Visit the National Treasure Clay Figure and the Michelangelo sculptures in Echigo! Explore the traditional townscape and historic highways! Embark on a Journey to visit must-see treasures

Autumn is the perfect season for appetite, Art, and a journey. Why not immerse yourself in the historical world by visiting ancient clay figures, sculptures, ruins, traditional townscapes, and tunnels of old Maple trees with stunning autumn foliage? Although they belong to different eras, each of these treasures is exceptionally well-preserved, allowing us to experience the history that has been passed down from generations to generations.

This trip starts from Hachinohe Station. We will take the Tohoku Shinkansen south, transfer at Sendai Station, then head to Nishinasuno Station on the local line. From there, we will take the Shinkansen from Nasushiobara Station to Omiya Station, then transfer to the Joetsu Shinkansen to Nagaoka Station, followed by the local line to Sanjo Station. To get to Fukui Station, we will take the Shinkansen to Kanazawa Station and then take a limited express train. Since traveling by car is faster from Nishinasuno to Sanjo and Fukui, we recommend changing transportation methods while checking transportation information.

“Korekawa Jomon Museum”

A National Treasure “Gassho clay figure" and numerous excavated artifacts show the high craftsmanship of the Jomon period

There are several significant archaeological sites in Hachinohe City, including the Korekawa Site, which is a World Heritage “Jomon Prehistoric Site in Northern Japan” known for its brilliant lacquerware and elaborate Jomon period pottery. Another site of note is the Kazabari 1 Site, where the National Treasure "Gassho clay figure" was discovered. The highly artistic lacquerware and clay figures displayed at the Korekawa Jomon Museum (pictured) in the Hachinohe City Cultural Heritage Center convey the rich culture that flourished among the people of that time, who lived by hunting, gathering, and fishing. In addition, the “Ne Castle” built in 1334 (Kemmu 1), is a flatland castle consisting of eight sections, including the Honmaru. For about 300 years until it was transferred to Tono in 1627 (Kanei 4), it prospered as the center of the Hachinohe region. Currently, the castle has been restored with buildings from the Azuchi-Momoyama period and has been selected as one of Japan's Top 100 Castles.

Archaeological Heritage Center Korekawa Jomon Museum
The Korekawa Jomon Museum, adjacent to the Korekawa Site, conducts excavations within the city and showcases excavated items, disseminating the excellent Jomon culture of the Tohoku region. The highlight of the exhibition is the "Gassho clay figure" (pictured), which was excavated from the Kazabari 1 site in July 1989 (Heisei 1) and was designated as a National Treasure in July 2009 (Heisei 21). In addition, numerous excavated items from the Jomon period, such as lacquerware and wooden products, are displayed, showcasing the high level of craftsmanship at that time. Every Sunday, Jomon experience workshops are held, where visitors can try fire making and make fragrant balls (reservations are not required, but group use is not permitted, and the cost of making fragrant balls starts from 300 yen). The museum is conveniently located just a short walk from the "Korekawa Jomon Museum" bus stop, which can be reached by taking a Nanbu Bus from Hachinohe Station (direct buses are available only on weekends and holidays).


Address: 1 Yokoyama, Korekawa, Hachinohe-shi, Aomori Archaeological Heritage Center Korekawa Jomon Museum

“Oyama Sando” in Nasushiobara City

Busy spot during the autumn foliage season. Line of 100-year-old maple trees to Oyama Iwao gravesite

Nasushiobara is a place with over 1200 years of history and many hot springs "Shiobara Onsen" and the therapeutic hot spring "Itamuro Onsen," which has been counted as one of the Nasu Seven Hot Springs since ancient times. After the Nasu Aqueduct was developed during the Meiji period, nobles and aristocrats pushed for development, leading to rapid growth in the area. "Historic Limestone Cavern Genzankutsu" is located in the Shiobara Onsen area in the northern mountainous region of Tochigi Prefecture. Inside the cave formed by volcanic activity, there is a waterfall and the "Genji's Hidden Cave" where Genji exiles hid from Minamoto no Yoritomo. It’s a popular spot. It is also a place that was loved by General Oayama Iwao, also known as Oyama Gensui, one of the founders of the Meiji Army and former Chief of Staff; his grave can be found there. The "Oyama Sando" (pictured) is a tourist destination that many people visit, especially during the autumn leaves season (mid to late November).

“Line of maple trees” of Oyama Sando
During the Meiji era, a statesman named Oyama Iwao (formerly a samurai and duke from the Satsuma domain) owned a 273-chobu farm (about 271 hectares) in the Nishi-Nasuno area and built a villa on a corner of the property. When Oyama passed away in 1916, he was buried in this location honoring his will, as he deeply loved this land. His grave was then built on a corner of his farm. Afterward, an approach to the grave was constructed, and Japanese cypress trees were planted to the north of Otawara Highway (about 100 meters long), while maples, cherry blossoms, azaleas, and other plants were planted to the south (18 meters wide and 200 meters long). Cherry trees were planted every other tree, but unfortunately, they withered and were cut down. In 1955, the approach was donated to the former Nishi-Nasuno town by the Oyama family and has been known as Oyama Park ever since. The approach that extends east-west through the park offers beautiful autumn foliage during the fall season (pictured). Touring bicycles can be rented (for free) from Nishi-Nasuno Station that’s nearby.


