Yurihonjo (由利本荘市 Yurihonjō-shi) is a city in southern Akita Prefecture. It was formed in 2005 by the merger of many towns: Chokai, Higashi Yuri, Nishime, Iwaki, Honjo, Yashima, and Yuri.
Yurihonjo was formed by a merger of several towns, yet those towns are still largely oriented around themselves. And since Yurihonjo is very large, in terms of area, people living in the SE may know nothing about people living in the NW, for example. Honjo (本荘) is in the west of Yurihonjo. To the south of Honjo is Nishime (西目). To the north of Honjo are Matsugasaki (松ヶ崎), Kameda (亀田), and Iwaki (岩城). Ouchi (大内) is NE of Honjo. Higashi Yuri (東由利) is east of Honjo. In the SE are Yuri (由利), Yashima (矢島), and Chokai (鳥海). Chokai is composed of three villages, Kawauchi (川内), Hitane, (直根), and Jinego (笹子).
Honjo, located at the heart of Yurihonjo, is a city surrounded by hills ("Dewa-kyuryo"), plateaus ("Yuri-hara") and the sea. It is believed that the area of Honjo was under the sea about 1,000,000 years ago and that its higher zones started gradually emerging some 500,000 years later. By 3000 B.C., some large villages had been formed at the foot of the Dewa-kyuryo.
The name Yuri appeared for the first time in "Azumakagami", a book written around 1200. The Yuri clan was a powerful family who governed Nikaho, Yashima, Koyoshi and other neighboring districts. Their territories, however, were confiscated by the government in 1213, and for the following 400 years up to 12 clans ruled over the area together. In the early 17th century, the area was disputed between the government and the local clans. It finally became the property of the Rokugo clan from Ibaraki in 1623 and remained so for about 250 years.
There once was a castle in Honjo, located on the site of today's Honjo Park. As a matter of fact, the old way of writing Honjo, 本城, means "main castle". However this castle can no longer be seen as it was burnt down in 1868 by the members of the Rokugo clan themselves at the end of their reign.
On April 1, 1889, the district officially gained the name "Honjo Town". On March 31, 1954, the town merged with the villages of Koyoshi, Otomo, Ishizawa, Minami-utetsu, Kita-utetsu and Matsugazaki. Then, on March 22, 2005, Honjo Town merged again with 7 other small towns of the area to become "Yurihonjo City".
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July is the rainy season, with regular afternoon showers. The spring and summer before and after that have less rain, and are therefore good for outdoor activities. In November, cold weather thunder storms are said to mark the end of fall and the beginning of hatahata (a local fish) season. In the winter, the coastal areas of Yurihonjo get a little snow, and the inland areas get a lot, which makes for good skiing and snowboarding.
Depending where you're going, a car is probably your best bet.
Within Akita, cars are the most convenient way to get around. Highway 7 connects Honjo with Akita to the north, by way of Iwaki, and Nikaho to the south, by way of Nishime. Highway 105 connects Honjo to Daisen in the NE, by way of Ouchi. Highway 107 connects Honjo to Ugo and Yokote in the east, by way of Higashi Yuri. Highway 108 connects Honjo to Yuzawa in the SE, by way of Yuri, Yashima and Chokai. There are several small highways through the mountains, but some of them are seasonal or are closed for long-term repairs, so ask someone locally and check. In the winter, the roads can be snowy and icy, and the mountain areas — Chokai, for example — get tons of snow.
From Ugohonjo Station in Honjo, the Akebono night train goes direct to Tokyo, and the Nihonkai night train goes direct to Kyoto. The nearest shinkansen stations are the Komachi Shinkansen in Akita or Omagari, and the Tsubasa Shinkansen in Shinjo, northern Yamagata. Both of these shinkansen lines go to Tokyo. There are many daily trains going north and south out of Honjo. There is also a private train line that goes from Ugohonjo Station to Yashima, by way of Yuri.
- 1 Ugohonjo Station (羽後本荘駅 Ugohonjō-eki), Nishibonten 85-1, ☏ +81 184-22-0221. The main train station in Yurihonjo.
- 2 Yashima Station (矢島駅 Yashima-eki), Hazaka, Nanokamachi, Yashima (2 blocks SW of the Yashima Police Station, and well-signed), ☏ +81 184 56-2036. 05:30-21:10. The terminus of the Yuri Kogen Railway. This station has a large sitting area and a computer with free internet.
- Yuri Kogen Railway (由利高原鉄道 Yurikōgen tetsudō), Hazaka 21-2, Nanokamachi, Yashima, ☏ +81 184 56-2736, fax: +81 184 56-2850, email@example.com. This railway runs from Ugohonjo Station to Yashima by way of Yuri. Trains leave around once an hour; see the website for the schedule.
Night buses go from Tokyo to Yurihonjo. Several bus companies offer this service. Check the websites or ask at the bus station for more information.
- 3 Ugokotsu Bus Station (羽後交通), Sakanamachi 45 (Half a block west of Hotel Iris.), ☏ +81 184 24-2440, firstname.lastname@example.org. Night buses go to and from Tokyo. There are other bus routes to various places in Akita, as well.
