Location of Shimoichi in Nara Prefecture
|• Total||62.01 km2 (23.94 sq mi)|
|Population (September 1, 2007)|
|• Density||119.40/km2 (309.2/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|- Flower||Portulaca pilosa|
|Address||1960 Ōaza Shimoichi, Shimoichi-machi, Nara-ken
|Website||Town of Shimoichi|
The town is perhaps famous for the Tsurube Sushi Shop which features in the popular kabuki play Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura. The shop still operates today, and claims to have existed as far back as the 17th century.There are several restaurants and tea houses throughout the town offering sushi, okonomiyaki, udon, takoyaki, and soba.
Shimoichi-cho is well known for its multiple waribashi (disposable chopsticks) factories, onsen, persimmons, shrine ornaments and wood work, bath salt plant, and regional dessert souvenir factory. There are also konyaku, somen, and soba factories.
Shimoichi-cho also has its own television station. Shimoichi-Terebi offers news coverage, local sight-seeing information and tours, as well as various public information; such as fire, earthquake, and storm updates. Shimoichi-terebi offers a large amount of local school coverage for sports and cultural festivals.
Shimoichi-cho may be reached via Kintetsu Railways on the Minami Osaka Line. Get off at Shimoichiguchi in Oyodo-cho and walk across Sangokobashi Bridge to arrive at Shimoichi-cho. 5-10 minute walk.
Hatsuichi is an annual festival early February which means “first market.” Long ago in Shimoichi before supermarkets and modern conveniences existed, the townspeople would gather every ten days for a market. This started on the first of every month. Hatsuichi marked the first market of the new lunar year. Over time Hatsuichi and Ebisu Shrine joined efforts to form the modern day festival. Ebisu is a business god and one of seven Chinese gods derived from China. Ebisu Shrine is colorfully decorated with illuminated lanterns, traditional shrine ornaments and colors for this event. This festival marks the annual opening of the shrine in which members of the community and visitors may enter and pray for good business. In 2009, Nara’s mascot Sento-kun visited the event as the streets were lined with various fair foods, games, door prizes, and plants for sale. On the afternoon of Hatsuichi an annual shrine pulling parade occurs.
In July Shimoichi-cho’s neighboring town, Oyodo-cho, will host the Yoshino-gawa festival which includes a dynamic fireworks display and various festival games and foods.
Early October the town will hold a sports festival in honor of Japan’s national “Health & Sports Day” holiday. An opening ceremony including fireworks and lighting of an Olympic style torch takes place as the neighborhoods compete in various games. Door prizes are awarded on the neighborhood and town level. Door prizes include; bags of rice, bicycles, toaster ovens, heaters, tissue, beer, game systems, and various household items. The town’s schools participate in the event with various dances and performances.
The Aki Matsuri (Fall Festival) will be held middle to late October. Activities involve a parade of lanterns and drums down main street until reaching its destination at one of the town’s temples which resides on near the top of a mountain. The town’s bunkasai (cultural festival) will also take place near this time inside the community building. Art including calligraphy, pottery, painting, flower arrangement, etc. will be on display from local artists.
Shimoichi-cho has two elementary and one junior high school. Once students reach the high school level they must either move somewhere else, but most go to high school in a neighboring town
The Junior High School has over 200 students and about 30 faculty and staff members. Their mascot is the dragonfly. School clubs include; volleyball, chorus, brass band, art, shuji (calligraphy), baseball, track and field, English, and table tennis. SJHS’s chorus club has a 50 year first place winning streak. The baseball club also has prefectural reputation and was chosen to participate in a prefectural baseball tournament during the 2007-2008 school year.
The Shimoichi-cho Board of Education is a participant in the Japanese Education and Training (JET) Programme. The JET Programme is a Japanese government organization which places native English speakers in predominately rural areas, offering students and the community an opportunity to converse with a native English speaker as well as enjoy cultural exchanges. Shimoichi-cho currently has two native English speakers who work as Assistant Language Teachers (ALT). One works in the elementary schools, while the other works in the Junior High School. Past ALTs have been from the United States of America and South Africa. The junior high school has had an ALT since the year 1997. The elementary school first acquired an ALT in the year 2006.
- 1889-Shimoichi village is created.
- 1890-Shimoichi village is renamed Shimoichi town.
- 1956-Akino village and Niu village is merged into Shimoichi town.
- Niukawakami Shrine
- Hirobashi Cherry tree Forest
- Gangyō temple
- Shimoichi onsen; 500 yen, includes separate bathing areas for men and women as well as a restaurant.
- Yoshino, Nara; a popular spring tourist attraction due to its millions of sakura (cherry blossoms). 10 minutes via Shimoichi-guchi Kintetsu train station
- Asuka; 20 minutes to Asuka via Shimoichi-guchi Kintetsu train station
- Kashiharajingu Shrine; 40 minutes to Kashiharajingu-mae via Shimoichi-guchi Kintetsu train station
- Aruru “Diamond City” Aeon Mall; 50 minutes to Yamato-yagi via Shimoichi-guchi Kintetsu train station, from Yamato-Yagi take bus #40.
Media related to Shimoichi, Nara at Wikimedia Commons
- Shimoichi town official website (Japanese)