Address: Around 2-3 Shimonagata, Nasushiobara-shi, Tochigi

“Honjoji Temple Head Temple of the Hokke Sect” in Sanjo City

A temple linked to Ishikawa Uncho called the Michelangelo of Echigo. Meet his works and grave.

The traditional craft of Sanjo blacksmithing in Sanjo City originated in 1625 (Kanei 2), when Otani Kiyobei, who served as a magistrate for three years in Sanjo, invited nail blacksmiths from Edo to teach and encourage the production of Japanese nails as a secondary occupation for farmers suffering from river flooding. The city has since continued to inherit the tradition of craftsmanship, with facilities available for blacksmithing experiences. It is also known as the city loved by Ishikawa Uncho, who was called the "Michelangelo of Echigo". The temple where Uncho's grave is located and is the head temple of the Hokke Sect, Honjoji (pictured), still displays some of his works, attracting many fans to visit.

“Art pieces of Ishikawa Uncho” of Honjoji Temple
Ishikawa Uncho, whose real name was Ishikawa Yasubei, was born in 1814 (Bunka 11) in Zoshigaya, Tokyo. He mastered the secrets of Edo engraving in his early twenties and was granted permission to take a surname and carry a sword. At around the age of 30, he was encouraged by the hardware merchant Uchiyama Matagoro to move to Echigo, where he settled in Sanjo and continued his artistic activities in the surrounding areas. He became the son-in-law of the Sakai family in Sanjo with the help of Uchiyama and became a resident of Echigo. Uncho worked on the Ranma (decorative transom) and memorial halls of the main hall at Honjoji Temple and left many works at the sub-temples, but most of them were lost in repeated fires, and his image and records were also lost. However, valuable works are preserved in the temple, such as the red cow (pictured), monkey figurines in the sub-temples (some are not open to the public), and precious works on the gate and the pent roof of the temple. The temple is also Uncho's family temple, and his grave is located behind the main hall. It is a spot where you can enjoy Uncho's works, rich in Edo culture and creativity. The access to Honjoji Temple is a 15-minute walk from Sanjo Station on the JR Shinetsu Line. There are also guided tours available by the Sanjo Uncho Association.


Address: 1-1-20 Nishihonjoji, Sanjo-shi, Niigata

“Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins” in Fukui City

The special historic site designated by Mie Prefecture. You can see the almost perfect condition of the town layout including Samurai residences, and temples.

Fukui City began to take shape as a castle town during the time of the warlord Katsuhisa Shibata, starting from the era of Kitanosho Castle in the Sengoku period. By the Edo period, it had grown into a major castle town with a Kokudaka (feudal income) of 680,000 koku. After going through a period of Shinpan governance that involved changing its name from "福居" to "福井” in Kanji, the city still remains the center of the prefectural government with the Fukui Prefectural Office located on the site of Fukui Castle. During the Edo period, Fukui was one of the largest cities in Japan, and with the influence of cultured people who moved from Ichijodani after the fall of the Asakura clan, it was known for its splendid culture and events. The cultural legacy can still be seen today at the “Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins” (pictured).

“Restored Townscape” of Ichijodani Asakura Clan Ruins
Asakura clan, currently from Yabu in Hyogo prefecture, was a powerful family during the Nanboku-cho period. Asakura Hirokage followed Shibata Katsune and entered Echizen province. It was during the time of Asakura Takakage that they moved their base to Ichijodani following the outbreak of the Onin War. They expelled the Shiba and Kai clans and accomplished the suppression of Echizen province. From then on, the Asakura clan prospered as the center of Echizen province for 103 years and through five generations: Takakage, Ujikage, Sadakage, Takakage, and Yoshikage. Ichijodani was known as the "Northern Kyoto," visited by cultural people such as nobles and monks from Kyoto and Nara. However, during the wars for the unification of Japan, the Asakura clan was defeated by Oda Nobunaga in 1573 (Tensho1), and the castle town was burned down. Excavation surveys of the ruins began in 1967 (Showa 42nd), and in 1971 (Showa 46), an area of 278 hectares including Ichijodani Castle, was designated as a National Special Historic Site. In 1991 (Heisei 3), four gardens, namely Suwa-yakata Ruins Garden, Yudono Ruins Garden, Yakata Ruins Garden, and Nanyoji Temple Site Garden, were designated as Special Scenic spots. Furthermore, in 2007 (Heisei 19), 2,343 excavated artifacts were selected as Important Cultural Properties. Located about a 30-minute walk from Ichijodani Station or a 30-minute bus ride from the center of Fukui City.


Address: Kidonouchicho, Fukui-shi, Fukui

Four places where you can experience the history that has been stored carefully since a long time ago

While it's great to see works of art in textbooks and brochures, there's nothing quite like experiencing ”history” with your own eyes. By witnessing historical artifacts and structures in person, you can truly appreciate the skill and cultural richness of the people who created them.

All prices mentioned in the article include taxes. The selling price will change without prior notice.