Articles by Simon Bernard    

DISCOVERING THE SECRETS OF NANBU TOWN!


Have you ever noticed that most of the agriculture in the Misawa area grows underground? Because of the sea fog we experience, vegetables like potatoes, carrots, nagaimo(long yams) & daikon(giant white radish) are what grow best. But just get out to the foothills and you can find a whole new world and be pleasantly surprised to find a “hidden stash” of beauty, skill, warmth & taste in the backyard of Aomori Prefecture called 南部町 Nanbu Town!

Located just west of Hachinohe and north of Sannohe, Nanbu Town is less than an hour drive from base. Recently the three towns of Fukuchi, Nagawa and Nanbu incorporated into this one town and has a history that dates back to 1189 A.D. Surrounded by Mt. Nakui and the Mabechi River (Aomori Prefecture’s longest river), the fertile foothills provide a wide variety of rich tasting fruits, innovation and culture.

IT DOESN’T GET ANY FRESHER THAN THIS!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of coming to Nanbu is the year-round availability of fresh fruits that you are welcome to pick right off the vine, tree or plant! Starting with the sweetest strawberries you ever tasted in winter/spring and finishing the year in late autumn with the juiciest crispy apples (Aomori is the #1 producer of apples in all of Japan), you will also find cherries, plums, blueberries, peaches, pears and persimmons in between.

The town is set up to help you get to the farm of the fruit of your choice. All you have to do is go to The Nagawa Agricultural Tourist Information Center (open from 8:30 to 5:00). The staff will call and ask a local farmer to come and guide you to their farm where you will be able to harvest and eat to your heart’s content. Children are especially welcome! Reservations are no longer needed. 0178-76-3020.


Picking seasonal fruit all year round is fun for both young and younger!


CAMPING AND RECREATION? You bet!

With all this talk about nature you had to think the town had to make some special places for us kids (at heart) who love being outdoors. The Nagawa Cherry Village is just that spot (follow the red road signs that point you to “NAGAWA CHERRY RIN MURA”). At the top of this hill are 2 restaurants The one with the lodge and natural hot springs has a menu in English Your kids will also want to check out climbing the 100 foot high Dragon Tower. If you happen to go on a weekday to climb the dragon tower and it does not seem to be open, drive around to the Information Center and they will send someone to open it up.

At the bottom you have a camp ground with tent sites and THE VERY POPULAR rentable “tree houses” that fit up to 4 people. Warm shower houses and toilets abound. No reservation required. In between, you have a myriad of walking, hiking and biking trails, tennis courts too. Some cabins are available as well. To rent these you will need to have a Japanese person call in advance at the near-by Nagawa Agricultural Tourist Information Center. 0178-76-3020


Rent a tree house or bring your own tent. Check out the Dragon Tower at the top of the hill next to the restaurants and hot springs.


DRY FLOWER CENTER

If you are into arts & crafts, you will want to often visit The Dry Flower Center. Open year round, this unique shop has not only ready-made goods including framed flower-art paintings but everything conceivable for those who prefer to do it yourself. The friendly staff is always on hand and will assist you in making tapestries, flower baskets, wreaths, flower hearts, key chains, book marks, greeting cards, straps, etc. Families are welcome.


There is always a ”Sensei” available to help you make your own craft or buy something ready made!


HOKOJI TEMPLE AREA/Mt. Nakui

For those who really like old traditional Japanese temples, the over 700 year old Hokoji Temple site deserves time to be explored. Built between 1249 and 1256 AD, the site that was constructed on the side of Mt. Nakui means one must climb up from the main temple to see all the shrines and end up at the magnificent 3 stories pagoda in the back.

While passing through the scenic “1000 pine trees” road, be sure to look for the “Grandfather Cedar”, a 1100 year old tree that towers over 100 feet with a circumference of 25 feet, on the right side of the road just before you get to the temple. There is sometimes a small fee charged to enter the temple area.

There is a hiking trail from the back of the temple that will take you to the top of Mt. Nakui. For those who would like to get to the 360° view from the top without a long hike, take the road behind the temple and drive up to the mountain (park where the toilets are) and walk a few minutes up to get to the trailhead, from there it is only a 30 min walk which is great for families with grade school kids and older!


