Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Nakamachi Komise Street – One of the Best Spots in Kuroishi

Have you ever wondered what a traditional Japanese arcade looks like? When you visit Kuroishi City, come and explore Nakamachi Komise Street (中町こみせ通り). It is the only arcade in Japan that has remained almost intact since the Edo period (1603 – 1868)!

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

The arcade that protects the people from the sun and snowstorms wasn’t the intention made by the government back then. The then shopping street used to be a busy part of the city. From the kindness of the shop owners, the arcade was built, hoping it would give customers a better shopping experience (*´ω`).

In 2005, Nakamachi Komise Street was selected as Japan’s important traditional buildings preservation district. Below is a list of attractions to be added to your itinerary!

How to Get to Nakamachi Komise Street

To get to this lovely street, take the Kōnan Railway Company (弘南鉄道)’s train and get off at Kuroishi Station (黒石駅). The street is just a 10 to 15-minute walk away.

From Hirosaki Station (弘前駅), it is a 30-minute train ride to Kuroishi Station.

If you would rather take a bus for 100 yen to get to Nakamachi Komise Street, there is Kuroishi City Loop Bus – Purattogo (黒石市回遊バス「ぷらっと号」) departing from Kuroishi Station. As there are 5 loop bus routes, please take loop bus no. 1 – the West Course (西部コース) and get off at Nakamachi (中町).

The number of services may be quite limited. HERE is the link to Kōnan Bus’s website for the bus’s timetable. The information regarding the West Course should be located in the first two rows. The time indicated is when the bus will depart from Kuroishi Station.

Free Guided Tour at Nakamachi Komise Street

Important: Currently, the free guided tours are suspended.

From late April to late October each year, during the weekends and public holidays, volunteer guides will guide you through this historic street (tours in English are available). Only two sessions are available per day, one starting at 9:30 am and the other starting at 1:30 pm. Each session lasts approximately 2 hours.

If, however, you won’t be able to attend the above two sessions, or you can only visit Kuroishi on a weekday, you can make a reservation for the guided tour for the day of your visit between 9 am and 5 pm 7 days in advance. To make a booking, please give Kuroishi Tourism Association (黒石観光協会) a call at +81-172-52-3488 between 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays. You may be asked to fill in this application form HERE (in Japanese).

During the winter months, although the free guide tour will still be made available, advanced booking is not only required, but the number of places you will be able to explore is limited.

Whether you are attending either of the two scheduled sessions or have made a reservation for another time, it is advised that you be at the gathering point (refer to the map) on time.

Free Live Performances at Komise Eki (津軽こみせ駅)

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

Speaking of “Live Museum”, Kuroishi City lives up to the name by having regular live performances at Komise Eki. Two Shamisen (a type of Japanese lute) live performances are held here at Komise Eki every day (except in winter months, which are only held on weekends and public holidays). Also, it is a great place to get your souvenirs!

The schedule of the performances is as per below.

  • 11 am to 11:30 am
  • 2 pm to 2:30 pm

Important: Currently, the performance only takes place on weekends and public holidays.

Tsugaru Komise Eki’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The opening hours of Komise Eki are 8:30 am to 5:15 pm daily except for Tuesdays and the 1st of January.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions on Nakamachi Komise Street.

Narumi Sake Brewery (鳴海醸造店)

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

For all Japanese sake lovers, come to Narumi Sake Brewery for free sake tasting!

Narumi Sake Brewery has been a long-established sake brewery and liquor store since 200 years ago. Not sure what their secret is, but even the dry sake is easy to drink and remains a favorite amongst female customers (*´ω`).

This brewery isn’t just one of the last few places that brew their alcohol in traditional housing. Its Japanese garden can be seen from its tatami room and has also been designated a national cultural property!

According to the shop’s owner, having a national cultural property on your house’s grounds isn’t necessarily good. They have to spend their entire day off maintaining the garden. Without the garden, they could have spent their time off traveling or just relaxing…(;´∀`)

If you would like to join the 30-minute free sake brewery tour, you will need to book with them 3 days in advance by calling them at +81-172-52-3321.

Please note that the tour is only held in Japanese. Also, it is not held during winter (between November and mid-April) as it is during their busiest time.

