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Hanamaki (花巻市 Hanamaki-Shi?) is a
Hanamaki City is a city in Iwate Prefecture. It has a population of about 150,000 when including the recently-mergerd smaller areas. It is approximately 45 minutes from Morioka, and three hours from Tokyo, by train .
To/from the airportEdit
Iwate-Hanamaki airport in Hanamaki is the nearest airport to Hanamaki-Shi
Hanamaki consists of three main train stations; Hanamaki, Hanamaki Airport and Shin-Hanamaki (新花巻?) where the Tohoku Shinkansen passes through.
Shin-Hanamaki is primarily served by the 'Yamabiko' service. This service is slower than the faster 'Hayate' service (which only calls at Shin-Hanamaki three times per day). The 'Yamabiko' train offers daily service to both Hachinohe and Tokyo. Shin-Hanamaki is about 3 hours from Tokyo Station.
A round trip to Tokyo is approximately \ 27,000, although various package deals can be found at JR shops at main stations. Shin-Hanamaki-Morioka One-Way (11 Minutes): \3,150
Shin-Hanamaki-Tokyo One-Way (Approximately 3 hours, depending on the Shinkansen service opted for) \13,000
Hanamaki - Kitakami (10 Minutes): \230
Hanamaki - Ichinoseki (30 Minutes): \980
Hanamaki has several local bus services run by JR Bus Tohoku. There are two night bus servies running daily to Tokyo, and other services to Sendai and Yokohama.
The closest interchange to Hanamaki is the I.C., on the ======= Expressway.
Hanamaki City itself is more of a sprawl. A bicycle is extremely convenient and well-worth the investment. They can usually be picked up at Garden Centre for around \10,000. There are designated cycle lanes on most of the roads, in addition to which, there is a cycle and pedestrian route running directly from Hanamaki station through various areas, ending up in Matsuzono-cho. It should be noted however, that cycling on the roads during winter on a bicycle is extremely dangerous. Drivers tend to be very impatient and have little sense of spacial awareness, which makes cycling on the icy roads very unnverving.
Cars are also very popular, especially during winter, and if one wishes to make a quick escape to the nearby country-side or for a weekend away, a car can prove to be invaluable. Within Iwate it is possible to hire cars, so you are not tied down to the responsibility of owning one (and the costs this can involve.)
Most restaurants and services are found either along Route 4, or Main Street (also called "Kamichou").
The "center" of Hanamaki is =TO BE COMPELTED=
As of April 2010, there were two Prefectural ALT JET placements and one private ALT in Hanamaki-City.
Hanamaki has two ALTs under the employment of the Iwate Prefectural Board of Education (BOE)
One ALT is responsible for Hanamaki-Kita Senior High School  and Shiwa Comprehensive Senior High School. Hana-Kita is widely considered to be one of the top-three academic high schools in Iwate, with over 99% of students from 2007/`08 academic year going on to University. Hana-Kita is known also for its many sports clubs.
Towa Senior High School closed April 2010 due to lack of intake.
The other ALT - 2
One of Two prefectural JET ALTs are recontrated in August, 2010, meaning that one prefecutral JET ALT did not recontract in August 2010
Aside from the ALT and eikawa community, there is not an established presence of foreigners in Hanamaki. Having said that, many ALTs like to meet up frequently, and also meet up with many of the Japanese community, be it through study or friendships. Morioka, is not too far for a night out, nor is nearby Kitakami, so socialising and a support network have a strong presence amongst the foreign community.
The Hanamaki International Centre  is located near to Hanamaki JR train station. This is a vibrant place, and many internationalisation projects are going on, Examples include guest speakers giving presentations on foreign topics and culture, or arranging school trips to other countries that have in recent years included America and the UK.
Places to visitEdit
The Hanamaki Matsuri is held annually in early September, and attracts many people from surrounding towns and cities. It is a three-day event consisting of floats, parades, shrine-carrying and processions. The main focal point of the parade is along kamichou (Main Street). Although this street is often quiet for most of the year, during the festival it completely changes into a bustling area. Food stalls are present up and down pavement, and many of the side roads are lined as far as the eye can see with food stalls and other types of memerobillia. The festival food is also delicious, with street vendors selling yakisoba, sausages, and a myriad of Japanese foods, not to mention ice-cream, candy-floss, other sweets, soft-drinks and beer.
As for ALTs taking part in the festivities, it is usually easy to become involved. Occasioanlly, ALTs will either carry shrines or take part in the dancing or taiko drumming, although advance preparation will usually be required for the latter two.
Around the time of the festival, many young Japanese people return from University to either witness or take part in the parade of their city. Hanamaki festival has a very long-standing tradition, and the citizens are very proud of their city's history.
Hanamaki has an abundance of shops ranging from big national chains to small independant stores. Many are hidden away, but if you can find them, you can be sure to locate something that you are after. The shops are located in different areas throughout the city.
