Where flax cultivation is carried out in Hokkaido

Flax plants are the raw material for flaxseed oil, flax seeds, and linen dough. Flax plants are annual plants of the Flaxaceae family and have been cultivated for a long time. Of course, it is also cultivated in Japan, where we live, and seeds have been used as medicine since the Edo period. Cultivation as a raw material for fiber is said to have been widely produced in Hokkaido from the Meiji era to the Showa era. This time, we will introduce the reasons why flax is cultivated in Hokkaido, stories about the areas where flax is still cultivated, and events.

Hokkaido flax producing area

After the war, flax cultivation in Hokkaido declined and once stopped, but in Tobetsu-cho, Ishikari-gun, Hokkaido, flax cultivation is being revived again. In Japan, it is said that only Hokkaido is suitable for cultivating flax, and flaxseed oil is also in high demand due to the recent health boom. Therefore, as an initiative to revitalize the region, we have continued to work from the desire to revive the cultivation of this historic plant flax.

A major production area for flax cultivation in Hokkaido: Tobetsu Town

Tobetsu-cho, Ishikari-gun, which resumed declining flax cultivation in 2001. Flax cultivation in Hokkaido started in the Meiji era because it can be used as fiber. Flax was being produced as a raw material for fiber during the war, but after the end of the war, easy-to-use chemical fibers became widespread, and flax cultivation, which is a natural fiber, declined. And in the 40's of the Showa era, flax plants disappeared from Hokkaido. Flax, which had disappeared from Hokkaido for a long time, had to be established from the cultivation method, and it seems that the producers had a lot of trouble. It is said that it has built up the technology by conducting trial cultivation that grows without using pesticides over a long period of more than 10 years.

In 2001, about 40 years after the decline of flax cultivation, flax cultivation was revived in Tobetsu-cho, Hokkaido.

Areas where flax is cultivated outside Tobetsu Town

In addition to Tobetsu Town, there are areas where flax is cultivated.

In 2004, Ama Kogyo Co., Ltd. was established in Sapporo City, and farmers mainly undertake cultivation contracts and cultivate in areas such as Sapporo City, Sorachi Jurisdiction Tsukigata Town, Shintotsukawa Town, and Hiyama Jurisdiction Atsabu Town. ..

The flax public corporation and the flax production union have collaborated to build a cultivation method from scratch. The revival of flax cultivation for the first time in about 40 years was due to the passion and cooperation of the producers.

Why flax is cultivated in Hokkaido

The origin of flax is the arid region of Central Asia. Russia is currently the largest producer of flax, with production of about 670,000 tons, followed by Canada with 570,000 tons and Kazakhstan with 560,000 tons. Against the background of increasing demand for flax year by year, many countries are cultivating and producing more. By the way, flax is such a dry area, because flax is strong against dryness, and it is also weak against high temperature and withers in the heat. The reason why flax is cultivated in Hokkaido is the characteristic of this flax. Here, I will tell you about the relationship between Hokkaido and flax and the suitable climate.

Relationship between Hokkaido and flax

Thomas Antisell is said to be the proposer of flax production in 1871 during the pioneering era of Hokkaido in the Meiji era.

At the time of receiving Mr. Antisell's proposal, Mr. Takeaki Enomoto, the Russian minister at the time, introduced the technology to take fiber from flax and started production. Hokkaido Hemp Co., Ltd. was established in 1890, and after that, flax factories were built one after another in various parts of Hokkaido.

Flax production that has grown steadily. It is said that there were a total of 85 flax factories in 1921. Many of the workers were women, such as Tondenhei's wife. Flax cultivation became popular in Hokkaido, but after the war, the military demand for flax disappeared due to the defeat, and the rise of easy-to-use chemical fibers caused flax cultivation to decline rapidly. Finally, cultivation in Hokkaido was completed in the 1965s. Cultivation of flax will be temporarily stopped here.

Reference: People involved in flax in Japan-flax edition-

Climate suitable for flax cultivation

Since the country of origin of flax cultivation is the arid regions of Central Asia, it is naturally resistant to dryness and therefore does not require frequent watering.

Therefore, in Japan, cold regions such as Hokkaido are suitable for cultivation areas, and when you actually look at the cultivation areas in the world, they are in higher latitudes than Sapporo City.

In addition, continuous cropping of flax on the same land will reduce the yield and lead to quality deterioration, so it is necessary to carry out crop rotation for 6 to 7 years. Other than that, it is a tough plant, so the quality of the soil does not matter. However, it is said that fertile soil is better if you want to grow flowers for fun. The sowing is from April to mid-May, and the harvest is finished by the middle of August because it is vulnerable to heat.

Enjoy flax flowers in Hokkaido

Flax has thin, fluffy stems and many small blue flowers on it. And when the flowers are scattered, they bear fruit with two seeds in each of the five rooms. In the case of flax for seeding, it takes about 120 days after sowing the seeds to bear fruit, so it is recommended that the stems turn yellow and the pods turn brown. Besides that, flax can enjoy flowers. The appearance of small blue flowers blooming and swaying is very cute and soothing. Flax flowers can be enjoyed for a couple of weeks, while flax flowers are also known to be very ephemeral. Below, I would like to talk about flax flowers and the flax festival held for regional revitalization.

Regarding flax flowers

Flax blooms small blue flowers in about two months when sowed between April and May. Flax flowers can be enjoyed for a couple of weeks as a flowering period, but one flower is famous for its short life.

In fact, flax flowers bloom in the morning while bathing in the morning sun, and then fall in the afternoon. This is the reason why flax flowers are ephemeral. It looks even more beautiful because it is a precious flower that only blooms for one day. If you grow your own flowers and want to enjoy the flowers for a long time, try adding fertilizer.

Flax festival held in Tobetsu town

Tobetsu-cho, Ishikari-gun, which is a major production area of flax. In this town, the "Hokkaido Flax Festival" is held at the time when flax flowers are in full bloom (late June to early July). The hard work of farmers who have been researching cultivation methods for a long time has paid off, and it is an event that more people from the suburbs, including Sapporo, visit Tobetsu Town. The contents of the event include various projects and stores such as exhibitions about flax, sales of agricultural products in Tobetsu Town, sales of flax products, and food and drink booths that handle foods used in flax nuts. In addition to that, a demonstration of flax fiber collection and spinning, and a singing competition with the theme of "Flax-colored hair maiden" are also held. It is a fun event while watching the beautiful scenery of the flax field.

As mentioned earlier, flax flowers bloom early in the morning and disperse in the afternoon, so the flax festival starts early and ends in the afternoon. When you go out, it is recommended that you can see the flax flowers.

Location 2796-1 Higashiura, Tobetsu-cho, Ishikari-gun, Hokkaido

Place Former Toura Elementary School Inquiries Tobetsu Town Tourism Association TEL: 0133-23-3073 Flax Village TEL: 0800-900-4149


Flax used to be widely produced in Hokkaido. Flax, which was very useful as a raw material for fibers during the war, declined with the spread of chemical fibers after the end of the war, and finally disappeared in the 1965s. Currently, flax cultivation is showing signs of recovery in some areas, with a context of regional revitalization. There are people who are still striving to spin the history of flax, which has been an industry for a long time, and flax, which has a name in the area, in Hokkaido. Linen and flaxseed oil have become common products in our daily lives, but we hope that you will learn a little about their domestic production and history.

Reference: History of flax cultivation in Hokkaido

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