- JR Bus Tohoku (ジェアールバス東北), ☏ +81 184 24-2440 (Ugokotsu Station), +81 24-534-2011 (JR Bus Tohoku office). The line connecting Honjo and Tokyo is called "Chokai Dream". Passengers can board at Ugohonjo Station, Ugokotsu Bus Station, and several other locations in the area.
- [dead link] Orion Bus (オリオンバス), ☏ +81 570 00-2020. Runs nightly buses connecting Honjo and Tokyo.
In Honjo, biking and walking are feasible. There are a few buses each day connecting outlying towns. Iwaki, Nishime, Yuri, and Yashima can be reached by train from Honjo. Taxis and daiko are available, but they're very expensive for outlying areas. Traveling by car is convenient, and parking is rarely a problem.
There are several daily buses connecting Honjo to Higashi-Yuri. Buses also go from Honjo to Yashima several times a day, continuing to Kawauchi and Jinego in Chokai. Though there are buses going from Honjo to Iwaki and Nikaho, the train is probably more convenient. The train station has timetables for local buses.
- Yurihonjo Transportation (由利本荘市公共交通情報). Bus listings for Yurihonjo.
- 1 Akata Giant Buddha (赤田大仏 Akata daibutsu), Uwadaomote 115, Akata (on Route 69, several kilometers south of the rest area in Ouchi), ☏ +81 184 22-1349. A large Buddha statue. Free.
- 2 Honjo Culture Hall (本荘文化会館 Honjō bunkakaikan), Mikuramachi 30, Honjo (1 block west of Max Valu and 1 block SW of the large pink hospital), ☏ +81 184 22-3033. This building is the only large auditorium in Yurihonjo. It hosts many kinds of shows, such as dance shows, concerts, and karaoke contests.
- 3 Honjo Park (本荘公園 Honjō kōen), Honjo. Have a picnic. In April or May, watch cherry blossoms in the park.
- 4 Hottai Waterfall (法体の滝 Hottai no taki), Momoyake, Chokai (follow road signs from Yashima or Kawauchi), ☏ +81 184 57-2207. A large waterfall with picnic and camping area and restaurant in Momoyake, Hitane, Chokai. There is also a 2-km hiking trail. The facilities are closed in winter, and the road is not plowed. However, the road is plowed in Momoyake until the last 2 km, so one can easily walk in on snowshoes.
- 5 Iwaki Local History Museum (岩城歴史民俗資料館 Iwaki rekishi minzoku shiryōkan), Tamachi 41, Kamedamachi, Kameda, Iwaki (from Honjo, go several kilometers north, and then turn east towards Kameda; there's a large tower that's visible from afar), ☏ +81 184 72-2048. This reconstructed village has some museum buildings with old clothes, weapons, scrolls, and, oddly, biology research. There are also some reconstructed buildings, as well as old looms and blacksmith tools. Next to the reconstructed village there's a large tower, surrounded by a small moat. There's a restaurant and gift shop on the first floor, and the top floor has nice views of Kameda. No English is spoken, but the ticket window has an English language handout that describes each of the buildings. If the employees have time, they can demonstrate how some of the tools are used. ¥400 for adults.
- 6 One Thousand Jizō (千体地蔵 Sentai jizō) (from the Ouchi Rest Area, take Highway 107 east a few hundred meters, then turn north on Highway 69 and follow it for several kilometers; there are two parking lots and a small shop at the road, and the statues are just up the hill). See a thousand small statues on a path by the road.
- 1 Chokai Ballpark (鳥海球場 Chōkai kyū-jō), Nishino 108, Kami-Kawauchi (coming from Honjo, take Highway 108 past Yashima about 10 km after Yashima, there is a traffic light and crosswalk; about 100 m after that, turn right; the ballpark is on the right after 50 m), ☏ +81 184 57-2881. This ballpark hosts youth and adult baseball games.
- 2 Chokai Snowmobile Land (鳥海高原南由利原スノーモービルランド) (on the Chokai Plateau.), ☏ +81 184 53-2126. Dec-Mar W-Su 10:00-16:00. A snowmobile training and recreation area. Instructors can teach beginners, including children. Reservations necessary.
- 3 Hotel Foresta Chokai (フォレスタ鳥海), Okuyamamae 8-45, Sarukura (follow signs from Yashima or Kawauchi), ☏ +81 184 58-2888. Onsen and hotel on the base of Mt. Chokai. There are indoor and outdoor baths. Bring your own towel for bathing. ¥400.
- 4 Mt. Chokai (鳥海山 Chōkai-san) (follow Japanese road signs from Yashima). Climb Mt. Chokai from the Haraikawa Trailhead near Yashima. It takes around 4 hours to reach the summit, or 8 hours round trip. The mountain is 2236 m high. Hiking is free. To stay overnight at the summit lodge, you need to make reservations and pay.
- 5 Mt. Hinoto (丁岳 Hinoto-dake) (take Highway 108 to Jinego in Chokai; at the traffic light, turn west; follow the road perhaps 15 km to the trail head; signs in Japanese). Road closed in winter. A round trip climb up and down Mt. Hinoto takes around 5 hours. Get supplies in Jinego before going to the trail head. For a few kilometers leading to the trail head, the road is unpaved. The mountain is 1,145 m high. Free.
- 6 Noyake Onsen (野宅温泉), Noyake 14, Kami-Jinego (take Highway 70 SE from the Jinego Rest Area on Highway 108; it's north of the road after perhaps 6 km), ☏ +81 184-59-2336.
