Before heading to Hachinohe, we start the day with a walk around Kuroishi, another place that has seen better days. It features a number of dead or dying shops, mixed with interesting remnants of the old town’s former important position and prosperity.
The original streets feature covered walkways (komise) to protect the punters from snow during the winter months. Traditional fire towers feature prominently and we noted an old onsen place with free entry but quite what was on free offer I am not sure as we didn’t enter so early in the day.
The road past Sukayu Onsen
From Kuroishi we took the road over the mountains past Sukayu Onsen. This is a delightful road of dappled beech woods but, at this time of year, was without the blaze of gold that so impressed us as we passed this way in autumn, two years earlier.
At this point, we develop a problem with our electronics. The cigarette lighter socket gives up supplying electricity to our inverter so we cannot charge any of our devices and we have no navi. This is a problem.
On arrival in Hachinohe, where we intend to see the Sansha Taisai festival, we drop into Honda Auto Terrace. They obligingly sort out the problem and replace a part though not the correct part which they don’t have but with something that fits. This is while we wait, drinking iced coffee and eating chocolate biscuits. The charge 3240 yen, seems reasonable.
From Honda, we get lost in the Hachinohe industrial docklands as we search for the campsite where we intend to stay. Giving this up as time is pressing, we eventually park in the festival parking provided by the city. This costs 700 yen and is a short walk into the city to the Sansha festival route.
Hachinohe Sansha Taisai
Float parade ; August 1&3 15:00 ~
August 2 18:00 ~
The atmosphere is different from Hirosaki Neputa. The participants do not seem to be enjoying themselves. This is not true of all, but many appear just exhausted. The floats are truly spectacular.
Towering creations that open like fans and rise like umbrellas, spouting steam and flashing illuminations, expanding into ever more vivid and dramatic displays. Here are samurai, tigers, skeletons, ghosts, deities, dragons, horses, foxes, fish, monks and every conceivable symbol from Shinto, Buddhism and folklore all presented in polystyrene and the subtle shades of the pachinko parlour. Fabulously over the top. Straight from the streets of this industrial city that pioneered the dressed trucks of the 1970’s.
It is all over within two hours so it is barely dark, with the last stains of sunset still in the sky as we walk back to the car. We get out of Hachinohe with much less difficulty and delay than expected and soon arrive at michi-no-eki Hashikami on route 45. (elevation ; 120m)
Go and see it for yourself !!
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.