Important: The tour is currently suspended due to COVID-19. Refer to their website HERE for the most up-to-date information.

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

Even without the tour, you can still take a peek at what the traditional sake brewery looks like. Check out that big tub on the right. That thing can hold around 2,000 bottles of sake!

On the way to the tatami room that leads to the Japanese garden, you will also see what the accounting department of the brewery looked like back in the good old days, i.e., an abacus and an old account book are displayed on the table. These were used before the era of calculators and computers (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Narumi Sake Brewery’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • The brewery is open from
    • 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays
    • 9 am to 4 pm on weekends
  • The sake brewery tour is held between 9 am and 4 pm

Important: The sake brewery tour is currently suspended due to COVID-19.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions on Nakamachi Komise Street.

Nakamura Kamekichi Sake Brewery (中村亀吉酒造)

In the early Meiji era (1868 – 1912), Kuroishi didn’t have anything locally special apart from good quality rice and fresh, clean water from the nearby mountain range.

The high quality of the rice and the water just happen to be the two most important components of Japanese sake making. Unsurprisingly, the sake brewery became the most important part of Kuroishi’s commercial activity. The sake from the city has won several important awards across the country!

Although the number of breweries has since decreased from eleven to two, just like the Narumi Sake Brewery above, the Nakamura Kamekichi Sake Brewery opened in 1923, has inherited the tradition of the Kuroishi sake industry, and has since improved its techniques in making a variety of sake.

When you stand in front of the brewery, the enormous cedar ball hanging at the top of the gate should catch your attention. The ball, being 2.1 meters in diameter and weighing around 1,500 kg (゜o゜), is the biggest cedar ball in the country!

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

In the past, all sake breweries in Japan would hang the brown cedar ball to notify the neighbors that their sake was ready to be drunk or purchased. Nowadays, of course, they have enough stock to sell sake any time of the year. Today, the cedar ball is just the symbol or signboard for any brewery in Japan.

Unlike the Narumi Sake Brewery, they don’t offer sake tasting or brewery tours to the public. However, if you a big fan of Japanese sake, you can still purchase a small bottle or two to try out what award-winning sake tastes like. Their most famous sake is called Tamadare (玉垂). The name was given by a zen monk, which means the ‘sweetness of the water droplets dripping from the rock’ to describe the sake’s sweetness.

Nakamura Kamekichi Sake Brewery’s Business Hours and Access Information

The brewery is open from 8:30 am to 5 pm on weekdays only unless it is a public holiday.

Click HERE to get back to a list of attractions in Nakamachi Komise Street.

Takahashi Residence (高橋家住宅)

Back in the Edo period, the head of the Takahashi family was called “Riemon (理右衛門)” as the family would supply rice to the Kuroishi Domain (黒石藩), which is a branch domain of the Hirosaki Domain. With the wealth and power derived from the position of Riemon, the family also manufactured miso, salt, oil, medicine…etc, back then.

Just by looking at the size of the house built in 1763, you can tell that the family lived quite prosperous back then!

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

As most of the traditional houses in Nakamachi Komise Street have since been transformed for commercial use, the Takahashi family house is now the only house on the street that remains a residential property open to the public.

Part of the house has been converted into a small café. On a sunny day, you can have a cup of delicious coffee in their lovely garden (*´ω`). The coffee is made from water drawn from a well instead of tap water.

If you stay indoors at the counter seats, don’t forget to check out their ceiling. You will find that the ceiling is of an arc shape. Apparently, the design was to minimize the damage as much as possible from the frequent earthquakes.

Tip: Their handmade anmitsu (あんみつ), which is a type of traditional Japanese dessert with azuki beans, cubes of agar gelatine, and other delicacies with molasses poured over, is the most popular menu of the café!

Takahashi Residence’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • The house is open from 9 am to 4 pm from late April to mid-November.

Important: During the non-winter period, to explore the house, please announce your visit before you wander freely. Also, since it is private property, please be courteous and respectful.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions on Nakamachi Komise Street.