- 7 Shisuikan (紫水館), Kubo 193, Fushimi (from Momoya on Highway 108, drive 200 m towards Yuzawa; turn left and follow the road for 300 m until it runs into the Shisuikan), ☏ +81 184 57-3020. This community center often hosts public events, such as guest speakers and concerts.
- 8 Yunosawa Onsen (湯の沢温泉), Yunosawa 52, Sarukura (near Okojoland Ski Area in Sarukura, Hitane), ☏ +81 184 58-2188. This onsen is part of Hotel Masaka. It makes a nice stop after skiing at Okojoland Ski Area. ¥500 for adults.
- 9 [dead link] Kizakura Onsen Yurari (黄桜温泉・湯楽里), Hatakeda 28, Oikata (at the Higashiyuri Rest Area), ☏ +81 184 69-2611. Daily 09:00-21:00; closed 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month, or the following day if a national holiday. This is a large onsen. It has relaxing areas, baths, and an attached restaurant. ¥350.
- 10 Honjo Library (由利本荘市立本荘図書館), Mikuramachi 30 (2 blocks SW of Daiichi Hospital, next door to Honjo Kominkan and Honjo Bunkakaikan.), ☏ +81 184 22-4900. M-F 09:00-18:00, Sa Su 09:00-17:00, closed 3rd Sunday of the month, closed last day of the month (or preceding Friday). Largest library in Yurihonjo. Some English books are available, but most of these are in a storage room in back, so ask for help.
- 11 Kofuen Sumo Ring (光風園相撲場) (SW of Honjo Park on top of the hill.), ☏ +81 184 24-6287. This is an outdoor sumo practice ring, open for all to use. Contact the Honjo Board of Education (number above) for more information. ¥200 per hour.
- 12 Koryu Gakushu Center (交流学習センター), Kami-Ōno 16 (Across the street from Pachinko 21.), ☏ +81 184 24-4344. This public building has a small public library, as well as a gym and kitchen. Private groups often reserve the gym or kitchen and use them for various events. This building used to be called the Koiki Koryu Center (広域交流センター).
- 13 Pine Spa Onsen (ぱいんすぱ新山), Tajiri 30-12, Ishiwaki (just south of Yuri Technical High School), ☏ +81 184 28-1661. 09:00-21:00, closed the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month, as well as Dec 27-28. This onsen opened in 2005. adults ¥400, ¥300 after 18:00.
- 14 Tsurumai Kaikan (鶴舞会館), Kawarayachi 1 (200 m west of the swimming pool near City Hall), ☏ +81 184 24-2911. This community center has large and small rooms that can be reserved for various community events.
- 15 Tsurumai Onsen (鶴舞温泉), Nishikobitomachi 23-1 (south of the Lawson by Honjo Park), ☏ +81 184 23-7227. 08:00-21:30, closed 1st and 3rd Friday of every month, closed Dec 29-30. This is a popular onsen in central Honjo with a scenic location by a pond. ¥300-500.
- 16 Yurihonjo Softball Ground (ソフトボール場) (3 km south of the expressway's Honjo entrance ramp), ☏ +81 184 24-3966. This softball ground hosts youth and adult tournaments.
- 17 Hamanasu Family Bowling (はまなすファミリーボウル), Shinmichishita 1112-1, Numata (next to the Nishime Rest Area), ☏ +81 184 33-4710. A bowling alley with around 14 lanes, open until late.
- 18 Nishime Kominkan Seagull (西目公民館シーガル), Shinmichishita 2-533, Numata (from Nishime Station, go 1 block north and 1 block west), ☏ +81 184 33-2315. This community center has a medium-sized auditorium. It often hosts community events like dance recitals and art exhibits.
- 19 Nishime Yukkoland (にしめ湯っ娘ランド), Shinmichishita 1112-1, Numata (on Route 7, just behind the Nishime Rest Area, next to Max Valu), ☏ +81 184 33-4422. 24 hours. This bath house is part of a hotel. It's one of the only 24-hour bath houses in Yurihonjo. The building is not noteworthy, but on the other hand, it's clean, and the bath is large. There's a large bath, a small mineral bath, a sauna, and an outdoor sitting area. Massages are available. 3 hours in bath for ¥500.
- 20 Yurihonjo Sogo Gymnasium (由利本荘市総合体育館; Yurihonjō sōgō taiikukan), Nishigoe 62, Iwaya (in front of the rest area in Ouchi), ☏ +81 184 62-0501. This large public gymnasium hosts a variety of sports tournaments. There is also a weight room with treadmills. Most events are free to watch; the weight room costs a few hundred yen per visit.
- 21 Nagasaka Ski Area (長坂スキー場), 長坂大霜３８－３ (just off Route 105 near Ouchi Junior High School), ☏ +81 184 66-2526. A small ski area with one t-bar and one slope. Open for day and night skiing.
- 22 Cycling Terminal Yamayuri (サイクリングターミナルやまゆり), Minami Yurihara 360, Nishisawa (take Highway 32 to the Yuri Plateau; this building is just east of the junction with Highway 287), ☏ +81 184 53-3055. This building has a tourist information center, a small gift shop, a small restaurant, public restrooms and vending machines, and maps. There may be bicycles for rent, as well. The annual Chokai Marathon running race starts and ends here. Closed in winter.
