Location of Ashikita in Kumamoto Prefecture
|• Mayor||Mr. Kazunari Takezaki|
|• Total||233.48 km2 (90.15 sq mi)|
(1 June 2019)
|• Density||70/km2 (180/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+9 (JST)|
|City hall address||熊本県葦北郡芦北町大字芦北2015|
Ashikita is situated on the south west coast of the island of Kyushu in Southern Japan, and it is known for its attractive coastlines, beaches and its production of citrus fruit.
Ashikita is famous for its fresh local produce, in particular dekopon oranges (also known as shiranui), and amanatsu oranges. It also has iconic sailboats called utasebune (打たせ船) which fish for famous cutlassfish (太刀魚 tachiuo) and red-footed shrimp (足赤海老 ashiaka ebi). Other local delicacies include Ashikita beef, Otachimisaki salt, Ozeki rice and Ozeki shochu (sake).
Ashikita Town is located approximately 60km southwest of Kumamoto City.
Historically, Ashikita was located in the Higo Domain (肥後国, Higo-kuni) of Kyushu. Modern Ashikita Town was created by merging the old towns of Tanoura and Ashikita, and the villages of Ono and Yoshio.
The town is bordered to the north by Yatsushiro City (八代市 Yatsushiro-shi). To the south lie Tsunagi Town (津奈木町 Tsunagi-machi) and Minamata City (水俣市 Minamata-shi) and to the east runs the Kuma river (球磨川 Kuma-gawa), separating Ashikita from Kuma Village (球磨村 Kuma-mura) and Hitoyoshi City (人吉市 Hitoyoshi-shi).
The municipality governs the 7th largest area within the prefecture.
Ashikita, like all regions of Kumamoto, experiences large differences in temperature, from an average high in August of 33 degrees celsius (the 3rd highest average in Japan), to an average low in January of 0 degrees. In addition, Kumamoto Prefecture as a whole sees the most rainfall on the island of Kyushu, particularly during the rainy season between June and July. Like most of Japan, Ashikita experiences all four seasons, including cherry blossoms from late March to April, and Autumn colors from November or December depending on the warmth of the weather.
|Month||Average Temperature (Celsius)||Average Rainfall|
|High||Low||Days of Rain||Rainfall (ml)|
(Data from NOAA: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/)
Areas within AshikitaEdit
Ashikita is divided into 44 areas. Communities are often spread along rivers, following the Kuma River between Yatsushiro City and Hitoyoshi City, and following the many streams that originate in Ashikita's mountains and flow out into the Yatsushiro Sea, along the town's extensive coastline. These areas include:
- Northern Tanoura region along the coast
- Uminoura (海浦) serviced by Uminoura Station on the Hisatsu Orange Railway
- Kami-Tanoura (上田浦) and Hatato (波多島) serviced by Kami-Tanoura Station on the Hisatsu Orange Railway.
- Kodanoura (小田浦) serviced by Higo-Tanoura Station on the Hisatsu Orange Railway.
- Imuta (井牟田)
- Central Tanoura region
- Tanouramachi (田浦町) and Tanoura (田浦) which can be accessed by the Tanoura IC, or by the Hisatsu Orange Railway from Otachimisaki Koen Station. Otachimisaki Park is located on the cape, with beaches, Otachimisaki Onsen, Ashikita Symbol Tower and recreational facilities. Tanoura Rest Area offers a food shop and restaurant for travelers. Tanoura Elementary School and Tanoura Junior High School can be found there.
- Mountainous region east of Tanoura
- Oiwa (大岩) and Kuroiwa (黒岩)
- Tachikawa (立川), Yokoigi (横居木) and Uwabara (上原)
- Region along the Kuma River
- Yoshio (吉尾) and Ebirase (箙瀬) serviced by Yoshio Station along the JR Hisatsu Line; Yoshio Elementary School and Yoshio Onsen are located there.
- Kaiji (海路) serviced by Kaiji Station on the JR Hisatsu Line; the location of Kaiji Elementary School.