- ARTE (アルテ), 岩手県 花巻市, (Located on the main road from Matsuzono-cho to Hanamaki station.), n/a, [n/a]. Everyday, 10AM-10PM. A well-stocked grocery store, though foreign food is limited. It also includes a clothes section and household item section downstairs, along with TV and Video games upstairs.
- SunLife (サンライフ), 岩手県 花巻市 松園町, (Located in Matsuzono-cho, in the northern area of Hanamaki), n/a, [n/a]. Everyday, 10AM-11PM. A basic grocery store. Not a huge variety, but everything you would need for daily living.
- Yakudo (ヤクドオ), 岩手県 花巻市 松園町, n/a, [n/a]. Mon-Sat, 10AM-10PM; Sun/Hol, 9AM-10PM. A large pharmacy / chemist chain. Toiletries and other daily hygiene goods can be purchased here. However, prescription-only medicine is not available. There are many of these in Hanamaki, with another located on Route 4.
- Marukan (マルカン), 岩手県 花巻市 , (In Downtwon Hanamaki along kamichou), n/a, [n/a]. Everyday approx. 10AM-8PM (Mom and Pop store, hours vary). A rather run-down department store. There is a small grocery department in the basement, along with other usual department store items located on the floors above. Both ARTE and Ito-Yokado are preferable alternatives.
- Ito-Yokado (イトーヨーカド), 岩手県 花巻市 , (In Downtwon Hanamaki), n/a, [n/a]. Everyday approx. 10AM-8PM (Mom and Pop store, hours vary). A large complex located near to Route 4. Linked with ARTE and Marukan, this place has various food outlets, including (as of April 2008) a recently refurbished Mister Donut, a McDonald's and a 7-Eleven. The main shopping area inside includes a very large supermarket. In addition to this, there is the usual array of goods including clothing, household items, video games and toys spread across two floors. There are also several ATMs, including Iwate bank and Tohoku bank. There is plenty of space for parking.
GINGA MALL recently opened is a new shopping area in Hanamaki located near Route 283. The anchor of the mall in a JOIS grocery store and a Tsuderha drug store. There are a few shops inside including fashion boutiques for woman and a massage place. Also a food court can be found in the mall. In the same facility there is an ABC Mart and arcade and some other chain stores.
- 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Lawsons, Sunkus, Various locations throughout Hanamaki. You are never far from one., n/a, 24-hour operation.. Usual convenience store goods. Every day essentials such as lunches, bread, milk and drinks and options to pay for anything bought on the internet.
Home & Garden storesEdit
- Komeri (コメリ), 岩手県 花巻市 松園町., n/a, [n/a]. A relatively small sized garden centre, but everything you could need for garden usage and other daily household items. Sells cookware, furniture, hardware, and many other home products. One member of staff speaks excellent English. A good store. There is also a Power Komeri located on route 4 (towards Morioka) that has a wider selection of goods and a pet center.
- Homac (ホマク), 岩手県 花巻市., n/a, [n/a]. A huge store selling everything you could ever need to equip a house, garden and life in general. Everything from nails, to heaters to carpets, puppies, deodorant, sofas, washing powder etc. A good store.
Home Center Sunday is also a store specializing in similar items as Homac located on Route 4 (towards Kitakami)
There are no stores that sell foreign books in Hanamaki. The closest foreign book store is in Morioka. However there is a pretty good library of books at the international center that can be checked out free of cost generally for 2 weeks at a time.
- K's Denki (ケイズ 電気), 岩手県 花巻市, (Located on a retail park along Route 4. If heading to Hanamaki from Morioka, it is located on your left-hand side.), n/a, [n/a]. 10am - 8pm. Before January 2008, K's Denki was formerly Denkodo, but at the end of December 2007, it was transformed. Huge electronic store stocking everything you could need for daily electronic use such as hi-fis, cameras, heaters, computer equipment, televisions and various phone carrier stalls. Staff speak little English, but navigation around the store is very easy.
- Takeda Sports (タケダ スポーツ), 岩手県 花巻市, (Located directly next door to Hanamaki JR station.), n/a, [n/a]. 10am - 8pm. Takeda Sports needs no introduction. Suffice to say, a sports shop that stocks everything you need. Be aware however, size 29 cm (UK 10) shoes and above are almost near impossible to find in Iwate, or Japan for that matter, so it's best to order footwear online. Not ideal, but there's not a lot of choice in the matter. It is sometimes possible to order shoes in from another store, but this is only if a) your Japanese language is proficient enough, and b) they can locate shoes in your size. NB Worth a visit if only for the jingle played continuously over the tannoy.
- Omiyage (おみやげ), 岩手県 花巻市, (Located directly next door to Hanamaki JR station.), n/a, [n/a]. 10am - 8pm. Omiyage is a quaint little shop, selling all kinds of souvenirs that represent or resemble Hanamaki. Well worth a look.
- Xebio Sports (ゼビオ スポーツ), 岩手県 花巻市, (Located on route 4, behind MacDonalds), n/a, [n/a]. 10am - 8pm. Sports and snowboarding gear.