- 23 Hanadate Milsey Dairy (花立牧場工房ミルジー Hanadate bokujō kōbō milsey), Hanadate 60, Jōnai (on Highway 32 at the Hanadate area of the Chokai Plateau), ☏ +81 184 55-2605. Apr-Nov 10:00-17:30. This dairy has tasty milk and ice cream. Offers hands-on tours.
- 24 Yashima Nishinkan/Kominkan (日新館・矢島公民館), Hazaka 64-1, Nanokamachi (between the train station and Lawson), ☏ +81 184 56-2203. 09:00-17:00 daily, closed the 3rd Sunday of each month, closed Dec 29-Jan 3. Community center with library and small auditorium. There is free internet access in the library.
- 25 Yashima Ski Area (鳥海高原矢島スキー場 Yashima suki-jō), Chōhoda 6, Arasawa (take Highway 108 to Yashima and follow road signs), ☏ +81 184 56-2182. 09:00-21:00. Ski area in Yashima. Ski and snowboard rentals available. Small gear shop. Two restaurants. Two ski lifts (4 person and 2 person). Adult day pass for ¥2600.
The best shopping in Yurihonjo is in Honjo itself. If Honjo doesn't have what you want, go to Akita. If you're shopping in one of the outlying areas, there are often interesting gifts at the rest area shops.
- 1 A-Coop (Ａコープ鳥海), Sakaidai 109-1, Kami-Jinego (at the traffic light on Highway 108 in Jinego), ☏ +81 184 59-2861. 09:00-19:00. Grocery store. Also sells local alcohol.
- 2 Conbini Sato (コンビニ佐藤), Ichinotsubo 9-1, Shimo-Jinego (on Highway 108 in Jinego), ☏ +81 184 59-2211. 06:00-21:00. Convenience store. Sells fresh fruit, local gifts, and post cards.
- 3 Hottoin Chokai (ほっといん直売所), Sakaidai 100, Kami-Jinego (at the Jinego Rest Area on Highway 108). 09:00-17:00. Sells fresh and canned vegetables and gifts for tourists, such as postcards and t-shirts.
- 4 Sairando (菜らんど), Kubo 146-1, Fushimi (at the Kawauchi Rest Area on Highway 108), ☏ +81 184 57-3797. Sells fresh and canned vegetables and gifts for tourists such as postcards and t-shirts. In-season vegetables may be cheaper than at local grocery stores.
- 5 Daily Yamazaki (Ｙショップ・鳥海店), Yamanoshita 166-1, Shimo-Kawauchi (on Highway 108 in Kawauchi), ☏ +81 184 57-2440. The only convenience store in Kawauchi.
- 6 Mingei Saito (民芸さいとう), Uraozakimachi 1-21 (two traffic lights west from Ugohonjo Station), ☏ +81 184 22-1182. M-Sa 08:30-18:30, Su 09:30-18:30, closed 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. Sells crafts, food and drink from the region. For example, the shop sells many lacquer dishes and containers made in Akita, as well as local brands of sake and kiritanpo.
- 7 Saison Fugetsu (セゾンふうげつ本荘店), Nakabonten 1-4 (between Bulldog and K's Denki on Highway 105, several blocks north of the Highway 108 interchange), ☏ +81 184-23-7288. 09:30-19:00, closed 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. Dessert store. Sells pieces and entire cakes, cream puffs, and other sweets.
- 8 Nishime Rest Area (道の駅にしめ), Shinmichishita 1112, Numata (on Highway 7 in northern Nishime, 10 minutes south of Honjo), ☏ +81 184 33-4260. This rest area has a restaurant, gift shop, vending machines, and a large parking area. The gift shop has a large selection of local and regional foods, t-shirts, and crafts.
- 9 Saison Fugetsu (風月堂), Shimo-Yamadera 61, Nanokamachi, ☏ +81 184 56-2354. Dessert store. Sells pieces and entire cakes, cream puffs, and other sweets.
- 10 Lawson Station (ローソン・由利本荘矢島店), Magaribuchi 181, Nanokamachi (SE side of Highway 108.), ☏ +81 184 27-5633. 24 hours. Convenience store with ATM. For late night shopping, people from Yashima and Chokai go here, because it's the only option.
Akita Prefecture is famous for kiritanpo, a sort of grilled rice cake. In October and November, the local hatahata fish is quite popular. Though unfortunately these foods are only served at a few restaurants around town, they can be purchased at many gift shops. Yurihonjo itself is known for several brands of sake (Japanese rice wine), such as Dewanofuji (出羽の富士) and Tenju SHUZO[dead link] (天寿酒造). Sake is served at bars and sold at many convenience and grocery stores.
- 1 Chihiro (ちひろ) (at the traffic light on Highway 108 in Jinego). By reservation. Many kinds of Japanese food available. Can host private parties.
- 2 Chokaiso (鳥海荘), Yunosawa 103-1, Sarukura (near Okojoland Ski Area in Sarukura, Hitane), ☏ +81 184 58-2065. This hotel and onsen has a restaurant with a standard Japanese menu and tasty katsudon. Large rooms may be reserved for enkais. ¥600-1200 for lunch.