- Ono (大野) and Tsuge (告) - Ono Onsen Center offers an onsen, food shop and restaurant along the road to Hitoyoshi City. Ono Elementary School is located there.
- Northern Ashikita region
- Michigawachi (道川内), Fushiki (伏木氏), Matsubae (松生), Miyanoura (宮浦), Onita (大尼田) and Shiroishi (白石) with Shiroishi Station along the JR Hisatsu Line
- Otojiya (乙千屋) where Ashikita High School is located.
- Central Ashikita region
- Hanaoka (花岡)
- Sashiki (佐敷) is accessible by the Ashikita IC, and has the Ashikita Farmers' Market Dekopon Rest Area, where travelers can buy fresh produce and local delicacies. Sashiki Station lies along the Hisatsu Orange Railway, and on nearby Shiroyama Hill sit the Shiroyama Skydome and the Sashiki Castle Ruins Historical Park. Sashiki Elementary School and Sashiki Junior High School are also located here.
- Ashikita (芦北) is the location of the Ashikita Town Hall and the Bayside Ashikita area, where a park and a wooden boulevard can be found.
- Southern Ashikita region
- Yunoura (湯浦) is a residential area along the Yunoura river, serviced by Yunoura Station along the Hisatsu Orange Railway. It has both Yunoura Elementary School and Yunoura Junior High School. Yunoura Onsen and Healthy Park pool and onsen can also be found there.
- Meshima (女島) has the Meshima Yumemoyai Center.
- Eastern Ashikita mountainous region
- Amatsuki (天月), Shiraki (白木), Ichinose (市野瀬), Kuwabara (桑原), Shioshitashi (塩浸) and Yahata (八幡).
- Region east of Yunoura
- Tagawa (田川), Miyazaki (宮﨑) and Toyooka (豊岡)
- Okawachi (大川内) where Uchino Elementary School is located.
- Region south of Ono
- Yoneda (米田), Takaoka (高岡), Furuishi (古石), Kunimi (国見) and Maruyama (丸山).
- Mayor: Kazunari Takezaki (instated 23rd January 2005, 3rd term as mayor)
- Town Council Members: 16 in total (elected until 2014)
Sashiki Area, located in the heart of Ashikita Town, was part of the Kuma Road that connected Kuma, South Kumamoto with Edo (modern-day Tokyo) during the Edo period, and was lined with inns and rest houses, though in present day Ashikita this is no longer the case.
- 1 April 1889: The following villages were established in accordance with the Town and Villages Act: Ashikita-gun Sashiki Village, Ono Village, Yoshio Village, Yunoura Village, Tanoura Village
- 18 November 1903: Sashiki Village becomes Sashiki Town
- 1 October 1951: Yunoura Village becomes Yunoura Town
- 1 January 1955: Sashiki Town, Ono Village and Yoshio Village are merged to create Ashikita Town
- 1 April 1958: Tanoura Village becomes Tanoura Town
- 1 November 1970: Ashikita Town and Yunoura Town are merged to form Ashikita Town
- 1 January 2005: Ashikita Town and Tanoura Town are merged in accordance with the New Town Act to form Ashikita Town
- Fishing is plentiful, particularly specialist fishing on sail boats called utasebune (打瀬船)
- Agriculture is focussed particularly on plentiful citrus fruits
- The farming of amanatsu (甘夏) citrus fruit began in old Tanoura Town in 1949. It has become the largest producer of amanatsu fruit in Japan
- Currently, the production of citrus fruit known as shiranui (不知火) or dekopon (デコポン) is increasing
- Dekopon fruit
- Amanatsu fruit
- Ozeki rice
- Ozeki beef
- Ashikita shochu (sake)
- Tachiuo fish (cutlass fish)
- Ashiakaebi shrimp (red-footed shrimp)
- Minami-Kyushu Expressway: Tanoura IC, Ashikita IC leading to Kumamoto City and Fukuoka City to the north, and to Minamata City in the south.