Matsubadō Matsumura (松葉堂まつむら)

Matsubadō Matsumura is probably one of the most famous Japanese sweets shops in Kuroishi. The reason is partly that the shops were recognized by the emperor back in the Taishō era (1912 -1926 ).

See that profound signboard in the photo? It was gifted to the shop by the Imperial Household Agency to commemorate the honor of purchasing by the emperor Σ(゚Д゚).

The representative sweets are called the Hoshiume (干梅). Even for those who don’t have a sweet tooth, we still think they would like the taste! The sourness of the plum pickled perilla leaf wrapped around the white bean paste, which is then salted on the surface, creates a perfect taste for anyone to enjoy (*´ω`).

After Hoshiume, the Komise Saichū (こみせ最中) is the second most famous sweet in the shop! The sweets are known as “Shio Monaka” in Kuroishi. Once you have tasted that slightly salted red bean paste in the Komise Saichū, you probably won’t be able to stop your hand from reaching out for a second one!

Matsubadō Matsumura’s Business Hours and Access Information

The shop is open from 8:30 am to 7 pm daily.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions on Nakamachi Komise Street.

Matsu no Yu Community Center (松の湯交流館)

The first thing you will notice when you walk close to this traditional house is the gigantic pine tree growing out of the house! Apparently, the landowner didn’t want to chop down the old tree. Instead, the house was later purposely designed in a way that the tree could co-exist with the house (*’▽’).

Matsu no Yu Community Centre, located on Nakamachi Komise Street, has always been a place for people to exchange knowledge and life experiences.

Back in the Edo period, Matsu no Yu Community Centre was originally a hotel where tourists could rest and revitalize after a long journey.

It wasn’t until years later that the house transformed into a public bathhouse. But then again, as it wasn’t common for people to have a bathroom in their houses back then, it was also used as a place for the locals to gather and share information about the town.

With the pine tree (matsu in Japanese) as the symbol of the house, the house opened as a public bathhouse and was then named Matsu no Yu (Yu means bath/hot water in Japanese).

Although the bathhouse was closed in 1993, it was reopened as a community center in 2015. Since then, it has become a popular spot for locals and visitors to interact! In the community center, you will see the undressing basket, bathtub, body scale, and counter previously used before the bathhouse was closed down. Part of the house has been transformed into an information center, providing visitors useful sightseeing information.

Also, for those who require a coin locker, there are free ones in the center for you to use (^_-)-☆.

Matsu no Yu Community Center’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • The center opens from 9:30 am to 6 pm daily
    • It closes from the end of December to the beginning of January.

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions on Nakamachi Komise Street.

Kuroishi Fire Brigade Third Division Fire Tower (黒石市消防団第三分団屯所)

When you stroll around Nakamachi Komise Street, you might notice this old red building with Japanese and Western elements.

Its history goes back as far as 1924. The wooden structured fire station with a fire pump truck has been used since 1971. Since then, other newer model fire trucks are currently parked in its garage!

Although exploring the tower’s interior is impossible, how about snapping a photo with it?

Yokomachi Kaguji Square (横町かぐじ広場)

Ⓒ Aomori Prefecture

The Yokomachi Kaguji Square was only opened in April 1997 as a resting place for both locals and tourists.

Locating just at the back of Nakamachi Komise Street, in addition to the public toilets and a small playground, there is also this love monument.

Since its establishment, it has been a popular spot among young individuals looking for a good and long-lasting relationship. If you manage to throw a coin into that small heart-shaped golden apple, you will meet that person who is a good match for you!

Click HERE to return to a list of attractions on Nakamachi Komise Street.

Other Attractions in Kuroishi City

In addition to Nakamachi Komise Street, Kuroishi City has more destinations worth your time, such as Nakano Momijiyama for vivid fall colors and a Kokeshi Dolls museum.

For more information, please refer to our article on Kuroishi City!

Click the photo to find out about other interesting attractions in Hirosaki!

Discover the Awesome Attractions in Hirosaki City Close by

Click the photo to find out about other awesome attractions in Hirosaki!

If you plan to visit Kuroishi City from Tokyo, you will probably pass through Hirosaki, one of the best cities in Aomori Prefecture!

Find out more of our other recommended spots around the park with our Hirosaki City article (≧▽≦).

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