The first Japanese pioneers to open up land in the Kuriyama district in 1888 were led by Izumi Rintaro. He was a retainer of the lord of Kakuta, in what is now Miyagi Prefecture in northern Honshu, so the new village was named Kakuta. It went on to develop from an agricultural base into a balanced rural settlement with a variety of commercial and industrial entreprises. The name Kuriyama (‘Chestnut Mountain’ in Japanese) derives from the Ainu expression ‘Yamu ni Ushi’, (a place where many chestnut trees grow). The name was changed from Kakuta to Kuriyama in 1949 when the village officially became a town.
Kuriyama is situated in the central region of Hokkaido, about an hour’s travelling time from Sapporo, the administrative centre, and a similar distance from the port of Tomakomai and from Shin Chitose Airport. The Kuttari mountain range lies to the north of Kuriyama and to the east are undulating hills which extend to the Yubari mountains, in the city of Yubari. The Yubari River winds to the south and west and forms a boundary with the neighbouring towns of Yuni and Naganuma. Kuriyama has a somewhat long and narrow shape, stretching from north to south. The town centre is situated in the north west corner of Kuriyama at a junction of national highways and on a railway line so there is easy access to all parts of Hokkaido.
|Town flower||Lily (designated 31.8.1978)|
|Town tree||Chestnut (designated 31.8.1978)|
|Sister city||Kakuda City, Miyagi Prefecture (established 26.8.1978)|
|Land||Total area : 203.84 sq.km (as at 1.1.2009)
Distance east to west : 17.5 km
Distance north to south : 25.1 km
Land use : forests 35.0%; ricefields 21.0%; vegetable fields 9.0%; miscellaneous 3.5%; wilderness 3.0%; residential 2.7%; other 25.8% (all data for 2010)
|Climate||Average annual temperature : 7.5 °C
Maximum temperature : 31.6 °C
Minimum temperature : - 20.1 °C
Annual rainfall : 858 mm
Annual snowfall : 424 mm
Hours of sunshine : 1,617 (all data for 2009)
|Population||Total : 13,350
No. of households - 6,056 (as at 1.8.2011)
|Agricultural Statistics||No. of agricultural households : 581
Total agricultural population : 2,233
Area of land in agricultural production : 5,325 ha (2005)
Total value of agricultural production : ¥6.5 billion (2006)
Main agricultural products : rice, wheat, onions, melons, soya beans (2009)
|Business Statistics||General Businesses (2006)
No. of businesses : 757
No. of employees : 6,787
Industrial Businesses (2009)
No. of businesses : 42
No. of employees : 850
Value of manufactured output : ¥2.9349 billion
Retail Businesses (2007)
No. of businesses : 201
No. of employees : 1,176
Value of annual sales : ¥2.5707 billion
Exchanges with China connected with melons originated when Kuriyama received a visit in September 2007 from a group from Ordos City in the Inner Mongolian autonomous region of China, in Japan to study agricultural technology. The exchange has continued since then. The visit was arranged through the Hokkai-Gakuen Institute for Northeast Asia Studies, (HINAS), in Sapporo.
In 1989 irrigation and re-afforestation projects were inaugurated in the Engebe Model Environment District of Ordos City in the Kubuchi desert. Over the following twenty years, the re-afforestation projects have received visits and assistance from several international organizations and become a base for desert-related tourism.
A melon cultivation project began as a key element in a bid to develop agricultural land in the desert. With technical assistance provided by Hihara Kazuo, a melon producer from Kuriyama, trial cultivation of sweet-tasting, high quality melons is now under way.