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Noheji Town

By Chiho Tsukihashi
Staff Writter

When I heard that my family had to move to Noheji Town in last April, I wasn't very happy about that. The small port town of only 15,000 populations is located 35km away northwest from Misawa. There is no movie theater, shopping mall, or fast food restaurant in the town. 45-minute drive is required to get to any of the above. However, it didn't take long before I started to love this town. It has so much to offer all year around. A beach, ski resort, hiking trails, onsen, and fresh seafood are just to name a few. This article is to show you what you can expect to see and to do in Noheji.

Tofugaura Beach
One of the best beaches in Aomori Prefecture. It's truly relaxing only to sit and watch beautiful scenery it provides. It is of course great for swimming: The sea is shallow for a good distance from the sandy shore, where calm waves gently wash. Tall mountains on Shimokita Peninsula viewed over the sea; it feels like as if you were swimming in a large beautiful lake. Seven diving boards make swimming even more fun. Hot shower, restrooms, and food stalls are available.

Makado Onsen Ski Resort
In winter, Noheji Town is the snowiest area in the prefecture. This makes the place a superb ski resort. Especially a 2km long ski run through woods is popular among skiers and snowboarders of all levels. After enjoying winter sports, relax in clean and spacious onsen at Fujiya Hotel, which is one of the best in the region. It's open throughout the year.

Eboshi-dake Mountain
The tall mountain in the west with huge antennas on top is Eboshi-dake. Its height is 719m, a half of Hakkoda. The peak is accessible either by hiking or driving. The panoramic view is breathtaking: Hakkoda Mountains, Shimokita Peninsula, Pacific Ocean, Lake Ogawara are all in command of view.
For hiking, drive Route 4 and turn at the sign 野辺地西高校(Noheji Nishi High School.) After you pass the high school, and Prefectural Livestock Experiment Station, the unpaved road along a river continues about 6km. There is a parking space for hikers at a large rock on your right. Park your car there and take a trail taking you to the top with 90 minutes or so. You are strongly recommended that you should wear hiking shoes, outfit, and backpack with enough drink. You cannot help exclaiming as you reach the peak and suddenly a scene opens up before your eyes. There is a paved road that leads you all the way to the top. It is possible to walk on it, but it is not recommended because of its awfully boring view. Take the road only if you are driving. It surely saves time and makes it easy for children and elderly enjoy the scenery. However, it is going to be a bumpy ride that only a SUV makes possible. After you park the car, you still have to climb rocky and steep trail for 20 meters or so.

Atago Park
Local families play catch and have picnic in this park. There is a gym for children. It's nice short exercise to climb to the top of the hill, where you can look out over the town and the gulf. In spring, 150 carp streamers swim in the sky over cherry blossoms.

Four Mounds Dividing Two Clan Territories
Noheji was a politically important place before Meiji Restoration, located at the west end of Nambu Clan territory. Large four mounds remain marking the old border. There was a battle near the area described in the following paragraph.

Battle of Noheji Site
Tom Cruise's "Last Samurai" features the civil war that ended samurai era toward the end of 19th century. Battles were fought throughout of the nation between the Shogunate and the Anti-Shogunate. In 1868, Nambu Clan (Shogunate) and Tsugaru Clan (Anti-Shogunate) had a bloody battle in Noheji, which killed 53 samurai. You can see four tomb stones standing in the battlefield by the seashore. Names of 27 casualties are engraved. To locate the site, look for the sign reading "Boshin War Site" along Route 279.

Noheji Gion Festival
From August 20 through 22 this year, the town will have annual Noheji Gion Festival. The name and style are derived from a traditional festival in Kyoto, which strongly influenced Noheji's culture during 17th through the end of 19th century through frequent trade. During the festival, flamboyantly decorated floats go around the town. On 21, around 2,000 fireworks will be set off at the beach from 7:30 p.m.

Fishery is the main industry in Noheji Town. Scallops are famous in particular. Go to a fish section at local grocery stores and find freshest scallops, breams, flatfish, horse mackerel, yellowtail, and other unidentifiable fish sold at low prices. Sushi in packed-meal section

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