Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Best Guide to the Port City of Hachinohe

Northeastern Japan is simply stunning. Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada are the top destinations in Aomori Prefecture. This astonishing part of Japan can conveniently be reached via a JR train or Shinkansen. The city, Hachinohe, is where the buses bound for Oirase Gorge and Lake Towada depart from and terminate. On top of that, it has a beautiful coastline for you to see!

If you can spend an entire day in Hachinohe, head to the coast! Enjoying the view of the Pacific Ocean as you trek through the road along the coastline is just the best (=゚ω゚)ノ. The city also has the biggest morning market in Japan and an alley full of stalls where you can randomly strike up a conversation with the owner or customers eating next to you.

Below is a list of places that might interest you when you get to Hachinohe!

Explore Hachinohe With a Guided Tour

If you prefer to be guided when you visit Hachinohe, how about joining one of the below tours?

Tip: Comfort Hotel Hachinohe is a great hotel to stay for a night close to JR Hachinohe Station. If you prefer to stay at Hachinohe’s city center, Daiwa Roynet Hotel Hachinohe is recommended.

The Best Itinerary at Hachinohe

Most people spend two days in Hachinohe.

Apart from winter, the best way to explore Hachinohe is to arrive on a Saturday and visit a couple of attractions you are interested in during the day. For dinner, go to Hachinohe Yataimura Miroku Yokochō to enjoy the local stall culture.

Stay at one of the hotels near Hon-Hachinohe Station (本八戸駅) or along the JR Hachinohe Line, so it is easier to get to Tatehana Wharf Morning Market on Sunday morning. After you have had enough food and have done enough shopping, you can spend the rest of the morning at Tanesashi Coast and have lunch at Hasshoku Center.

How to Get to Hachinohe

From Aomori Station, you can either take a JR train or one of the local trains managed by Aoimori Railway Company (青い森鉄道). It will take you around 90 minutes via limited trains. Obviously, the bullet train will take you to Hachinohe faster.

From Tokyo, taking the Tohoku Shinkansen will take around 3 hours to arrive at Hachinohe.

If you are coming from somewhere further away, consider taking an airplane to get to Misawa Airport (三沢空港).

☛ If you are coming by bullet train, head to the Hachinohe Tourism Information Center on the station’s second floor for tourist brochures and transportation information, including sightseeing taxis and buses.
☛ If you plan to take a bullet train from Tokyo, refer to our article on The Best Seats on the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hokkaidō for which side of the train has better view!

A List of JR Passes that Covers Hachinohe

Below is a list of JR passes covering Hachinohe and other regions. Please keep in mind that depending on your itinerary, a JR pass may or may not be worthwhile for your trip. You can estimate the transportation cost using Google Maps and compare the total price to a JR pass.

How to Get Around Hachinohe

When you come to Hachinohe, one thing to be aware of is that the JR Hachinohe Station is not in the busiest part of Hachinohe City.

Apart from the JR trains and local buses, there are also three kinds of sightseeing buses bridging you between a train station and attractions in Hachinohe.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟
  • The Sunday Morning Market Loop Bus ISABA (ワンコインバスいさば号) runs every Sunday from early April to late December.
    • For more information, please refer to the official website HERE.
    • If the webpage wasn’t updated for the current year’s information, refer to the Japanese website HERE and translate it to English by Google Chrome’s translation function at the right of the address bar.
  • The Umineko Bus (ワンコインバス・うみねこ号) brings you to one of the best attractions in Hachinohe’s Tanesashi Coast.
    • For more information, please refer to the official website HERE.
    • Again, you can refer to the Japanese website HERE for the newest information.
  • The Hasshoku Center 100 Yen and 200 yen Loop Bus (100円バス) brings you to Hasshoku Center to source some local specialties.

Hachinohe’s Local Specialty

At Hachinohe, you will find many souvenir shops selling wheat crackers called Nanbu Senbei. The crackers were the main food of the locals in winter when food was hard to find up until a few centuries ago.

Nowadays, the cracker is available in various flavors. Some shops do offer testers so you can discover your favorite flavor.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Tenpo Senbei is a variant of the Nanbu Cracker (refer to the photo on the right). Made from the same ingredient, it is more like a pancake that is soft inside.

Some Tenpo Senbeis have fillings inside, whereas others have their dough slightly flavored with salt.

If you order a hot pot in Hachinohe, you might also find Nanbu Senbei as one of the ingredients!

