Articles by Simon Bernard    


You donít need a round-trip ticket back to the USA to enjoy country music and dancing and big slice of beef, just head out to Takko Town Saturday and Sunday, October 1st and 2nd for their 26th annual Garlic and Beef Festival to enjoy Texas Bar-B-Q Japanese style.

Dressed in the colors of the American flag, along with cowboy boots and cowboy hats, the locals prove they can line dance with the best of them.

Nestled in the foothills of Aomoriís mountains just southeast of Lake Towada, Takko Townís delicious beef is known throughout Japan. Drinking natural spring water is just one of the secrets of the health of the high quality cows called Japanese Black.

Takko Townís other claim to fame is that they are the #1 producer of garlic in Japan. Because of this, they have established sister city relationships with other internationally famous garlic producing areas such as Gilroy, Ca. Monticelli, Italy and Seosan, Korea.

Each year student and music exchanges take place. These community members also attend each otherís festivals, giving the 2 day extravaganza a very international flavor. This year also the Garlic Queen of Gilroy, California and her entourage will be on hand to meet you!

Each year the main event at the festival is the Yakiniku (Bar-B-Q) Party with Takko beef which you can season with specially produced garlic tare (sauce) to enhance the flavor. Taking place at the 2-2-9 DOME (pronounced ni-ni-ku, the same word for garlic in Japanese) just at the bottom of the ski lift, the indoor and outdoor venues means no matter what the weather brings, everyone can remain warm and dry!

There will be a lot of entertainment happening at the inside and outside stages. The lineup includes many games for children as well as a bouncy house. There will be country dance shows, garlic spitting contest, garlic sumo and garlic putting. Other shows include the Nanyadoyara Bon dance dating back 630 years, Takko Kangura dance and Yosakoi Soran dancers. There will also be a raffle each day for all advance ticket holders for the Bar-B-Q with lots of great prizes. English interpreters will also be available.

The entrance to the festival is free, but to participate in the Bar-B-Q, you should buy an advanced ticket. This will insure you a big slice of the mouth watering Takko Beef. Advanced ticket holders will receive a Bar-B-Q set of beef and veggies for you to cook yourself. Do it yourself cooking areas will be set up at the site!

To get an advanced ticket, go to the Misawa ITT ($23) or the information booth at Shimoda Mall (2000 yen). If you are not able to get an advanced ticket, it will not be possible to get on in the Bar-B-Q. You can not buy a Bar-B-Q set at the festival this year.Misawa ITT will also have a shuttle bus from the base to the venue on Saturday & Sunday. Call 226-3555 for more information!

It goes without saying there will be a lot of booths selling many different kinds of great tasting Japanese foods and drinks. A group of country line dancers from Misawa Air Base will be on hand Saturday afternoon to get your feet slap-happy. Again there will be lots of events for children as well!

If after the festival you are still in an adventurous mood, you can drive the road up higher to the top of the ski lift for a breathtaking autumn colored view. There is also a yakiniku restaurant at the top there. Allow yourself some time so you can also visit the famous Miroku waterfalls by going back down to Rt. 104, turning right and driving about 20 more minutes.

DIRECTIONS: It takes about an hour and a half to get to Takko Town from Misawa Air Base. Go out the Falcon Gate -- also called the POL gateóand start counting lights. Turn left at the 13th light to get on the Dai Ni (no.2) Michinoku Expressway. At the 1st toll booth, pay 250 yen and get a ticket. Get off at the 2nd exit called Hachinohe Kita (north).

After paying the toll, go to the light and turn right. After 2.8km turn left onto the off ramp, go down to the light and turn right. Follow this road (you will go by the Hachinohe Fish Market on your left side) 4km. and turn right at the light (big pachinko parlor on corner), you will now be on Rt. 104. Go 14 km. (you will go through Nagawa Town, now known as Nanbu Town) and turn left onto Rt. 4. Go 13 km. and turn left onto the off ramp (you will be in Sannohe Town). Go to stop sign and turn right, you are back on Rt. 104. Go 9.3 km and turn right onto Rt. 21(this turn off is just past the 3 stoplights in Takko Town). Follow this narrow road 6.7km and turn left at the fork (right before this turn there is an English sign for Soyu mura) another 1.5 km up the road turn right and you will be at the Festival!

To get to Miroku waterfalls: Go back down Rt. 21 and turn right on Rt.104 go 15.1km (you will pass a light at the 9km mark) and turn left at the sign for Miroku Falls, go another 5km park and walk 3 to 4 minutes over to the waterfall. Drive carefully.


Be advised that by press time not all the times for the schedule had been finalized.

SATURDAY, October 1st

10:30 Opening Ceremony
11:30 Garlic Queen paper/rock/scissor contest
12:00 Sister City guest welcome ceremony
12:30 Sano Shachu Dance
13:00 Raffle
13:30 American Garlic Queen dance & song
14:10 Misawa Country Line Dancers
14:40 Naniyadoyara Dance
15:00 Close

SUNDAY, October 2nd

10:30 Opening
11:30 Garlic Queen paper/rock/scissors contest
12:00 American Garlic Queen dance & song
13:00 Raffle
13:30 Hula Dance
14:00 Yosakoi Soran Dance
14:30 Kangura Dance
15:00 Close