“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer. Well, I’m ready. What am I to say?”
Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables
What a perfect quote to sum up how I feel about the wide open spaces of Hokkaido.
If you haven’t heard of her, Anne Shirley is the heroine of the series of books by Lucy Maude Montgomery. The setting of the stories is in the east coast of Canada on Prince Edward Island.
I’ve never been there, but I imagine it’s like the rural and picturesque parts of Hokkaido.
Two hours northeast from Sapporo, you’ll come into the Sorachi Area. Honestly, there’s nothing much in the area. Other than what you would see in normal suburban towns filled with shops and homes, you’ll see stretches and stretches of fields and farmlands.
However, if you’re a fan of Anne of Green Gables, one of the places to see in the Sorachi area is Canadian World Park in the city Ashibetsu.
Again, I have to say that there’s really not much to do here.
Canadian World Park is ostensibly a park built in the 1990s to replicate parts of Prince Edward Island. Ashibetsu is the sister city of the province’s capital city, Charlottetown. Ashibetsu has roots in the coal-mining industry, but lost a lot of its economy when that industry began to shut down. The theme park was meant to promote tourism in the area to bolster the economy.
Unfortunately, the park has long been abandoned so there are no tenants or stores in the area–not even a souvenir shop! This is unbelievable when you live in a souvenir crazy country.
What it is is a nice park with some Victorian architecture that you won’t normally see in Japan. The park is huge and it starts off with a reproduction of a station named Kensington. We happened to park in this area and took the rambling path down into the center. When we went, most of the tourists actually drove to center parking lot.
Again, there’s really nothing in this part of the park but the exterior of buildings. It looks exactly like the main square of a small Canadian town. One of the buildings had a diorama of the park and information about Charlottetown. There are also bathrooms in the building that you could use.
If you come in from the Kensington side, the “church” is also visible. However, it’s only an exterior building. You can’t really go inside, but you can take photos of it from outside.
Once you go through the station, there is a nice path that will take you to a tower. This tower is a replica of the real one that is in Charlottetown, but I forgot the name of it. You can go up into the tower so that you can see the view from above–only stairs, though, and they get quite steep. If you can make it up there, the views are fantastic.
For me, the interest I have is in seeing the reconstruction of the world of Avonlea. I loved Anne of Green Gables when I was growing up, so the nostalgia and getting to see the places I read about is what drew me to the area.
There are a few building here and there that are supposed to be places representing the homes of the characters, but the main draw is Green Gables, of course. You can go inside and see the history of Lucy Maude Montgomery, the author. The inside of the house is actual size and you see where Anne, Marilla, and Mathew lived. I loved the little kitchen and living room area, too.
Yes, it’s not like Harry Potter World, but I knew who Mrs. Lynde was and seeing her house next to Green Gables reminded me so much of the how much I loved the story.
I think you should definitely go for a visit if you’re interested in Anne Shirley and her story. If not, you might find it all very boring. But if you’re in the area, it’s also a nice little place for a quick rest from all that driving. Ashibetsu is located close to Furano and Asahikawa so it could be a stop to or from Sapporo. Since the park is nice and large and surrounded by nature, I think you’ll get a nice boost in exploring the area for a bit.