- 3 Hottoin Restaurant (ほっといん鳥海レストラン), Sakaidai 100, Kami-Jinego (at the Jinego Rest Area on Highway 108). 11:00-17:00. Ramen, soba, and rice bowl dishes available. ¥500-1000.
- 4 Momoya (そば処ももや), Kubo 135-3, Fushimi (at the Kawauchi Rest Area on Highway 108), ☏ +81 184 57-3800. Specializes in soba. Ramen and udon also available. ¥500-1000.
- 5 Yokocho (横丁), Kawazoe 73-5, Fushimi (across from the Town Hall in Kawauchi), ☏ +81 184 57-2663. Ramen restaurant. ¥500-1200.
- 6 Angel Bakery (パンハウスエンゼル), Iwabuchishita 117-2 (200 m west of Daiichi Hospital), ☏ +81 184-23-3130. Tu-Su 08:00-18:30. This bakery makes and sells sells pastries, bread, coffee, and sandwiches. It's the only place in Honjo that sells Russian-style bread. The shop has some tables for customers who want to eat there.
- 7 Cake Kobo Furian Nakamura (ケーキ工房フリアンナカムラ), Yazuma 118, Kawaguchi (on Highway 105, go north across the river, turn right at the first light, and the shop is just before the train tracks on your left), ☏ +81 184 24-1001. A cake and dessert shop. Also serves coffee and has magazines and a sitting area. Desserts ¥200-400.
- 8 Chinese Restaurant Sai-kan (中華料理菜館), Shinwa Building, Kami-Shōbuzaki, Kawaguchi (on Highway 105 at the SE corner of the traffic light just north of the Koyoshi River), ☏ +81 184 22-7778. This Chinese restaurant has tasty seafood dishes. ¥800-1200 for main dishes.
- 9 Chiyogiku (千代菊), Mizubayashi 316-1 (just west of McDonald's), ☏ +81 184 23-4419. The special is toromi ramen, and the tanmen is also quite good. Seats 24.
- 10 Daimatsu (大松), Ōkuwamachi 285-2 (50 m east of the traffic light by Honjo High School), ☏ +81 184 24-3039. A nice fish and sushi restaurant. Rooms can be reserved for enkais. Specializes in fried dishes, such as fish curry. ¥1000-3000.
- 11 Gobando (五番堂昭和音酒場), Kyūjinchō 20-8 (50 m NE of the main Honjo Post Office), ☏ +81 184 44-8204. This izakaya serves standard fare. On Saturdays once or twice a month, it has open mic night for local bands.
- 12 Ichikoma (いちこま), Iwabuchishita 47 (east across the street from the Max Valu near the large pink hospital in Honjo), ☏ +81 184 22-7586. Th-Tu. This small udon shop has three tables and a counter. It serves many kinds of udon, and also oden. The shop is owned by a young couple, and their udon is quite good.
- 13 Ichiyoshi (一よし 料亭), Sakanamachi 15 (from the north door of Hotel Iris, go west 200 meters, and it's through a large gate on your left), ☏ +81 184 22-0144. A traditional Japanese restaurant where you sit and eat on tatami mats. Specializes in fish. Reservations required.
- 14 Kind Grill (カインドグリル), Iwabuchishita 36 (a half block south of the large pink hospital and a half block north of Max Valu), ☏ +81 184 23-2980. A very nice steak restaurant. There are only 3 tables, so reservations are required. Main dishes ¥1000-3000.
- 15 Kinkaku (中国料理キンカク), Mizubayashi 430-14 (from the Docomo Store on Highway 107, go a block SW), ☏ +81 184 24-0705. Open for lunch. A Chinese-style restaurant serving gyoza, rice dishes, and soup. ¥300-1000 for lunch.
- 16 Kichijo Shuka (吉祥酒家), Iwabuchishita 51 (between Max Valu and Daiichi Hospital on the west side of the street), ☏ +81 184 44-8644. This small Chinese restaurant has tasty lunch sets and large portions. ¥600.
- 17 Koyo (紅葉), Hanabatamachi 1-103, ☏ +81 184 22-5049. A small ramen restaurant.
- 18 Masadon (政どん), Taniyamakoji 1-7, ☏ +81 184-22-5387. This izakaya's special is half of a small chicken, deep fried. The chicken sells out, so it's best to call in advance and reserve a portion. Because the chicken is greasy and tasty, this is a good location for drinking after dinner.
- 19 Oyaji Ramen (ラーメンおやじ本荘店), Yahata Building, Kawaguchi Hachimanmae 246-1 (near Yuri High School, across from Max Valu), ☏ +81 184 23-5657. Serves several kinds of ramen and tasty gyoza. Buy food tickets at the vending machine before sitting down. ¥500-1200.
- 20 Ozono Ryokan (小園旅館), Nakamachi 16 (one block north of the Honjo Post Office and one block south of the police station, on the NE corner), ☏ +81 184 22-3333. This ryokan is often reserved for large enkais and used for formal dinners. The food is delicious. Reservations required.
- 21 Pizza 10-4 (ピザ・テン・フォー本荘店), Aizu Building, Iwabuchishita 39-4 (a block south of the large pink hospital, across the street from Max Valu), ☏ +81 184 23-5567. A delivery or carry out pizza place. Features a selection of seafood pizzas, along with a few meat and vegetarian options.
