2 hours 42 minutes using train and bus from Sapporo Station

Just east of Sapporo is the small town of Biratori, and in that small town is an even smaller kotan, or Ainu village. Many villages once stood along the Saru River, but now only one remains: Nibutani.

What is there to see?

You’ll find reconstructed chise houses and the impressive Nibutani Ainu Culture Museum, which is filled floor to ceiling with ancient clothing, jewelry, utensils and tools (entry ¥400).

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Nearby is the Street of Artisans. Here you can pick up local crafts, such as attus, fabric woven from tree bark, and ita, wooden trays with a design handed down from generation to generation. Nibutani is also where Shigeru Kayano, one of the last native speakers of Ainu, was born and some of the Ainu artifacts he collected lie in the Kayano Shigeru Nibutani Ainu Museum (entry ¥400).

Apart from the history, you can also soak in the open-air hot spring at Biratori Onsen Yukara for only ¥500.

How to get to Nibutani Kotan

From Sapporo Station, you can grab a train to JR Nimanohata Station (42 minutes) before changing to a local bus (Donan Bus) towards Biratori (around 2 hours). From New Chitose Airport, you can also go to Nimanohata Station and catch the same local bus towards Biratori and Nibutani.