The northern most peninsula of the main island of Japan: Tsugaru-Peninsula

Off The Beaten Track - Goshogawara-city

The flowing water running down from Iwakisan, the holy mountain of the Tsugaru region grows into Iwaki River and nurtures abundant life along its streams. The rice paddy that stretches from its basins is the source of richness enjoyed in Goshogawara and Kanaki. Although winter here could bring you difficulties like drifting snow preventing you from reaching one place to another, it is a wintering destination for wans. After spending their winter in Japan, they return to Siberia during late March. If you are lucky, you may be able to come across a mass flock of swans flying north. From May through September, all the way through rice planting till rice harvesting, you can experience a variety of pleasant smell of rice stalks carried in the wind.

1. West Tsugaru Peninsula

The flowing water running down from Iwakisan, the holy mountain of the Tsugaru region grows into Iwaki River and nurtures abundant life along its streams. The rice paddy that stretches from its basins is the source of richness enjoyed in Goshogawara and Kanaki. Although winter here could bring you difficulties like drifting snow preventing you from reaching one place to another, it is a wintering destination for swans. After spending their winter in Japan, they return to Siberia during late March. If you are lucky, you may be able to come across a mass flock of swans flying north. From May through September, all the way through rice planting till rice harvesting, you can experience a variety of pleasant smell of rice stalks carried in the wind.

Point of Interest 1―Takayama Inari Shrine

On top of a hill, an extraordinary scene spreads before visitors with hundreds of red shrine gates lined one after another. At the Takayama Inari Shrine, the enshrined god is the god of rice, and furthermore, the god of agriculture and prosperity in business. It is guarded by fox statues sent from gods. Its most distinctive feature is the rows of dedicated crimson shrine gates to wish prayers would come true. The extensiveness of the lined up gates at the shrine shows how passionately venerated it is. Climbing up 100 steps from the parking lot reveals the inner sanctuary and further into the vast grounds of the shrine, there appears a Japanese garden with the red gates. Through the gates, there is the best photo spot. Further beyond, there rests countless foxes statues and hokora shrines that have fulfilled their services in other inari shrines in villages. You can visit the shrine by a 30 minute drive from Tachineputa Museum or a 20 minute drive from Tsugaru Shamisen Kaikan.

Point of Interest 2―Jusan Lake and Shiura History and Folk Museum

Jusan Lake is a boundless brackish lake spreading on the mouth of the Iwaki River. The biggest port city of northern Japan flourished here during the middle ages. Folklores say that the city vanished due to a tsunami but it was found that a war caused it to fall. On an island connected by a long wooden bridge from a parking area located on the north west of the lake, there is the Shiura History and Folk Museum ex-plaining how the city prospered with its displays (English descriptions unavailable). Jusan Lake is well-known for its popular product, shijimi clams and you can see locals enjoy shijimi clam digging in the season. Get here in 20 minutes by car from Takayama Inari Shrine, or a 40 minute drive from Tachineputa Museum.

Jusan Lake and the wooden bridge which connects the island in the lake

Further Afield―Shijimi Ramen

In Japan, shijimi clams are popular as the main ingredient of miso soup. It is also a superfood that contains large amounts of ornithine that aids liver functions. Those harvested at Jusan Lake are exceptionally larger and richer in taste than the average clams. A 3 minute walk from the parking area near the wooden bridge, you would arrive at Wakayama guesthouse where they serve their popular menu, Shijimi Ramen. Heaps of shijimi clams from Jusan Lake are served in simple but very rich broth full of umami. The soup is made from only locally harvested shijimi and dried kelp (no alcohol is used in cooking). Since Waka-yama is right next to the fishing port, if you spend the night there, you will be able to see a spectacle of over 100 small boats racing out to fish shijimi clams at 7 in the morning.

Wakayama guesthouse and its specialty Shijimi Ramen

2. Notes

Takayama Inari Shrine(Japanese language site)

Address: Ushigatacho, Tsugaru, Aomori Prefecture, 038-3305b
Tel: +81-(0)173-56-2015
Open year round for visits, no admission fee

Shiura History and Folk Museum(only in Japanese)

Address: 14-3, Jusan Tosachinai, Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture, 037-0403b
Tel: +81-(0)173-62-2775
Opening times: Apr to Nov 9:00~16:00
Closed: Dec 1 to Mar 31
Admission: JPY 300

Wakayama Guesthouse(Japanese language site)

Address: 133-22, Jusan Hagurozaki, Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture, 037-0403b
Tel: +81-(0)173-62-2357
Restaurant hours: Apr to Oct 10:00〜18:00, Nov to Mar 10:00~17:00
Special Shijimi Ramen: JPY 1,000b
Accommodation for 1 night with 2 meals: from JPY 7,800 (cash only)

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