Asahikawa is located in a basin surrounded by the Daisetsuzan mountain range, which reaches 2,000m above sea level at its apex. The Biei, Ushubetsu, Chubetsu, and Ishikari rivers run through it, making a very water-rich area. Asahikawa developed early on as Hokkaido’s core distribution site, where water and rail transportation connected. The city’s proximity to forest resources helped cultivate its lumber, woodworking, pulp, and paper manufacturing industries. With ample land and water, farming also thrives in Asahikawa, which is known for its high quality Hokkaido rice. Its clean air and water and superior rice also makes it perfect for sake brewing and Asahikawa has produced many prize-winning sakes. In recent years, the “action exhibition” carried out at the Asahiyama Zoo, in which animals are allowed to roam freely, has become immensely popular and even caused a national boom. Its location in Hokkaido withstanding, Asahiyama has the second largest volume of visitors in Japan after the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. Asahikawa ramen also has nationwide following. The city’s most popular ramen shops have opened up branches throughout Japan and abroad.