September marks the beginning of fall, and for the Hachinohe Area, it is the start of the harvest season. Throughout the month, the bounty from the hard-worked fields, farms, and seas of the area fill the markets of Hachinohe. Fairs, festivals, and other events crowd the calendar as the weather cools. Below is a list of recommended best things to eat, do, and see in the Hachinohe Area during September!
What to Eat: Saba (Mackerel)
September is in the middle of the best season for Hachinohe’s most famous fish: mackerel. The mackerel caught off the coast of Hachinohe is said to be some of the most delicious in all of Japan.
Fresh Maeoki mackerel, or saba in Japanese, can be found around town commonly served raw as sashimi. But one of the best ways to enjoy the fish thanks to its high-quality fattiness is to have it grilled. Grilling the fish causes its skin to crisp and the meat to become rich and succulent. Walking along Hachinohe’s famous drinking alley, the Miroku Yokocho, you can find stall-like restaurants that have pit-style grills called irori that are used to slow grill skewers of mackerel. Also, Saba-no-Eki (open 5 PM – 12 AM) in downtown Hachinohe is a mackerel-specialty restaurant that is a great place to try the fish!
As the city’s main fish, Mackerel has played an important role in Hachinohe’s history and culture. Because of this, it has made its way into many dishes in the area. From pickled to deep-fried croquettes, there are countless great ways to try this in-season fish.
What to Do: Community Festivals
There are two local festivals taking place in the Hachinohe Area during September: the Sannohe Aki Matsuri (fall festival) from 9/7 to 9/9, and the Oirase Momoishi Festival from 9/20 to 9/23. Both festivals share similarities with the Hachinohe’s Three Shrine Festival in that they feature festival floats or dashi in Japanese. But because these festivals are smaller in scope than some of the larger festivals that occur in Hachinohe City, they have a strong community-based atmosphere to them. Both festivals are great opportunities to get a glimpse into the culture and atmosphere of rural Japan while also having a lot of fun!
Honorable mentions for the rest of the month’s events:
The Hibarino Dahlia Garen of Gonohe is a small garden that boasts over 1,500 plants and 160 different types of dahlias. The variety of colors found in the garden are stunningly beautiful, and at 200 yen per person, the entrance fee is well worth it. The garden is open from 8 AM to 5 PM every day until the end of October.
The 2nd Annual Hachinohe Bar Festival will be taking place on 9/1 (Sun) from 11 AM to 8 PM at the Machiniwa facility across from hacchi. The theme of this year’s event is ‘World of Ethnic Food’. Some of the city’s best restaurants and bars will be participating, so there is sure to be no shortages of good food and drinks at this great event.
Also taking place at the Machiniwa is the 38 Fuud Food Marche 2019 on 9/7 and 9/8. During the event, local farmers will be selling fresh artisanal and heirloom produce, meats, and other products. There will also be live cooking demonstrations from local chefs using fresh local produce, and even live music performances!
What to See: the Sunday Morning Market at Tatehana Wharf
As mentioned above, September is when the harvest season is starting to kick off in the Hachinohe Area, making it the perfect time to check out the Sunday Morning Market at Tatehana Wharf. The market is one of the largest morning markets in Japan, and with over 300 stalls you can find almost anything. Be delighted by the bountiful fresh and dried seafood, freshly-harvested fruits and vegetables, homemade snacks and local dishes, and even miscellaneous household goods. The market is visited by over 10,000 people every week, and as autumn continues, the number of people and the amount of food will also continue to grow.