Hanamaki has an abundance of restaurants. Some excellent albeit expensive izakayas can be found around Hanamaki station with stunning interiors and seating locations or booths. Service is fantastic, and food quality extremely good, but \3,500 per head is not an unusual price to pay.
花巻市 has two McDonald's outlets; one located on Route 4 (also a drive-thru) and the other located at Ito-Yokado.
Strawberry Cones, a pizza take-away and deleviery is located near the city-centre, but prices are hugely exhorbitant for fairly average pizza that claims to be "The best pizza in the world"
Hanamaki has many some good ramen shops.
- ', [n/a].
Hanamaki is infamous for Wanko-soba. Many restaraunts offer this as a speciality.
- ', [n/a].
There is not a real, "foreign food" store in Hanamaki. 'Jupiter', located at Morioka station is the nearest Foreign Food store, although Yamaya in Kitakami is quite near if you have access to a car.
Hanamaki has plenty of places to drink until your heart's content. Most bars, hostess bars, karaoke booths and a bowling alley are situated within the Futabacho area, just off Kamichou. All have places where you can drink. Two places of note are Daison-Shoko, located on upstairs in one of the buildings (there is a sign outside), and also 'Nakayoshi' literally around the corner from Daison-Shoko. Very friendly staff in both places. 'Pistol' is open late, playing heavy rock to an atomsphere of dimmed lighting. The Darts Bar just opposite Nakayoshi is open very late and owned by an exceptionally friendly couple. 'Basic' jazz bar is relaxed and homely, although rather expensive.
- Tsubohachi (つぼ八花巻市), 岩手県 花巻市, (Located just outside the back entrance of Hanamaki Station. Walk along the road in front of the bicycle racks until you come to an Iwate bank on the corner. Tsubohachi is located right next door. The bright sign has a blue background, with つぼ八 in red kanji.), n/a, [n/a]. 5pm 'til late. Tsubohachi is a chain Izakaya, found througout Japan. The food at this particular location is fairly good. A "draft beer" is 発泡酒, a low-malt, beer-like drink.
There are serveral bars and a newly-opened Irish bar lcoated in Hanamaki.
Hanamaki is a unique place to live. It is well known around Iwate, and often outside Iwate. It is a city that has every amenity you could need, but is also not at all far from the country side and some stunning mountain scenery that encircles the city. Hanamaki is a sprawl, and oftentimes, finding particular buildings can be troublesome, but locals are more than willing to help. The local population is very friendly. Often they will keep themselves to themselves, but this should not be misconstrued as hostility.
Banking in Iwate offers Iwate Bank and Tohoku Bank.Most ALTs in the area use Bank of Iwate. Sometimes, they will also have a Postal Savings account as well.
- Bank of Iwate (岩手銀行 花巻市 ), 岩手県 花巻市, (Located in various locations, but the main one is located along kamichou. There is also one just outside the back entrance of Hanamaki JR station.), n/a, . Weekdays, 8AM-9PM; Sat, 9AM-7PM; Sun/Hol 9AM-7PM. Iwate Ginko is the major back for Iwate Prefecture. Their cash-cards work in Post Office ATMs around Japan, and have branches in all other cities around Iwate. There is also a bracnh in Tokyo.
Bank of Iwate ATM Locations in Hanamaki
- Hanamaki Hospital (weekdays only till 6)
- Shopping Plaza on Route 4 that houses Yellow Hat, Big House, K's Denki, Homac etc.
note: this are merely actual "Bank of Iwate" ATM's. There are other ATM's that accept the card, but may charge an added fee for its use (such as the post office, or the ATM at the 7-Eleven in Matsuzono-cho)
Postal Service is useful not only for mail, but also for the excellent Postal Savings system, which can be used even on bank holidays Japan.
- ', 岩手県 花巻市, Mail Services: 9AM-5PM; ATM:Weekdays 8:45AM-5PM, Sat. 9AM-5PM; Sun/Hol: 9AM-5PM; Postal Insurance: Weekdays 9AM-4PM.
- Hanamaki-City Hospital (岩手県 花巻市 病院), 岩手県花巻市花城町４番２８号, (The hospital is not well-sign-posted in English. From Hanamaki station, turn right along the road past the Grand Ciel hotel until you see Speak-Up Eikaiwa school on your left. Head down that road and Hanamki Hospital is on your left just past the hanamaki prefectual offices. There is also the Hanamaki Prefectual Hospital located downtown which is a bigger facility.), . Mainly an out-patient hosptial. Staff speak little English, although occasionally there maybe a nurse on duty who has excellent English. Waiting times can be very long, so early arrival for appointments is a good idea.
- 777 (777), (Located in Matsuzono-cho), A male barbershop. Really friendly staff, but little English is spoken so it's best to bring a picture of what you're after!
JTB is the only major travel agent in Hanamaki. Otherwise the closest travel agents are in Morioka. For domestic travel by train there is a travel agent located at Hanamki station called View Plaza. There is also TKS on Odori which specializes in domestic travel as well.