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Hachinohe Yataimura Miroku Yokochō (八戸屋台村みろく横丁)

Yokochō in Japanese means small alley with copious small eateries and bars great for gatherings and/or a drink after work. Among the eight Yokochōs in Hachinohe, the Hachinohe Yataimura Miroku Yokochō, is a must-go when you are in the rural city. It is the best place to enjoy a night with the locals!

For more information, refer to our Hachinohe Yataimura Miroku Yokochō article!

Hasshoku Center (八食センター)

Hasshoku Center is like Hachinohe’s kitchen, where agricultural products, groceries, and seafood can be sourced.

While many shops and restaurants sell seafood and meat, it doesn’t mean you can’t find some delicious vegetarian dishes and snacks from the center.

If you are dropping by around lunchtime, there is a tempura restaurant where you can enjoy mouthwatering freshly fried vegetables and mushroom tempura.

For morning and afternoon tea, there are a couple of dessert shops and cafes that can keep your energy level up between the main meals (^_-)-☆.

For more information, refer to our article on Hasshoku Center!

Hachinohe City Museum (八戸市博物館)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

If you want to know the history of Hachinohe, the Hachinohe City Museum can be a good place to visit (albeit English explanations are limited here, but there are leaflets in English).

The museum comprises four exhibition sections: archeology, history, folklore, and intangible materials. Together, the exhibits provide valuable materials related to the local politics, economy, culture, and life from the Jōmon period to the Edo period.

On the ground of the museum, you will also find the Ne Castle Ruins (根城), featuring some buildings that have been restored to what they looked like back in the Azuchi–Momoyama period (1568 – 1600).

The Ne Castle or Nejō was completed in 1334 by Nanbu Moroyuki (南部 師行), who was a feudal lord from the late Kamakura period to the early Nanboku-chō period. Until 1627, when an order to change the territory took place, it had been the center of Hachinohe Province.

Inside the rooms of the castle ruins, tools used at the time were displayed to demonstrate the lifestyle and rituals from a few centuries ago.

The castle ruins have been maintained as a park that is free to enter. When the weather is good, it can be a nice place for a picnic (^_-)-☆.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Hachinohe City Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fee, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except Mondays.
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm.
    • If the Monday is the first Monday of the month or is a public holiday, the museum will open.
    • Other than Mondays, if a public holiday falls on a weekday, the museum will close on the next business day.
    • The museum will also close from the 27th of December to the 4th of January.
  • The admission fee for the museum is
    • 250 yen for adults
    • 150 yen for senior high school and university students
    • 50 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • The admission fee to enter the Honmaru (main quarter) of Ne Castle Ruins is
    • 250 yen for adults
    • 150 yen for senior high school and university students
    • 50 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • You can also get a combo ticket for admission to both the museum and Honmaru
    • 400 yen for adults
    • 240 yen for senior high school and university students
  • From JR Hachinohe Station, please take the buses from bus stop no. 1 and get off at Nejō (根城).
    • Refer to the orange table HERE is the timetable for the services departing from JR Hachinohe Station.
    • Please refer to the column highlighted in red.
    • “平日” means weekdays, “土曜日” means Saturdays, “日祝日” means Sundays and public holidays.
  • From the city center, please take buses that will stop by Shihō Center (司法センター) and get off at Nejō (根城).

Miyagi Park (三八城公園)

If you are stopping by Hachinohe during the cherry blossom or autumn foliage season, check out the scenery in Miyagi Park. Just a few stations away from JR Hachinohe Station, the park that was transformed from Hachinohe Castle Ruins (八戸城跡) is now a popular place for the locals to go on light strolls.

The Cherry Blossom Season of Miyagi Park

The 50 cherry trees in the park usually bloom from late April to early May.

How to Get to Miyagi Park

  • From Hon-Hachinohe Station (本八戸駅), it is less than a 5-minute walk.
  • If you are visiting Hachinohe City Museum as well, it is within a 30-minute walk.
  • If you are taking a bus, stop at Shichō-mae (市庁前).

Kushibiki Hachimangū (櫛引八幡宮)

Kushibiki Hachimangū, surrounded by cedar trees that are hundreds of years old, is the biggest shrine in Nanbu Domain (南部藩).

