Living in Hinode, Tokyo: Guide for Foreigners
Hinode is a small town that sits between Ome and Akiruno, on the western edge of Tokyo. With less than 20,000 residents and a majority of the area being covered with untouched nature, it's a lovely town for foreigners who want to be within a driving distance from the busy streets of Tokyo, yet want to live in a peaceful and quiet setting.
In this article, we'll cover some of the most exciting things about Hinode, to help you decide whether to consider it as your new home in Japan.
The Meeting Place Of Presidents
Hinode is a small town that is off the beaten path for most tourists. But in the late 80s, it was a meeting spot for prominent political figures. Yasuhiro Nakasone, Japan's prime minister at the time, had a cottage in Hinode. There he invited the current U.S. president, Ronald Reagan, to hold a summit, meant to strengthen the relationship between the two nations. After Yasuhiro's resignation as prime minister, he invited many other politicians to his cottage, including one of South Korea's presidents and a past prime minister of the former Soviet Union.
"Hinode seiundo" via Public Domain
In 2006, Nakasone donated his cottage to the town as a museum and memorial hall, and it is now open to tourists. The two-story building is decorated with a combination of eastern and western elements, and visitors can enjoy a cup of tea on the very chair President Reagan sat at during their summit. The area surrounding the cottage has been designated as a public park.
A Small Town With A Rich History
The rich history of Hinode stars way before these important political meetings. This mountain-town has many preserved historical homes and religious centers, some of which date from the late Edo period, some much older.
One of the most significant historical sights in the town is Myokengu Shrine, which dates back to 685 AD. The original walls of this gorgeous shrine, unfortunately, couldn't be preserved, but it was wonderfully replicated in 1987. The Entakuzan Hokoji Temple from the Edo period is also an interesting sight, mainly after the Great Buddha statue was completed in 2018.
Though visiting these historical structures may make you feel like you've traveled back in time, the Tokyo Hinode Bukeyashiki will give you that experience in a more literal manner. This Samurai House was built in 1881 and can now be rented for accommodation and gatherings. The guests can also enjoy an entertaining ninja experience, where they dress as the legendary warriors and learn how to wield a sword like a true ninja master.
Finally, you can visit the Small Museum of Japanese Warehouses (Chiisana Kura No Shiryokan) that houses more than 200 historical items from all around Japan.
A Pleasant Home For Nature Lovers
Hinode is surrounded by mountains and forests, and there are also many hiking trails you can explore. As you walk to the north, you will stumble upon a dozen small shrines, maintained public parks and the Shogaiseishunnoyu Tsurutsuru Onsen, a hot spring where you can recuperate your strength.
And though the western part of the city feels as if you went back in time, the city center offers more modern housing options. Rent prices can vary greatly, and you can find everything from a low budget apartment for under ¥80,000 ($730) per month to high-end flats for double that price. If you're lucky, you might stumble upon a historic house for rent - so keep your eyes open.
Packing an impressive history and vast nature in a seemingly small and sparsely populated area, Hinode is a superb opportunity for foreigners who want to live close to the mountains yet still be reasonably close to central Tokyo.
Sources: TokyoCheapo, LifeinTokyo, Tamashima, Taiken
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