A Pocket Guide to Hachinohe, Japan

Ticked off Tokyo and Kyoto? Set your sights on Hachinohe. Flying under the radar of most travellers, this thriving city is where the coast, culture and culinary traditions come together. We lift the (hotpot) lid on where to eat, drink and shop in Japan’s Northern Frontier.

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Rugged coastal trails. Sake-clear rivers flowing past farmhouses and craft breweries. Blossoming fruit orchards. Lively markets. Hachinohe is a smorgasbord of Japan's best bits: culture, cuisine and community. Oh, and a beautiful coast to boot.

Tucked into the northeastern Aomori Prefecture, well off the typical tourist trail, Hachinohe knits together a lively port city, thriving agricultural towns and the kind of pioneering villages where green tourism is blossoming. It punches well above weight in the culinary and cultural stakes. Once a base of the ancient Nanbu clan, which ruled for more than 700 years until the mid-19th century, the area continues to use techniques that originally brought prosperity to the area. These are trades passed down through generations.

Epicurean travellers, take note. Farmers, low-key restaurants and thrumming market stalls serve up Hachinohe's natural larder - a garlic-centric tasting menu should be near the top of your agenda. Dip into boutique sake breweries, sample kuraishi beef, gorge on just-caught seafood, eat sashimi shoulder-to-shoulder with locals and visit culinary artisans to learn how they honed their crafts at community-hosted workshops. Enough food? Trace wildflower-flecked coastal trails, stroll through towns rich in historical artifacts (and the odd cat mural), explore the Nejo castle remains and try your hand at age-old crafts.

Easily reachable in under three hours via bullet train from Tokyo, Hachinohe is a sweet spot that'll immerse you in Japanese culture. We've consulted locals, trodden coastal trails, scoffed our way through markets and quaffed a (questionable) amount of craft sake to bring you the best places to stay and play in Hachinohe.

For more information and to get planning, visit visithachinohe.com.


Tanesashi Natural Lawn

A cluster of bunting-lined tents overlooking the lush coastline await at this well-equipped glamping site in Sanriku Fukkō National Park. Unfurl tent doors to be greeted with swathes of wildflower fields and miles of uninterrupted shores. Days are best spent following the 5km walking trail that loops around the grounds or booking onto the morning yoga class, followed by evening bonfires and barbecues laden with locally sourced ingredients under starlit skies. The best bit? Your tent is pre-pitched ahead of your arrival.


Aza Tanakubo, Oaza Samemachi, Hachinohe City, Aomori 031-0841


Makiba Onsen

We’re making tracks to this traditional ryokan mainly for its food. Kuraishi beef, an award-winning type of wagyu reared in the area and Shamorock chicken, a breed of poultry commonly referred to as “chicken fit for an emperor” thanks to its complex flavour, are both menu staples. Best paired with Kikukoma sake, Gonohe’s local brand. Before you bed down, take advantage of the restorative hot springs.


Azanashirozawa-3, Gonohe, Sannohe-gun, Aomori 039-1522


Nanbu Homestay and Farming Experience

Pioneers in community tourism, the small countryside town of Nanbu is known across Japan for its fruit farming and agriculture. Locals have worked hard to help guests immerse themselves in everyday life here by opening farms and homes to travellers. Roll up your sleeves and tend to livestock, harvest fruit or forage through the countryside for ingredients to whip up a home-cooked meal.


The Aomori Nanbu Tassha Village NPO