- 22 Ramen Ichiban Hoshi (ラーメンいちばん星), Tsurunuma 89-2 (on Highway 107 2 blocks east of McDonald's), ☏ +81 184-24-1239. The house specialties are miso ramen and tonkotsu ramen.
- 23 Ramen Menmaru (ラーメンめん丸本荘店), Mizubayashi 424-5 (on Highway 107 across from Docomo), ☏ +81 184 23-4413. This ramen shop is centrally located and open fairly late. Its specials are assorted spicy ramen dishes. Also, the gyoza is quite good. ¥500-1000.
- 24 Rin (鉄板ダイニング凛 Teppan dainingu rin), Kobitomachi 8-2 (several blocks SW of the Highway 107 B-Gal), ☏ +81 184 24-0322. 11:00-22:00. This restaurant has a large grill on which they cook their food. The menu is large, with an emphasis on okonomiyaki and steak.
- 25 [dead link] Tsurusenkameman (鶴千亀万), Iwabuchishita 137 (between the Bunkakaikan and Max Valu), ☏ +81 184 22-7794. 17:00-00:00. A modern izakaya. ¥3000-4000.
- 26 Warabeuta (わらべ唄 お好み焼), Hanabatamachi 2-68-1 (from Honjo Station, go west; it's on the NE corner at the traffic light), ☏ +81 184 24-4868. 11:30-14:00, 17:00-22:00, closed on Mondays. An okonomiyaki restaurant. If you don't know how to cook okonomiyaki, the staff can help you learn.
- 27 Yu (ゆう), #3 Ricchi Building, Iwabuchishita 117-6 (100m west of Daiichi Hospital, just east of Angel Bakery.), ☏ +81 184-23-2868. This Japanese izakaya serves traditional Akita fare, among other things. In particular, it often serves doburoku, a local sake variant. Reservations recommended.
- 28 Zanmai (三昧), Iwabuchishita 37 (In Honjo, half a block south of Daiichi Hospital, on the west side of the street.), ☏ +81 184 28-4311. 17:00-00:00, closed around New Years Eve and New Years Day. This is a large izakaya that serves standard izakaya fare, with a slight emphasis on sushi. ¥2000-3000, a la carte prices vary.
- 29 Restaurant Quebec (レストランケベック), Shintsurugata 192-43, Iwakiuchimichigawa (at the north end of the Iwaki Rest Area), ☏ +81 184 62-6288. Closed Tuesday. This Quebec-themed restaurant has various foreign food. Its pizza is fairly tasty, compared with normal Japanese pizza.
- 30 Ibuki (うどん工房いぶき), Hamayama 6-1, Deto (from Nishime Junior High School on Route 7, go a block north and two blocks west), ☏ +81 184 33-3537. 11:00-14:00, closed Monday. This small shop has some of the best udon in Nishime. It also has blueberry and sesame soft-serve ice cream. ¥600-900.
- 31 Keijiro (鶏次楼), Shinmichishita 2-15, Numata (from the Nishime Post Office, go 2 and a half blocks SW, staying left at the Y junction; the restaurant is on the left; there is a gravel parking lot in front of the restaurant), ☏ +81 184 33-3944. F-W 11:00-14:00, 17:00-21:00. This restaurant and izakaya serves various Japanese food, such as ramen, soba, and katsudon. It also serves kiritanpo, a famous Akita dish. Main dishes for ¥500-900.
- 32 Kohraku (幸楽), Shinmichishita 2-637, Numata (on the west side of Route 7, about 2 blocks south of Nishime High School), ☏ +81 184 33-2333, fax: +81 184 33-4427. 11:00-20:00. This Chinese restaurant has eat in and take out options.
Yashima is known for toranokonomanju, a striped red bean pastry, which is sold at dessert shops and grocery stores.
- 33 Daikokuya (大黒屋), Yamadera 15-7, Nanokamachi (across from the shrine near Sasaya Electronics), ☏ +81 184 56-2604. This ramen shop is run by a former pupil of Yebisuya Ramen.
- 34 Donpei (どん平), Magaribuchi 1-12, Nanokamachi (between Yashima Station and Lawson), ☏ +81 184 56-2644. Soba restaurant. ¥600-1200.
- 35 Izakaya Gatten (居酒屋我っ店), Okawabara 109-2, Motomachi (next to the Yashima Fire Station), ☏ +81 184 56-2888. This is a fairly large izakaya. It serves pizza, fried food, and other standard fare.
- 36 Koya (こうや), Magi 41, Motomachi (across from Yashima Max Valu), ☏ +81 184 55-4431. Serves ramen, omelet-rice, and other Japanese food. ¥600-1,200.
- 37 Kuro (九龍 中華料理), Aibadate 149-5, Motomachi (200 m south from Max Valu), ☏ +81 184 55-2321. Serves ramen and other Japanese dishes.
- 38 Sakae Shokudo (栄食堂), Magi 210-1, Motomachi (from Max Valu, exit the parking lot and turn left on the side street; about 300 m down the road on the left), ☏ +81 184 56-2609. This small restaurant serving standard Japanese fare has been around for decades, and the menu has grown in length over time. Regular customers recommend the tonkatsu, friend shrimp, and chili shrimp. A regular size dish here is the equivalent of a large dish at nearby restaurants. ¥500-900.
