Let’s ask Eiko Watanabe, mayor of Hokuto city,
“An Abundant, Healthy and Happy Hokuto!”
Hokuto city won the first price as most favorite location on the “Wanting to live countryside” ranking 2018 (Small towns ranking).
In January 2018, mayor Watanabe launched the slogan, ” A Treasure rich, Healthy and Happy Hokuto”. Expressing the intention to aim for a “Furusato Hokuto” (hometown Hokuto), promoting policies for child support and employment security, and creating easy to live and affluent conditions in this natural environment.
From the many “treasures” we will this time focus on three of them: fruit, skating, and Jomon archaeological sites.
The ice-rink in the forest offers the highest quality of air and ice!
“In the past, rice fields and school grounds where turned into ice rinks. Skating was part of the physical education program during the winter period.” Skating is a specialty of Hokuto. It is said that the fine and uniform ice quality of the “Yatsugatake skating Center” in Kobuchizawa town is the foundation for a record setting ice rink. Because of its low oxygen concentration at 1100 meters altitude, Hokuto city is often chosen as a training camp location for respiratory training. Not only for skating, but also for other sports. Moreover, it is said that the air pressure is close to the pressure inside a mother’s womb, which is thought to stimulate mental stability.
The bountiful blessings of nature’s fruits
“Besides referring to the beauty of the natural environment, I would also like to give attention to the beauty of what is produced by the people”, says the mayor passionately. The excellent environmental conditions such as the length of sunshine hours, fertile soil, famous spring water, and the difference in day and night temperatures, bring forth outstanding sweet fruits and tasty vegetables. Hokuto city not only produces grapes and blueberries, it also successfully cultivates fruits such as pears, cherries and strawberries. The production of mangoes is also taking off, so, keep an eye out.
For body and mind; a prosperous place to live from ancient times
The Umenoki ruins, with the remains of a village tracing back to the Jomon period about 5000 years ago, were designated as National Historic Sites in 2014. There are several Jomon ruins discovered in the city, offering valuable clues about how life must have been during this period. “The relationship between the river and spring water, and the settlement can clearly be seen from location of the village on the plateau, the path to the river flowing below the settlement, and the houses on the river banks. The fact that people already lived here more than 5000 years ago and that the remains were not destroyed, is an indication of the safety and security of the area.” As a place for propagation Hokutoshi has turned the Umenoki ruins into a park. “To that end, I’d like to make this a place where everybody can experience and participate in activities such as making pit dwellings. Certain techniques used are superior to those used today. For example the pit houses, the technical strength of stoneware and the artistry of their pottery. I hope that our children, who will be responsible for the future, acquire different perspectives through these experiences.”
5000 years ago, Japan was prosperous!?
The Yatsugatake Jomon culture
During the middle Jomon period (about 4500 ~ 5500 years ago) the population in the Yatsugatake area in particular was dense compared to the rest of the Japanese archipelago. Many ruins are excavated, and the local archaeological museums display Jomon pottery and stoneware. Why don’t you go and visit one of the archaeological museums nearby on your trip. Watching the authentic artifacts will give you an impression of the live style during that period.
Hokuto city – archaeological museum
Exhibited are a lot of Jomon earthenware, a jade necklace and many artifacts excavated from ruins found in the city. The museum is adjacent to the ruins of the Yatto castle, which is regarded as the mountain castle of the Kai Genji (Genji is another name for the Minamoto clan), to which the Takeda clan was related. The promenade offers a magnificent view on the Yatsugatake and Southern Alps.
Hara village – history folk customs data hall (Yatsugatake museum of art)
The artwork exhibited consists mainly of work by sculptor Takashi Shimizu from Haramura, and pottery and stoneware excavated from the ruins of the Jomon village. The museum buildings are characterized by the many dome-shaped buildings.
Nobeyama – Minamimaki village Art and Folk Museum
Exhibited are numerous fine stone tools found at the Yadegawa ruins on the Nobeyama plateau. Most date back to around 14,000 years ago, at the end of the Paleolithic age,
Sliver stone blades used for hunting and other stone tools from the Jomon period are lined up.
Fujimi – Idojiri Archaeological Museum
Approximately 2000 items of pottery and stoneware from about 8000 to 2300 years ago are exhibited. The intricate patterns on the earthen pottery and figures show an interesting take on religions ideas, world view and myths.
Nirasaki Municipal Folk Museum
The museum exhibits local folklore and archaeological objects, ranging from a 20,000 years old paleolithic knife, to a color TV from the Showa 40’s era (1960s). The clay figure excavated at the Ushiroda Ruins was once lent to the British Museum.
Mayor Eiko Watanabe
Mrs. Watanabe was born in Kobuchisawa in Hokuto city. She worked as a teacher in Elementary and high schools. Started agricultural farming at the age of 42. After being a member of the Nagasaka Town Council, and Hokuto municipal council, she assumed the position of mayor in November 2016.