The shrine was founded by the first lord of the Domain – Nanbu Mitsuyuki (南部 光行), who enshrined Kai Province’s Hachiman Daimyōjin (八幡大明神) here in 1222 after he was rewarded with the land in the area.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Nanbu Domain’s territory was from the south of Aomori Prefecture to the north of Iwate Prefecture today.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The main worship hall was built in 1648. The Important National Cultural Property is a valuable relic that conveys the architectural style of shrines from the early Edo period.

In addition to the roof with the elegant curve, remember to also examine the intricate engraving underneath the roof.

Other than the main worship hall, on its spacious 50,000 square-meter precincts, there are many smaller shrines that have various gods enshrined.

In the national treasure hall, Kokuhō-kan (国宝館), many Important (National) Cultural Properties, including two armors that were designated as National Treasures, are on display.

Tip: At Kokuhō-kan, the audio guide can be provided in English.

Dressing up as a Samurai or Shrine Maiden Costume

At Kushibiki Hachimangū, you can dress up as a samurai or shrine maiden. And it isn’t pricy. As long as it doesn’t rain, you can even have an outdoor photography session!

If you are interested, talk to the staff at the shrine’s office. They have costumes in various sizes suitable for both adults and children. The cost is:

  • 1,000 yen for one person
  • 1,500 yen for a pair

Kushibiki Hachimangū’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The shrine’s office is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm.
  • Entering the shrine is free except for the Kokuhō-kan, which will cost
    • 400 yen for adults
    • 300 yen for high school students
    • 200 yen for elementary school students
  • If you are taking a bus from either JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅) or Hachinohe’s City Center Bus Terminal (中心街ターミナル), please get off at Kushibiki Hachimangū-mae (櫛引八幡宮前).

Korekawa Jōmon Museum (八戸市埋蔵文化財センター 是川縄文館)

Apart from Hachinohe City Museum, if you would love to know more about the Jōmon period, the Korekawa Jōmon Museum has many artifacts excavated from remains in Korekawa and other areas close by on display.

The Korekawa Remain next to the museum is a part of the World Heritage – Jōmon Prehistoric Sites in Northern Japan (北海道・北東北の縄文遺跡群), which was newly registered in 2021. Including the National Treasure, Clay Figurine with Clasping Hands (Gasshō Dogū, 合掌土偶), you will find many valuable exhibits that have been designated as Important National Cultural Properties.

One thing to note is that the National Treasure Gasshō Dogū may be on a “business trip” from time to time (for example, it was at the British Museum (大英博物館) in 2009). So if you are heading to the museum for the sole purpose of meeting the clay figurine, it is best to check with the museum first to confirm it is currently “home”.

You can do so by either:

  • Emailing them at [email protected], or
  • Giving them a call at +81-178-38-9511 (if you don’t speak Japanese, kindly ask the staff in your hotel to call on your behalf).

☛ Download the Pocket Curator application. It will guide you through the museum in English. You can also rent out a device with the application installed from the reception for free. To download, please refer HERE.
☛ You can also reserve an English-speaking tour guide with the museum by a phone call at least one week in advance.

The museum also holds various workshops relating to the Jōmon period. If you are interested, please click HERE. The English website may not be updated regularly, so when you get to the museum, check again with the reception to see if a workshop that you are interested in is on.

Korekawa Jōmon Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • The museum is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily except Mondays.
    • The last admission is at 4:30 pm.
    • Refer to the museum’s calendar at the bottom of the webpage HERE. The museum won’t open on the days that are marked in red.
  • The admission fee is
    • 250 yen for adults
    • 150 yen for university students
  • From JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅) bus stop no. 4 at its east exit, take buses bound for Korekawa Jomon-kan (是川縄文館) and get off at Jomon-kan (是川縄文館).
    • Note this service currently only runs on weekends and public holidays.
  • Bus services also depart from Hachinohe Lapia (ラピア) and Hachinohe City Center (中心街) daily.
  • HERE is the timetable for all bus services that will stop at the museum.
    • “平日” means weekdays, “土曜” means Saturdays, “日祝” means Sundays and public holidays.

Tatehana Wharf Morning Market (館鼻岸壁朝市)

One of the things that the second biggest city of Aomori Prefecture is known for is its Tatehana Wharf Morning Market.

Within just 800 meters, more than 300 stalls are there on Sunday mornings from spring to autumn, from dawn to around 9 am. The morning market, receiving over 10,000 visitors weekly, is known as Japan’s biggest!