- 39 Takabe Shokudo (多賀部食堂), Hazaka 21-6, Nanokamachi (between Yashima Station and the nearby JA Bank), ☏ +81 184 55-2563. This eatery's special is the yakiniku bento. ¥500-1000.
- 40 Uogashi (魚河岸寿し), Kumanodō 31-13, Nanokamachi (from Saison Fugetsu, cross the bridge over the stream and turn left onto a narrow street; go straight for 100 m and it's on the left), ☏ +81 184 56-2008. 18:00-22:00. Sushi restaurant.
- 41 Yebisuya Ramen (ゑびすやラーメン), Tsukidate 146-1, Jōnai (On Highway 108 near Lawson.), ☏ +81 184 55-3555. Yebisu-style ramen. The store specialty is ginger (shoga) ramen. ¥500-1000.
In Honjo, there are many small snack bars. The outlying communities have fewer bars. There are no real dance clubs in Yurihonjo — try Akita for dancing.
- Oku (恩来) (In Hitane, a 200m walk from Chokaiso. It is also walking distance from Hotel Masaka.). This is a small snack bar with karaoke. It is the only snack bar in Hitane.
- 1 The Castaways Casual Bar (キャスタウェイズ), Dai 3 Ricchi Building 1F, Iwabuchishita 117-6 (by the river, just west of the large pink hospital), ☏ +81 184 23-4783. Tu-Su 19:30-02:30. A small bar with karaoke. Seats 5-6 groups, or around 30 people. There's no seating charge, and reservations can be made for large groups. ¥300-500 per drink.
- 2 Cha Cha Cha (ちゃちゃちゃ炉端), Tamachi 74 (between the Honjo Post Office and the Honjo Police Station, beyind Ozono Ryokan), ☏ +81 184 22-3326.
- 3 Silk (シルク), Hanabatamachi 4-3 (from Ugohonjo Station, go one light west and one light south; or, from B-Gal, go one light north; Silk is on the west side of the road), ☏ +81 184 24-3487. This is a fairly large bar with darts, a pool table, a few gaming machines, and a sitting area.
- 4 Socket (ソケット), 2nd Floor, #3 Ricchi Building, Iwabuchishita 117-6 (just west of Daiichi Hospital, next to Castaway's; on the 2nd floor), ☏ +81 184-22-0088. This is a rather large bar with darts and karaoke. Drinks are fairly cheap.
- 5 Partner Snack (パートナー スナック), Nanokamachi 1-11 (Between Yashima Station and Fugetsu, on the north side of the street.), ☏ +81 184 55-3651.
Business hotels are best found in Honjo. Ryokans can be found throughout Yurihonjo, though for a ryokan you'll want to have reservations or arrive early in the day. In a pinch, a car traveler could sleep in the car at any of the rest areas — this is quite common in northern Japan. If you're thinking of sleeping in your car after a night of drinking, please make sure you're completely alcohol-free in the morning, because the police may see your car in the evening and watch for it in the morning. Additionally, there are a few love hotels that could be used, but regular hotels are comparable in price, so it's not a great option.
- 1 Chokai Ohira Campground (鳥海大平キャンプ場) (from the Jinego Rest Area, take Highway 70 SE; at a T-junction, Highway 70 turns N, but don't follow it -- keep going straight; after about 5 km, the pavement turns to gravel, and the campground is about 3 km farther). This isolated campground itself is not very scenic, but it is near the trail head for Hinoto Dake (丁岳), a good day hike. It has one toilet building, a small area for dish washing, a covered eating area, and a light. There is no resident caretaker. The road and campground are closed in winter. Free.
- 2 Chokaiso (鳥海荘), Yunosawa 103-1, Sarukura (near Okojoland Ski Area in Sarukura, Hitane), ☏ +81 184 58-2065, fax: +81 184 58-2007. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:00. Hotel and onsen. Single room with two meals for ¥8200.
- 3 [dead link] Hotel Foresta Chokai (フォレスタ鳥海), Okuyamamae 8-45, Sarukura (follow signs from Yashima or Kawauchi), ☏ +81 184 58-2888. Hotel and onsen on the base of Mt. Chokai. There is a restaurant, a cafe, and a gift shop. It's about 10 minutes by car to Yashima Ski Area. ¥10,000/night.
- 4 Hotel Masaka (ホテルまさか), Yunosawa 52, Sarukura (near Okojoland Ski Area in Sarukura, Hitane), ☏ +81 184 58-2188. Hotel Masaka hosts overnight guests and large enkais. Yunosawa Onsen is part of this hotel. 1 night and 2 meals for ¥8400.
- 5 Kikuchi Ryokan (菊地旅館), Shimono 108, Kami-Jinego (50 m NE of the Jinego Post Office, on the west side of the street), ☏ +81 184 59-2006.
- 6 Mt. Chokai Omonoimi Jinja (鳥海山大物忌神社) (at the top of Mt. Chokai; it is only accessibly by a several-hour hike). This summit hut is popular with hikers who stay the night and get up to see the sun rise from the top of the mountain. Overnight fare includes a bland dinner and breakfast, so many hikers bring a little extra food. Reservations highly recommended. The hut is open from early summer to early October — in that season, the website has relevant pricing reservation information.
