Sai

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Hotokegaura

Sai Village 佐井村 is in Shimokita, Aomori, Japan.

Understand[edit]

Hotokegaura

Sai Village is on the northwest coast of Shimokita Peninsula in Aomori Prefecture. It borders the Tsugaru Strait, and is mostly a mountainous region. The areas within Sai include Ushitaki, Fukuura, Chogo and Isoya. It is a quaint, quiet village with breathtaking scenery of both mountains and sea.

Talk[edit]

English is not spoken. You will need some Japanese to get around, or at least a dictionary and some gestures. However, the Tourist Information Center in Mutsu can understand english if spoken slowly and simply. They can be helpful for booking things for you.

Shimokita Peninsula speaks Shimokita dialect which is a mixture of Tsugaru dialect, Nambu dialect, and some local words.

Get in[edit]

Sai is accessible by car, bus, or ferry.

From Mutsu[edit]

From the Shimokita JR station in Mutsu, take the Shimokita bus heading to Sai. The bus ride takes about 2 hours and costs about 3000 yen.

Alternatively, you can rent a car. If you plan on exploring the gorgeous scenery, rent a car. Shimokita is not well connected by public transportation and the distances between towns are far. To get to Sai by car, follow the 279 north all the way to Oma where it intersects with the 338. Turn left (south) and follow the 338 into and through Sai. The drive is about an hour and 15 minutes.

From Hakodate[edit]

Take the Donan Ferry [1]. The Donan Ferry makes two runs a day between Hakodate and Oma. The ride is about an hour and 45 minutes. A return trip ticket costs about 4000 yen. From Oma to Sai is a 2000 to 3000 cab ride or about a 500 yen bus ride.

From Aomori City[edit]

Take the Sii Line ferry [2]. The Sii Line ferry makes two runs a day between Aomori and Sai stopping at Fukuura, Ushitaki and Wakinosawa along the way. The ride is about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

From Tsugaru[edit]

Take the Mutsuwan ferry [3]. It makes three runs between Kanita and Wakinosawa a day. From Wakinosawa, you can catch the Shimokita bus or take the Sii Line ferry [4] directly to Sai.

Get around[edit]

Hotokegaura

Walking is fine for exploring the town, but to see the breathtaking scenery, renting a car or taking a ferry ride are highly recommended. The ferry ride is chartered at Arusasu, the community center. The ferry can take you to Hotokegaura and around the sea shore. A car will allow you to view the mountainous beauty that Sai has to offer. Narrow dirt mountain roads beckon the adventurous 4X4 riding traveller.

See[edit][add listing]

Hotokegaura
  • Hotokegaura is in Ushitaki and is the main attraction to Sai. It is a collection of odd rock formations that have sparked people's imaginations. People claim to see shapes and faces in the rocks that resemble Buddhas. The azure sea reflects off their surface creating a surrealistic atmosphere. One can easily spend an afternoon exploring them and watching the magnificent Japanese sunset. Hotokegaura can be accessed by car or chartered ferry.
  • Gankake is a large boulder overlooking the sea that is known for it's view from the top. It is also a popular swimming spot and has changing room facilities available. It can be found on the way to Hotokegaura.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Nuidoishiyama is a large mountain in Fukuura. Hiking to the top is a popular activity as the whole village and other mountains can be seen. Be sure to bring the bear bells at the bottom of the mountain to ward off any wildlife.

Events[edit]

Fukuura Kabuki poster

In the middle of September, Sai puts on a festival. Floats are pulled by the locals and the priests from the shrine bless the houses of the village. The Kagura, an ancient theatrical dance with masks, is also performed.

In November, Sai puts on a culture festival. Different variations of festival songs and Kagura are performed at the community center.

In February, Fukuura village puts on a kabuki show. It features northern styles of kabuki and is performed one day a year.

In June, Sai has a sea urchin roe festival. They sell fresh sea urchin roe on rice and people can eat it while shopping.

Eat[edit][add listing]

As Sai is on the Tsugaru Strait, fishing is the major economic staple. Some of the locally caught seafood include sea urchin roe, sea pineapple, scallops, abalone and squid. Sai also has a shiitake farm that sells to local markets.

There are only a few restaurants in Sai. Most are located in Arusasu, the community center. Poppiez, is a lunch restaurant and can be found in Arusasu. They have pizza and pasta Japanese style. Across from that is a restaurant owned by the same person, but offers Japanese fast food like ramen, tonkatsu, and ebi chilli.

There is a ramen and gyoza place open in the evening that can accomodate a couple of people at a time. It's located near the bars beside the bridge.

There are several other restaurants that require reservation and are usually for large groups of people. Umaimonya is a restaurant across the street from Arusasu that can provide meals if they have been informed in advance. Isokawa, Miyano, Manjaya and Hotokegaura Drive-in in Fukuura are other Japanese restaurants available for large groups.

If you are staying at a cabin, the only grocery stores are in Oma, so be sure to stock up before coming to Sai.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Other than restaurants, there are only two bars in Sai. Inaka (Seating capacity of up to 5 people at a time) and Sta. Both places have karaoke.

They are both located across the street from Arusasu. Inaka is in the 5 floor building and Sta is across from it.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

The Gankake cabins is the main place to stay. There are other bed and breakfast type places in Sai and Fukuura.

Contact[edit]

Mutsu's tourist office (Masakari Plaza, tel. 0175-22-0909), near the Mutsu bus terminal, is helpful and can provide basic information in English, not just for Mutsu but the entire peninsula. They will also book accommodation for you.

Get out[edit]

Oma town is a 15 minute (2000-3000 yen) cab ride away. Oma is famous for it's Maguro Matsuri. In October, they catch a large tuna fish and butcher it for auction. The best slices of sashimi have been known to sell for 50,000 yen. Omazaki is the northernmost tip of Honshu and on a clear day, Hokkaido is visible from it. Oma is also the gateway between Hakodate and Shimokita. The ferry [5] takes about an hour and 40 minutes. It is convenient to come to Shimokita through Hakodate airport.

Ohata town is a 30 minute drive away or an hour bus ride. Ohata is notable for it's outdoor public hot springs, Yagen. In the spring, sakura trees line the road through Ohata. Around 5:00 you can catch a squid race in town. Squids are raced and bet on like horses.

Higashidori is a farming town about an hour's drive away. Notable for Shiriyazaki, the cape on the west side of Shimokita Peninsula. Wild horses roam free through the fields and you can walk pretty close to them without frightening them.

Mutsu is the nearest city and is an hour and a half drive from Sai.




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