The Hachinohe Area is a region in the southeast of the Aomori Prefecture. It is made up of the city of Hachinohe and seven towns and villages in the surrounding area. These separate villages, towns, and cities were all once part of the domain of the Nanbu clan. This shared cultural history has shaped the area into a warmhearted community that is filled with amazing and unique experiences just waiting to be discovered. Pristine nature, amazing food, and thrilling history await any visitor brave enough to travel to Hachinohe: Japan’s Northern Frontier.
Below are snapshots of each of the wonderful communities that make up the Hachinohe Area. Included at the end of each article is a link to pictures of each area that you can even download for free!
Hachinohe is a sprawling city facing the Pacific Ocean in the southeastern area of Aomori Prefecture. From long ago it has been a cultural and economic center in the area as one of the main centers of the ancient Nanbu Clan. Today, Hachinohe is considered one of the foremost industrial cities in the northeast and is known throughout the country for the vast amount of seafood that is brought into its port.
Within the city limits is the Tanesashi Coast which is famed for its nature and beauty and just a short trip away from downtown Hachinohe which boasts some of the most bustling and outrageous nightlife in Northern Japan. From nature to history, industry to cuisine, there is a treasure trove of hidden secrets waiting to be found in Japan’s Northern Frontier: Hachinohe.
The town of Sannohe is in the southern area of Aomori against the border with Iwate prefecture. Situated on the confluence of the Mabechi and Kumahara rivers, the area has been inhabited by people from the Jomon Period, through ancient Japan, up until the present day. As such it is rich in history and archeological sites including the site of the former Sannohe Castle of the Nanbu Clan. The main street of the town today was once the major highway that connected this area to Tokyo, and truly this is a town where you can feel the history and tradition of years past simply by walking around.
Furthermore, Sannohe is the hometown of the late beloved children’s book author Noboru Baba, creator of one of Japan’s most well-known children’s book The Eleven Hungry Cats. The town has celebrated Baba’s legacy by adopting the cats as the town’s mascot and decorating it with cartoon cats at every turn.
Clean and clear flows the Gonohe river through the four seasons and Gonohe town. A spring that shares the same source as the Gonohe river quietly bubbles out crystal cool water that is used by the town’s sake brewers to make their masterpieces. Brewed with this water in the harsh coldness of Aomori’s winters, one sip of Gonohe’s local sake is all it will take to evoke scenes of the pastoral setting in which it was made. Outside of sake, Gonohe since long ago has been an area known for its horse breeding, and as such is famed for its delicious and healthy horse meat. The meat has such a beautiful color to it, that it is commonly called sakura-niku or cherry blossom meat.
Additionally, Gonohe is home to Aomori’s Kuraishi Beef, reputed to be amongst the best quality and best tasting in Japan. High in quality and with perfect marbling, Kuraishi Beef is said to melt on the tongue.
Finally, completing the trifecta of ultimate meats, Gonohe is the proud originator of the Aomori Shamorock breed of Chicken. Often boasted as ‘Chicken fit for an Emperor’ as the chicks of the Aomori Shamorock are the only ones sent to stock the imperial household’s coops, the meat from this bird is beyond tender, rich in flavor, and of the highest quality.
To drink in Gonohe is to experience the sublime, to eat in Gonohe is to enter paradise. Come and enjoy yourself in Gonohe.
The town of Sannohe is the most Southern point of Aomori, bordering both the prefecture of Iwate and Akita. Although it is well known for its agriculture in general and for its Takko Beef, the true king in the town of Takko is garlic.
Traveling through Takko, visitors can try the town’s famous dish Takko Garlic Steak & Rice, a mouthwatering dish that turns Takko’s premium beef and famous garlic into a culinary experience. Next, stop by the towns Tapukopu Village, composed of century-old farmhouses where you can try your hand at making your very own Nanbu senbei. Finally, visit the Miroku Falls, a unique and beautiful waterfall that is beautiful to view during every season.
The town of Nanbu spreads out from the foothills of Mt. Nakui to the banks of the Mabechi river. Rice paddies pattern the scenery and lush nature fills every corner. This idyllic country town is known for its abundance of fruit growing, and it is said that no matter what time of the year it is there is always something growing in Nanbu. True to its reputation, visitors can pick some sort of fruit during every month of the year, even during winter!
The town is also home to progressive and creative community-building projects. As a pioneer in green tourism, Nanbu has started several projects to boost positive interaction between locals and visitors that utilize the town’s abundance of natural beauty and agricultural activity under the town’s Tasha (robust) Village Project. Additionally, after passing the Nabe (hotpot) Act, every 22nd day of the month was declared nabe (hotpot) day. Cooking hotpot is seen as a communal event as everyone sits, cooks, talks, and eats together, so the act was made in hopes that it would bring together families and friends together and promote communication within the community. Continually striving to be more open within the community and to the outside world positively and responsibly, the town of Nanbu is a great village to visit.
Situated at the most southeastern portion of Aomori, the town of Hashikami is known to be ‘the first to see the sunrise’ in the prefecture. Here you can enjoy majestic scenes of fields mountains and sea. Both Mt. Hashikami and the Hashikami Coastline are known for their scenic beauty and are part of the Sanriku Fukko National Park’s Michinoku Shiokaze Trail.
Hashikami is famed for its Ichigo-ni, a rich soup made with sea urchins and abalone, and its Hashikami Wase soba (buckwheat noodles), both of which can be found at several restaurants and facilities throughout town. Rich in seafood and local vegetables right from the field, the food in Hashikami is fresh, lively, and delicious.
Shingo is a village shrouded in mystery. Home to the purported grave of Jesus Christ, dances with strange intelligible lyrics, and stone pyramids in the forest, it has become a center for esoteric legends and weird stories. Many visitors travel to the village for the yearly ‘Christ Festival’, a festival to placate the spirit of Jesus, that takes place every year on the first Sunday of June.
Outside the mysterious and fantastical, Shingo is also home to pristine nature. From the end of April to the beginning of May the largest area of Mizubasho flowers in the Tohoku region blooms. Furthermore, visitors can experience an array of hands-on experiences relating to nature at the popular Maki-no-Tai Green Park recreational facility. The facility becomes bustling during its open season as it provides space for around 500 people to camp, along with 8 bungalows and 58 spaces for auto camping.
The town of Oirase sits on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in between the cities of Hachinohe, Towada, and Misawa. Easily accessible within 30 mins from both the Hachinohe JR Station and Misawa airport, Oirase enjoys a convenient location. The cool summer wind known as the yamase blows during the summer keeping the area cool while Oirase relatively low snowfall compared to the rest of the prefecture. These factors along with a growing residential population make the town a very livable place.
Various events and festivals take place throughout the seasons of the year. Furthermore, as the seasons change so does the bountiful produce grown in the town lending excitement and flavor to the regional and seasonal dishes of Oirase. Enjoy visiting Oirase at any time of the year for a fun, unique, and unforgettable experience.