Springtime in the Hachinohe Area
Hachinohe, located in Aomori Prefecture, is one of the northernmost cities on Honshu. It’s also the doorstep to the Sanriku Fukko National Park and the Tanesashi Coast, where you can take in the outdoors through activities like hiking, yoga, camping, cycling, and BBQs right on the Pacific Ocean. Don’t miss a trip to the city in springtime if you want to see the sakura cherry blossoms on the Pacific coast, experience Japan’s biggest morning market, or venture just outside the city limits to get lost in the history of the area at a medieval castle.
1. Bus or Bike Down to Tanesashi for Some Fresh Air
With natural grass spreading to the water’s edge, the Tanesashi Natural Lawn area offers some of the best scenery in the whole of the Sanriku Fukko National Park. In the past, it was a pasture for horses grazing along the Tanesashi Coast. The characteristic grassy scenery of the lawn has been shaped over the years by both nature and people. You can get there by Umineko Bus, a 100-yen sightseeing bus that runs between JR Same and Tanesashi Kaigan Station. In the spring, another convenient and inexpensive way to explore the coastline is to rent a bicycle—a range of road bikes and electric bicycles are available—and take in the scenery al fresco.
2. Enjoy Glamping in Style
Once you bike or bus down to the Tanesashi Natural Lawn, the campgrounds are equipped with areas for barbequing, sinks, public restrooms and can accommodate up to 250 tents. There is truly no better place to camp than on the Tanesashi coast, amid striking scenes of verdant green and ocean blue. A 5.2-kilometer walking trail leads from the grounds to the Ashigezaki Scenic Overlook. Along the route, countless wildflowers bloom throughout the seasons. The campground offers a variety of captivating views and enjoyable activities throughout the year.
3. Travel Back in Time for the Day at Sannohe Castle
Today the tranquil grounds of the Sannohe Castle, now called Shiroyama (lit. “Castle Mountain”) Park, belie its medieval past. This area was the historic seat of the Nanbu clan, a family that rose to power in northern Tohoku at the close of Japan’s warring states period. While the castle was repeatedly lost to fire and little is left of the original structures, the remains of its stone walls and moat can still be seen.
Also inside the park is the Sannohe Museum of Local History and Culture. Its architecture is modeled after a typical Japanese donjon, making it a romantic addition to the park. The park also features a popular deer park, event spaces, walking paths, and more, making it ideal for the whole family. With 1,600 cherry blossom trees, it is particularly stunning in spring and a premier destination for cherry blossom viewing.
4. Get Lost on Tatehana Wharf, Japan’s Biggest Morning Market
Every Sunday, from before daybreak until around 9 AM, the Tatehana Wharf comes alive with bustling activity. Over 300 vendors come to set up shop on this massive, lengthy quay facing the Pacific. And so Japan’s biggest morning market is formed, stretching more than 800 meters and visited by tens of thousands of visitors and locals alike every Sunday. The people of Hachinohe take pride in their market, but they also know how to have a good time and not take themselves too seriously, as unofficial Hachinohe mascot IKADON clearly demonstrates. With so much action, it is one of the hottest spots in Hachinohe and an absolute must-see on any trip to the area, especially in the spring months, when it teems with people eager to get outdoors after Hachinohe’s long winter.
5. Morning Yoga by the Shore
But before munching at the market, why not refresh yourself back on Tanesashi’s Natural Lawn. Every Saturday morning from 7:00 AM, as the sun rises from the Pacific, visitors roll out their mats on green grass in the cool ocean breeze before assuming a mountain pose. And so Saturday Morning Yoga on the Tanesashi Natural Lawn begins, a popular way to start the weekend for many locals in Hachinohe. Its idyllic setting is the perfect backdrop for a relaxing stretch in the soft, verdant grass on rolling hills until it finally reaches the rocky shore of the Pacific. This slice of serenity is the perfect spot to refresh and recharge in one of the country’s most unique yoga experiences.
6. Kabushima Shrine
A nationally designated monument, Kabushima is a breeding site for black-tailed gulls located on the northern tip of the Tanesashi Coast, just east of central Hachinohe. It is the only place in Japan where you can observe the breeding of black-tailed gulls up close. These gulls, which fly to Kabushima around the beginning of March every year, lay their eggs in April, which then hatch in June before the birds leave the island in August.
But there is no better time to see these birds than in spring when nanohana, or rapeseed, blooms on the island around mid-May, and the contrast between the yellow of the flowers, the red of the torii at Kabushima Shrine, and the white gulls against the blue sky create a beautiful spectacle.
Or find 8 more ways to enjoy Hachinohe here.
Hachinohe: A City of Revival on Japan’s Northern Tip
Rainy Day Guide to Hachinohe & Beyond