Second Hometown

Second Hometown

Mr. Victor Carpenter

What is it that attracts me most to Hirosaki?

I grew up in a medium-sized city in the United States (Kalamazoo, Michigan). I've always liked the cultural attractions of urban life ? the universities, the concerts and the night life. But I also like to be within minutes of the countryside. In Hirosaki, you can hop on your bicycle and before you know it you are surrounded by apple orchards and rice paddies.

Hirosaki in a word

"Dote-bura" ? Dotemachi was the main shopping street when I moved here 25 years ago. Late in the afternoon I would escape the confines of my office, take a slow “bura-bura” walk down Dote-machi and then drop into one of my favorite coffee shops for a caffeine jolt and some local gossip.

Recommendations to the visitor

When guests come to town and the weather is nice, I head straight to Hirosaki Park. I usually start from the Higashi Mon (East Gate) and after an hour-or-so stroll, exit through the Kame-no-Ko Mon (Tortoise Shell Gate) at the north end of the Park. If my guests are still willing to walk we amble around the samurai house preservation area across the street from the Kame-no-Ko Mon and then move on to Neputa-Mura to enjoy a tour of the Neputa museum, the folkcraft gallery and then indulge in a little snack at one of the food stalls.

Mr. Alvar Hugosson(Gothenburg, Sweden)

What is it that attracts me most to Hirosaki?

Coming from a fairly big city on the Swedish west coast, it is hard to find things that remind me of my hometown here in Hirosaki. However, when I think about why I am still here after close to 15 years, what strikes me first is the neighborly atmosphere. The manageable size of the city and the endless access to nature and culture, together with the friendly people, creates an atmosphere to be found nowhere else .

Hirosaki in a word:

A word that I feel best reflects Hirosaki is "azumashii." It is a word used by the locals to express a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. With the pure water springing from the Shirakami beech forest, surrounded by apple orchards and the aura of a genuine castle town, combined with the warmth of its people, this pure and traditional "azumashii" city has to be experienced first hand.

Recommendations to the visitor:

When you visit Hirosaki, a trip to Ringo-Koen (Apple Park) is a most. Apples play a central role in the economic and cultural life of Hirosaki and this park is a good place to understand the many facets of apple production. Then, when the day turns to night, a new Hirosaki arises and a visit to one of the numerous "izakaya" (food & drinks / Japanese-style tapas) and/or shamisen bars must not be delayed. The following day, a bath in one of the many hot-springs in the vicinity will get you ready for another day filled with new discoveries of "azumashii" Hirosaki.

Hannah Sawada: New Zealand

What is it that attracts me most to Hirosaki?

Hirosaki is a closely-knit community, where advice and help is in plentiful supply.

Hirosaki in a word:

A city of keyagu, or friends, who generously share their garden produce, crafts and time.

Recommendations to the visitor:

A drive along “Apple Road” towards Mount Iwaki is pleasant in any season. You can stop off at Apple Park to experience apple picking in the fall, and take a look at an old farm house and farming implements from the past. A visit to the mystic precincts of Mt Iwaki Shrine at the foot of the mountain is a must, and the view of the city gained further up, breathtaking. My Days, My Dreams by Ishizaka Yojiro (translated by Hannah Joy Sawada, published by Rojosha, ISBN978-4-89993-040-2) is a heart-warming and humorous collection of stories from a boyhood spent in this city to read in bed at the end of a perfect day passed in the places he describes.

Diana Craciun,(Graduate student, Hirosaki Unicersity, Romania)

What I like in Hirosaki:

I come from Brasov, a big city in Romania. Brasov, like Hirosaki, is surrounded by mountains - the most emblematic of which is Mt. Tampa. I love the mountains and when I recall my hometown, the first image that comes to mind is that of my beloved mountain in its seasonal attire. Therefore, just looking up at Mt. Iwaki each morning makes me feel secure, comfortable, and at home. I should also mention that Iwaki-san serves as a weather forecaster, for its ‘cloud hat’ even on a sunny day can predict a change in the weather.

Although Hirosaki is well known for its Cherry Blossom Festival and Neputa Festival, the word that comes to my mind is "shiki" or the four seasons that bring a special beauty to this place. In the spring, the Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festival is the highlight of the tourist season. Hirosaki natives, however, have discovered also the beauty of the apple blossoms in Ringo K?en (Apple Park). If you are here when the apple trees are in bloom, it has become the second attraction of spring that no visitor should miss. Finally, the ‘Boys Festival’ in Niji-no-ko Park, not far from Hirosaki (in Kuroishi), would be a special occasion for a foreigner to savor a ‘piece’ of Japanese culture. In the summer, if one is looking for a cool place, Hirosaki Park is a ‘must’. After walking through the park, you should pay a visit to the temples in Shintera-machi and Shigemori. If you are in Hirosaki at the beginning of August, there is the Neputa Festival to be enjoyed. And, to keep in the festival mood, Hirosaki is the perfect jump-off spot for day trips to the Neputa festivals of neighboring communities, including the Kuroishi Neputa and the Goshogawara Tachi-neputa. Other possible daytrips include the “rice-paddy murals” that can be seen from the observation deck of the Inakadate Village office, Mt. Hakkoda and the Oirase Gorge, and the Shirakami Mountain World Heritage Site.

In the autumn you should return to Hirosaki to pay another visit to Ringo K?en. During the apple harvest, you can experience beauty and health at the same time: ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away!’ Then, if you head from the Park to Iwaki-san you can admire the k?y? - trees aflame with red and yellow leaves.

Finally, in the winter one can choose among many different ski slopes. So, no matter what the season, there is never a chance that you could get bored with the same landscape.

And don’t forget to sample the seasonal culinary delights when you visit Hirosaki!