- National 3rd road
- National 219th road
Major prefectural roads:
- Kumamoto 27th Ashikita-Kuma Line
- Kumamoto 56th Minamata Line
Highway rest areas (道の駅 michi-no-eki)
- Tanoura Michi-no-eki
- Ashikita Dekopon Michi-no-eki
- Ono Onsen Center [along the Ashikita-Kuma Line]
Kyushu Railway Company
- Hisatsu Line: Kaiji Station, Yoshio Station, Shiraishi Station
- The Kyushu Shinkansen bullet train runs between Shin-Yatsushiro Station (新八代駅 shin-yatsushiro eki) and Shin-Minamata Station (新水俣駅 shin-minamata eki), passing through tunnels across Ashikita.
Hisatsu Orange Railway
- Hisatsu Orange Railway Line: Kamitanoura Station, Tanoura Otachimisaki-koen Station, Higo-Tanoura Station, Uminoura Station, Sashiki Station, Yunoura Station
- Tanoura - Ashikita - Tsunagi Town - Minamata City
The Fureai Tsukuru Bus Service (ふれあいツクールバス) is run by the Ashikita Town Hall, and services different regions of Ashikita, particularly the more remote, mountainous regions.
Aso-Kumamoto Airport can be accessed by train to Yatsushiro Station or Shin-Yatsushiro Station, and from there taking the Super Banpeiyu Bus service from either station.
Fukuoka International Airport can be accessed by bullet train from Shin-Yatsushiro Station or Shin-Minamata Station
- Ashikita High School (熊本県立芦北高等学校)
Junior High Schools:
- Tanoura Junior High School (田浦中学校)
- Sashiki Junior High School (佐敷中学校)
- Yunoura Junior High School (湯浦中学校)
- Tanoura Elementary School (田浦小学校)
- Sashiki Elementary School (佐敷小学校)
- Ono Elementary School (大野小学校)
- Kaiji Elementary School (海路小学校)
- Yoshio Elementary School (吉尾小学校)
- Yunoura Elementary School (湯浦小学校)
- Uchino Elementary School (内野小学校)
Special needs schools:
- Ashikita special needs school (熊本県立芦北支援学校) (for handicapable students)
Tourism and LandmarksEdit
- Utasebune fishing boat tours
- Sashiki Castle Ruins
- Otachimisaki Park Beach
- Ashikita Marine Park Beach
- Ashikita Hoshino Tomihiro Art Museum - sister museum to Midori City Hoshino Tomihiro Art Museum
- Sekishokan (赤松館) cultural heritage site
- Nozaka Bay
- Sashiki Suwa Jinja Shrine
- Yunoura Suwa Jinja Shrine
- Tanoura Aso Jinja Shrine
Festivals and EventsEdit
As of April 2019:
- April: Yunoura Suwa Jinja Shrine Festival, Sashiki Suwa Jinja Shrine Festival
- May: Golf Tournament
- June: Volleyball Tournament, Table Tennis Tournament
- July: Ashikita Summer Festival Celebrations, Bowling Tournament, Clay Pigeon Shooting Tournament, Softball Tournament, Croquet Tournament, Sports Festival
- August: Ashikita Summer Festival Celebrations, Town Dance and Fireworks Display, Baseball Tournament, Swimming Tournament, Badminton Tournament, Beach Volleyball Tournament
- September: Golf Tournament
- October: Ashikita International Festival, Athletics Tournament, Moon Viewing Festival Noh Performance
- November: Ashikita Culture Festival
- January: New Year shrine celebrations, Ashikita Town School Music Festival
- February: Utase-hai Junior Karate Competition, Ashikita Marathon, Ashikita Utasebune Festival
- March: Dekopon Festival, Ashikita Utase Marathon
- Media related to Ashikita, Kumamoto at Wikimedia Commons
- Ashikita official website (in Japanese)
- Kouhou Ashikita town circular
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