Start the New Year right with a trip to the Hachinohe Area. All around, the electric atmosphere of the holiday festivities can be felt as communities of the area celebrate the start of a new decade. Check out the list below for all the best things to eat, see and do to usher in a grand new year in the Hachinohe Area.
What to Eat: Mame-Shitogi
Mame-shitogi is a delicious winter treat in the Hachinohe Area with an interesting and long history. The word shitogi was originally used to describe a rice cake that was a precursor to mochi, a common type of rice cake eaten in Japan today. Shitogi was used as an offering food throughout Japan hundreds of years ago. Today, shitogi still survives in two areas in Japan: the Nanbu region (including the Hachinohe Area) and in Kyushu. The shitogi found in the Hachinohe Area is different from the Kyushu shitogi because the main ingredient is soybeans instead of rice. Historically, the Hachinohe Area could not grow a lot of rice and had to utilize other grains and plants. Therefore, the people of the area made mame-shitogi or soybean–shitogi.
Mame-shitogi usually comes in two colors: black or a white/light-green/tan. Soybeans are mashed, mixed with rice flour and sugar, and shaped into a small log or oblong cakes. It can be eaten as is or sliced and toasted for a warm treat. You can find it in supermarkets in the area, at some michi-no-eki (road stop stations), and at local markets.
What to Do: Tour a Sake Brewery
Hachinohe Shuzo Sake Brewery
Hachinohe Shurui Sake Brewery
The Hachinohe Area is lucky enough to have five separate sake breweries within its bounds. The Hachinohe Shuzo Sake Brewery and the Hachinohe Shurui Sake Brewery are two of these breweries that are located right in Hachinohe City itself. Although the sake breweries’ names are quite interesting, their history, brewing style, and products are all quite unique, making it well worth the effort to tour and taste each.
But why recommend touring a sake brewery during January when it is freezing cold outside? This is because winter is the traditional season for brewing sake in Japan. This means you can try lots of new sake that is fresh off the line or, on some occasions, see the sake itself bubbling away in its fermentation vat. So, besides learning about the interesting process of how sake is made, you can get some exclusive seasonal perks as well!
For more information about the Hachinohe Shuzo Sake Brewery, click here.
And for more information about the Hachinohe Shurui Sake Brewery, click here.
What to See: New Year’s at the Kushihiki Hachiman Shrine
Hatsumode is a Japanese word that describes the first visit of the year to a Shinto shrine. During the first few days of January, people in Japan visit their local shrine to make a wish for the New Year. A great place to experience hatsumode for yourself is at the Kushihiki Hachiman Shrine in Hachinohe City!
During the hatsumode season, the Kushiki Hachiman Shrine will celebrate the New Year in full festival fashion. Bustling with people, there will be food and drink stalls to greet eager visitors. Some fun New Year activities at the shrine include: getting a fortune slip (omikuji) to predict how your year will go and picking out your own good luck charm (omamori). Established hundreds of years ago, the shrine looks beautiful in the winter weather, so make sure you take the time to tour the grounds as well! Happy New Year everyone!