Hidden in the back, you will have to walk up around the temple area to get a view of the majestic “Jusanto” pagoda.


WATER PARK WITH SLIDE

For those who like swimming and water fun, the “Bade-Park” is the place you want to go. Facilities include indoor & outdoor pools (the outdoor pools are only open in July & August), a huge water slide, natural hot spring baths, restaurants, free rest areas, weight and running room and hotel. Overnight guests get to use all the facilities for free, but an all day pass is only 1000 yen/adult and 500 yen for kids and students. Be sure you check out the large scale “rice field art” in the paddies right on front of the water slide! 0178-84-2850


Both the indoor & outdoor pools with water slide is fun for the whole family.


Nambu Town Event Schedule 2016

GPS AND DETAILED INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND ON OUT THE GATE IN FACEBOOK!

The 25th JACKDO FESTIVAL July 09(Sat) & 10(Sun)

The 27th Nanbu Summer Festival August 11 (Thursday) (Night time festival)

The 36th Nanbu Festival 2015. August 11(Thursday) (Daytime festival)

Nagawa Autumn Festival in Kenyoshi September 8 (Tue) to 10 (Sat)

Tomabechi Festival September 17(Sat) & 18(Sun)

Pumpkin Party-End of October

Industrial Festival in Nagawa-Beginning of November

The Specialty Festival in Fukuchi-Beginning of November

DIRECTIONS:

To get to Nanbu, get on the Michinoku Expressway at the Misawa IC or Shimoda/Momoishi IC and get off at the Hachinohe Kita IC and turn right at the light. Go 2.7 km. and turn off to the left following the green signs to Hachinohe EPWY. Turn right at light then count 8 lights (you will pass the Fish market, go over RR track and a bridge), turn right (there is the GAIA pachinko parlor cattycorner). You are now on Rt.104.

Go 9.7 km to the 13th light (you will go over a river, then a sharp corner, eventually go under the bullet train tracks and pass by KEKU home-made spaghetti restaurant). There is a sign that says: ”Tomabechi” above this light. I am going to call the 13th light POINT “A”. All directions will now start from POINT “A”.

The places in order of closeness to POINT A are: Dry Flower, Nakui Ceramics, Cherry Village, Tourist Information Center and Hokoji/Mt. Nakui. There is a route to take you to each of these in this order.

But if you are only planning to go to The Tourist Info Center to pick fruit, take the following route: From Point “A” continue straight to the “T” intersection and turn left. You will now be on Rt. 4. Go to the 5th light and turn left (look for the sign “Suwanotaira’ on the concrete wall right as you turn). Go under the RR tracks and over the bridge. Soon you will come to a strange 4 way intersection. Turn slightly right, heading for the red CHERRY RINMURA sign. Go 1.6 km and turn right onto Rt. 227 toward the Hokoji sign. Go 1.8 km and turn left. The Center is the log house on the left.

TO: Dry Flower Center . From “A”: go straight 4.5 km and turn left toward Rt.33. Go over the RR tracks and take the larger road on the right. Go 0.5 km and turn left (Rt.33) then go 0.3 km and turn left just before the wavy roof building. Let us call this turn “POINT B”. Take the first right, the Center is the pink house behind this building.

To: Nagawa Cherry Village . From POINT “C”, instead of turning right to N.Ceramics, go straight 2.6 km. It will be on your right.

To: The Tourist Info Center . From Nagawa Cherry Village 0.9km up the same road.

To: HOKOJI/Mt. Nakui Go 0.1 km past The Tourist Info Center and turn left at stop sign, follow road to Rt.227 going up. 0.5 km turn left. Turn left when you get to the temple, you can pull into the parking lot on the left and walk up. To Mt. Nakui turn right just past the parking lot Rt.227. Go 1.8 km and park in front of the toilets. Walk up the paved road and soon you will see the hiking trail on the left. (Not recommended if the trail is wet).

IN CONCLUSION

There are so many other “secrets” to explore In Nanbu. There are also summer & autumn festivals and an international pumpkin event that your family can sign up for all well! The more you come, the more you should poke around some of the other side streets to find treasures new and old! You can also pick up a free English color guide map to Nanbu at Misawa ITT, Misawa Inn or Navy Liberty Office.