Japanese Garden and Kura Storage in Hirakawa-City


 My colleagues and I went to Hirakawa-City for “Old Houses, Japanese Gardens and Kura Storages Tour” which is an annual tour, and is held only 2 days in the end of May.  

If you try to go to Hirakawa-City from Aomori-City by train or bus, it is easier to transfer at Hirosaki-City.  Since I don’t like a slow train, we paid extra 510yen to get on the “Resort Shirakami“, which is a popular train to travel around Akita – Goshogawara – Aomori area.  

Resort Shirakami, a train with a bigger window



Box Seat

Onoe district in Hirakawa-City is known with the Japanese gardens well taken care of, and well preserved Kura storages.  There are about 300 kura storages owned by farmers, which is the largest number among the cities of Japan. Major construction boom of Kura storages occured during 1940-1950, when tenant farmers allowed to be independent, building Kura for status was what everyone wished for.   The number of Kura storages can tell how people around this area worked hard and became prosperous.   

Japanese Garden in Onoe

Kura Storage - mainly used to store rice and apples

The more layers the window has, the higher class the storage is.

  In the tour you can visit about 10 private Japanese gardens of old families which are not usually open to the public. It was interesting to learn about the materials preferred for the gardens, and the meaning of patterns of Kura storage.  

Volcano rocks are popular for the garden because they get easily covered with moss, and with the beautiful shapes

The water-splashing-pattern is a charm to prevent a fire

On the way visiting around Japanese garden and Kura storage area, I found a cool antique shop, a cafe with Japanese garden view and beautiful flowers.  There were many things I wanted to stop by and take pictures, and my colleagues and I couldn’t complete visiting all permitted gardens within the allowed time!!   

A cool antique shop


Cafe with a Garden View

The garden which we happened to visit as the last one actually blew me away.  It was a garden of Seito family, and I’ve never seen the spacious, luxury private garden like this before.  



 The pathway to the main area was long, which already surprised me before seeing all area.  



Pathway of the incredibly spacious and gorgeous private garden

I heard it is said that construction of this garden cost 200,000,000yen(!!!!), and the maintenance cost is 7,000,000yen/year.   Wow… I don’t think I am earning enogh money even for maintainance of this garden.    



 This garden has waterfalls, stream, various kinds of trees, flowers and garden rocks regardless of expense….  


 Above pictures are just a part of the Seito family’s garden.   I really enjoyed visiting those beautiful private gardens.  

Oh and as one more information, there is a public Japanese garden called “Seibi-en” in the same district, which became the model for the latest Giburi movie “Kari-gurashi no Arrietty” (Original story is “The Borrowers” by  Mary Norton) coming this summer. If you are a big fan of Giburi movie, you definitely have to visit Hirakawa-City!  

5 Responses to “Japanese Garden and Kura Storage in Hirakawa-City”

  1. I did not know there is such a beautiful place near.
    I want to come visit once.

  2. Thank you for your visit Nishita-san.
    Yes there are still many hidden gems we can find in Aomori-ken.

  3. Thank you for this excellent report! The gardens are just spectacular. And I was fascinated to learn more about the kura.

    Is it possible for you to give more detail about traveling to Hirakawa from Aomori city, changing trains in Hirosaki? How long will it take? What would the total cost be? Is the transfer in Hirosaki difficult at all? Do the resort shirakami trains run in the fall? I am thinking of going on Sports Day, Oct 11. Will transportation run as usual?

    Thank you!

  4. Hello & I’m terribly sorry for not getting back to you sooner!

    Trains are operated on Oct 11 as regular schedule.

    Tsugaru-Onoe station of Konan Railway bound for Kuroishi is the cloest station to Kura and Japanese garden area.

    Time required from Aomori to Hirakawa
    Aomori – Hirosaki by JR Resort Shirakami = 40 min
    Hirosaki – Tsugaru-Onoe by Konan Railway bound for Kuroishi = 20 min*(operates every 30 min)

    From Tsugaru Onoe station, you have to use taxi to get to “Kanaya area” where Kura I uploaded the images are located. It will take about 10 min from the station and the fee is about 1,200 yen.

    If you want the Kura tour guide(In Japanese Only), it is 1 hour tour and costs 1,000 yen per person.(reservation required)

    Please let me know if you have any more question.

  5. Thank you, Yuko-san, for all the excellent information!



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