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Apart from the fresh seafood, there are also many stalls selling cooked dishes and snacks perfect for breakfast (=゚ω゚)ノ.

For vegetarians, there are still various options, such as handmade mochi rice cake, freshly baked bread, and more! You can use the phrases in our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans to check with the staff owners to shop for dishes you can eat.

If you need a coffee to start your day, head to one of the hand-brewed coffee stalls (though there will most likely be a queue).

After you fill your stomach, you can hunt for local specialties and second-hand items such as antiques.

Also, if you love fruit, Tatehana Wharf Morning Market is a great place to source some really cheap local fruits. If your accommodation facility has a kitchen, bring back some fresh vegetables with very friendly price tags for dinner!

Tip: As most stalls will be fully packed up by 9 am, if there is anything you love, grab it on the spot.

The Opening Hours and Access Information of Tatehana Wharf Morning Market

  • Tatehana Wharf Morning Market is open from dawn to around 9 am from mid-March to December.
    • It will be closed on the day of the Hachinohe Umineko Marathon (八戸うみねこマラソン) in May.
  • The morning market is just a 10-minute walk from JR Mutsu-Minato Station (陸奥湊駅).
  • If you are taking the Sunday Morning Market Loop Bus ISABA (ワンコインバスいさば号), get off at Tatehana Gyokō-mae (館鼻漁港前).

☛ Please watch out for the time so you don’t miss the train/bus you want to take for your return trip. he number of services is limited.
☛ If you are driving, the 500 parking spaces do get filled up quickly. We recommend parking your car as soon as you see a parking space instead of trying to find one near the market.

Tanesashi Coast (種差海岸)

The Tanesashi Coast at the center of Sanriku Fukkō National Park (三陸復興國立公園) is an unusual beach. Instead of a sandy beach shore, it has a natural lawn spread to the shoreline! As one of the National Places of Scenery Beauty, along the Tanesashi Coastline, you can admire more than 650 different types of plants that bloom from spring to fall!

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The lawn continues all the way to the 5.2 km Coastal Exploration Trail (海岸探勝歩道), which was chosen to be one of Japan’s Top 100 Promenades.

At Tanesashi Coast, you can even enjoy a yoga session on the lawn!

For more information, please read our article on Tanesashi Coast (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Aoba Lake (青葉湖)

Aoba Lake is a hidden gem in Hachinohe. It is the place to enjoy the beauty of the mountains in this port city. Especially in autumn, if you are looking for a less-crowded spot for vivid color, come to Aoba Lake because even some citizens of Hachinohe are oblivious to its existence!

The lake is the artificial dam lake of Yomasari Dam (世増ダム).

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Throughout the year, as long as the area isn’t covered by heavy snow, you can walk around the lakeshore or take the sightseeing boat to tour around the lake for around 45 minutes.

On the sides of Aoba Lake, there are observatories that will give you an amazing view of this magnificent lake.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

If you come to Aoba Lake in May, plants such as dogtooth violet will bloom.

Note that the sightseeing boat operates from late October to early November every hour from 10 am to 3 pm (except at 12 pm for lunch break). The cost is 1,000 yen per person.

The boarding place is near Shin-mizuyoshi Bridge (新水吉橋), south of the lake.

The Fall Foliage Season at Aoba Lake

The autumn color at Aoba Lake usually peaks from late October to early November each year.

How to Get to Aoba Lake

Unfortunately, to get to Aoba Lake, you will need to have access to a car. It is around a 30-minute drive from Hachinohe Station.

The car park near the lake has a capacity of 10 cars.

Yama no Gakkō (山の楽校)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Near Aoba Lake, Yama no Gakkō is a great place to adore sunflowers from mid to late August. The sunflower field here is the largest in northeastern Japan.

On their vast flowerbed, more than 2 million sunflowers will bloom at once!

Yama no Gakkō was a school up until 2002. Instead of abandoning the school, it was transformed into a facility that teaches people how to make soba noodles, tofu, craftworks, and rice cultivation.

For a list of activities the school offers, please refer to their calendar HERE. You can translate the page with Google Chrome’s translation function on the right of the address bar.

The classrooms are decorated with school supplies that fit the purpose of the particular room. For example, there is various experimental equipment in the science classroom. And you will find various instruments in the music classroom.

Also, in front of the school is a large field of buckwheat. Unlike the large yellow sunflowers, the white soba flowers are white and gorgeous.