- 7 Anraku Onsen (安楽温泉), Ōdzutsumishita 4 (follow signs to Honjo High School; at the traffic light in front of the high school, go SE for several hundred meters; it's on the right), ☏ +81 184 22-0637. Hotel and onsen. ¥8000-10,000 for 2 meals + 1 night.
- 8 Honjo Grand Hotel (本荘グランドホテル), Iwabuchishita 254 (just south of Daiichi Hospital and just north of the library), ☏ +81 184 23-4511. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:00. Upscale hotel in central Honjo. Single room for ¥6200.
- 9 Honjo Marina Auto Campground (本荘マリーナオートキャンプ場), Tajiri 32-8, Ishiwaki (on Highway 7 north of the big bridge in Honjo, go west at the traffic light between Honda Cars and Lawson; the campground is on the right after several kilometers), ☏ +81 184 24-0400. 4-person site for ¥3000.
- 10 Honjo Station Hotel (本荘ステーションホテル), Hanabatamachi 1-29 (just SW of Ugohonjo Station; when you exit Ugohonjo Station, look diagonally to the left), ☏ +81 184 27-2530. This hotel is convenient for travelers without a car. Single for ¥5000.
- 11 Hotel Iris (ホテルアイリス), Sakanamachi 5 (from Honjo Post Office, go one block north and one block west; the hotel is a tall building that's easy to see), ☏ +81 184 24-5115. Check-in: 14:00. Upscale hotel in central Honjo. There is a restaurant. Single room for ¥7,800.
- 12 Route Inn Hotel (ホテル ルートイン 由利本荘), Idojiri 50 (at the junction of Highway 7 and Highway 107 in Honjo), ☏ +81 184 28-0001. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. This hotel has a convenient location for people traveling by car. Single for ¥6500.
- 13 Sanboen Campground (三望苑キャンプ場), Toriya 81, Ōya (from Shinzan Elementary School in northern Honjo, take a small road slightly east to Shinzan Park, and then go several kilometers north; the campground is on the east side of the road), ☏ +81 184 23-2617. This campground has tent spaces and a large cabin (with electricity, running water, and kitchen) for rent. There is also a playground and zip line.
- 14 Nishime Yukkoland (にしめ湯っ娘ランド), Shinmichishita 1112-1, Numata (on Route 7, just behind the Nishime Rest Area, next to Max Valu), ☏ +81 184 33-4422. 24 hours. This 24-hour hotel and onsen is designed for people on the move. It's clean, inexpensive, and located on the highway. 1 night 2 meals for ¥6000, without meals for ¥4500.
- 15 Ōgoya Family Land (大小屋ファミリーランド), Ishimori 4-13, Iwanomezawa (in Ōuchi), ☏ +81 184 67-2313. Check-in: 17:00, check-out: 09:30. This facility has a lodge, some sporting equipment, and a campground. Camping is free; cheaper lodges for ¥3000 (in total); more expensive lodges for ¥7000 (in total).
- 16 Chokai Plateau Hanadate Campground (鳥海高原花立牧場), Hanadate 63, Jōnai (from Yashima, take Highway 32 towards the ski area; just before the ski area, turn right and stay on Highway 32; at the intersection with Highway 58, turn right and stay on Highway 32 again; the campground is on the right after about 2 km), ☏ +81 184 55-2929. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. This campground has both tent sites, with tarps or tents for rent if desired, and cabins. The scenic area has a nice view of Mt. Chokai. ¥11,000-15,000 for a 5-person cabin, camping for ¥300 per person.
- 17 Nishiki Ryokan (錦旅館), Tanakamachi 52 (just east of the Yashima Post Office, several kilometers west of the Aramachi traffic light on Highway 108), ☏ +81 184 56-2452. This ryokan can be used for lodging or for enkais. Reservations may be necessary.
- 18 Use Plateau Hotel (ユースプラトー), Hanadate 96, Jōnai (near Milsey Dairy on the Chokai Plateau), ☏ +81 184 55-2929. This hotel and neighboring youth hostel are located on the foothills of Mt. Chokai. A sports complex and a horseback riding area are located nearby. The youth hostel has rooms that sleep 5 people. Single ¥3500, shared room ¥2900, dinner ¥1600, breakfast ¥800, bath for nonguests ¥300, youth hostel bed ¥2700.
- 19 Yuri Plateau Auto Campground (由利高原オートキャンプ場), Minami Yurihara 437, Nishisawa (on Highway 32, just east of the Cycling Terminal and Highway 287 junction), ☏ +81 184 53-2055. This campground has camp sites and cabins. It also has a nice view of Mt. Chokai.
Finding free wireless internet can be a challenge. Aquapal, Yashima Station, and the Yashima Nishinkan have public use computers with free internet access.
When making local telephone calls, only the last six digits are necessary. For example, "+81 184 53-2055" becomes "53-2055".
- Check out Akita, an hour by train to the north.
- Within the prefecture, Lake Tazawa and the Oga Peninsula are both two hours' drive from Honjo.
|Routes through Yurihonjo|
|Akita ←||N S||→ Tsuruoka → Niigata|
|Akita ←||N S||→ Kisakata|
|Akita ←||N S||→ Sakata → Niigata|
|END ←||W E||→ Yokote → Hanamaki|
|END ←||N W||→ Ugo → Yuzawa|