yoichi's wineries sounds more like your ideal afternoon, the town has put together a great winery guide resource here.