The flower season of soba here is from mid to late August. So if you calculate the time right, you can adore both kinds of flowers at the same time (^_-)-☆.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The Opening Hours and Access Information of Yama no Gakkō

  • Yama no Gakkō is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily except Mondays.
    • If Monday is a public holiday, it will open but close on the next business day.
  • The restaurant is open from 11 am to 2 pm.
    • Note: The broth contains seafood extract.
  • The same as Aoba Lake, you will need to drive to Yama no Gakkō.

Hachinohe Enburi Festival (八戸えんぶり)

Hachinohe Enburi is a festival that takes place at the end of winter, marking the start of spring in the region. The 4-day festival involves Enburi dancing at various parts of Hachinohe, with people praying for a good harvest for the year.

If you have experience in rice cultivation, you will realize that the dancing movements resemble the sowing and planting of rice.

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The festival can be traced back to the Kamakura period (1192 – 1333), when the first lord of the Nanbu clan, Nanbu Mitsuyuki (南部 光行), arrived at Hachinohe. Welcoming the first new year, the retainers of Mitsuyuki were drunk from the feast and were causing trouble to the locals as they swung around their swords.

Seeing the scene, a farmer called Tōkurō (藤九郎) picked up his farm tools and started dancing while singing the rice-planting songs. With his entertainment, the Mitsuyuki’s retainers finally settled down.

When Does Hachinohe Enburi Festival Take Place?

Hachinohe Enburi Festival takes place from the 17th to the 20th of February. The schedule of the festival changes each year. So when you get to Hachinohe, head to the tourist information center for more details about the festival.

You can also refer to the official website HERE for more information.

Hachinohe Park Spring Festival (はちのへ公園春まつり)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

The 2,000 cherry trees in Hachinohe Park will bloom from mid to late April. The park, usually a destination for children and young families, will suddenly receive around 330,000 visitors who shall admire the gorgeous flowers.

From the end of April to the beginning of May (around the same time as the Golden Week), the Hachinohe Park Spring Festival will take place with various performances on stage. Of course, various temporary stalls will be there to take care of your stomachs!

How to Get to Hachinohe Park

From JR Hon-Hachinohe Station (本八戸駅) or Hachinohe Chushingai Terminal (八戸中心街ターミナル), take buses bound for Korekawadanchi (是川団地) and get off at Kodomo no Kunidōri (こどもの国通) or Kodomo no Kuni Iriguchi (こどもの国入口).

The bus trip will take around 20 minutes.

Hachinohe Sansha Taisai (八戸三社大祭)

Ⓒ 青森県観光連盟

Hachinohe Sansha Taisha is the biggest festival of the year, held each summer from the 31st of July to the 4th of August.

The festival has existed since 1721. During the 5-day festival, various rituals, performances, and processions occur throughout Hachinohe’s city center.

The “Sansha” means three shrines. The festival is a combined event of Ogami Shrine (おがみ神社), Chōjasan Shinra Shrine (長者山新羅神社), and Shinmeigū Shrine (神明宮).

One of the event’s highlights is when the portable shrines and the 27 gigantic floats are paraded through the city. Each of the floats illustrates a certain legend or a historical story. You will undoubtedly be amazed by the level of excitement from the crowds around you when the floats get closer!

Together with 32 other festivals across the country, Hachinohe Sansha Taisai was registered as an Intangible Cultural Heritage with UNESCO in 2016 as part of the Yama, Hoko, Yatai Float Festivals in Japan.

So if you will be in Japan when the festival takes place, how about stopping by Hachinohe and getting a vibe of this massive festival that sees more than a million people gathered each year?

For more information about the schedule of the upcoming festival, please go to the official website HERE.

Tip: If you can’t be there when the festival is on but would still like to see the floats, some of them are exhibited on the first floor of the Youtree building (ユートリー) next to JR Hachinohe Station (八戸駅).

Discover Aomori, the Capital of the Prefecture

Click the photo to find out more about the fascinating attractions in the city!

Aomori City, the capital of Aomori Prefecture, has a wealth of beautiful nature, such as the Hakkōda mountain ranges and Mutsu Bay. Stunning scenery can be adorned throughout the year, and in fall, it is the time to find your favorite kinds of apples!

The city also has a couple of cultural heritages for you to enjoy a different kind of Japanese culture.

For more information, please refer to our article on Aomori!

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