VIDEO| Virtual Vacation: Hanamaki, Japan

Photo courtesy of Hanamaki City
Photo courtesy of Hanamaki City

VIDEO| Virtual Vacation: Hanamaki, Japan

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Korea

Welcome to virtual vacation video series where we can explore destinations from the comfort of our homes. Join us as we take a short virtual journey to Hanamaki Japan.

The great thing about this destination is that it is easily accessible from Tokyo within 3.5 hours via the Shinkansen bullet train, which runs up to 200 miles per hour. From Misawa, Hanamaki is only a 2.5-hour drive away.

Blessed with beautiful forestry, rivers and rice fields, Hanamaki is home to retro hot springs and a traditional summer festival. One of Japan’s representing poets and fantasy writers, Kenji Miyazawa, was born and raised in the city. And two major league baseball players, Shohei Ohtani and Yusei Kikuchi, are also notable sons of Hanamaki. The open, pastoral, relaxing atmosphere and extremely clean air and water makes Hanamaki a great place for walking and sightseeing.

Some of the must-see spots in Hanamaki include:
•    Miyazawa Kenji Museum— Sitting on a grassy property and surrounded by large trees, Miyazawa Kenji museum displays the local hero’s manuscripts, letters and books, along with numerous panels explaining the writer’s life, thoughts and works in detail. You can check out an impressive view of farmhouses’ gray tiled-roofs, the flow of the Kitakami River and endless fields of rice from an observatory deck on the property. At the end of the museum garden, there is a Western-style restaurant, “Yamanekoken,” or wildcat house, which is based on Miyazawa’s children’s book. Here, you can sample various tasty local dishes in a spacious bungalow-looking interior.

•   Hanamaki Matsuri— This festival has over four centuries of history and takes place on the second weekend of September every year. The festival boasts more than 150 mikoshi portable shrines and 20 floats parading throughout the entire city, making a spectacular sight. While 30 or more people pull each dashi float made up of human figures and flowers in the parade, you can enjoy the sights as well as many food and game booths set up for this festival.

•    Hanamaki Onsen— Three miles away from the city center, Hanamaki Onsen, located by scenic hills, is one of the most popular hot spring resorts in the northern Japan. You can enjoy a hot soak in the spa while enjoying the view of a large, beautiful rose garden designed by Poet Miyazawa that is surrounded by pristine forests.   
While you're there, don't forget to sample local “Platinum Pork,” as it has an extremely tender, chewy texture and sweet, profound flavor that only high-end pork has to offer. 

I hope you enjoyed a look at Hanamaki through my travel photos and that it's inspired your next trip. Stay safe and get ready to travel with us in our next video. Thanks for watching!

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