Location of Kihoku in Ehime Prefecture
|• Mayor||Hidefumi Kouoka|
|• Total||241.87 km2 (93.39 sq mi)|
|Population (March 31, 2017)|
|• Density||45/km2 (120/sq mi)|
|• Tree||Hinoki cypress (桧 Hinoki)|
|• Flower||Azalea (躑躅 Tsutsuji)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|City hall address||800-1 Ōaza Chikanaga, Kihoku-chō, Kitauwa-gun, Ehime-ken
Geography and climate
Kihoku is located in the Onigajō mountain range. The town is composed of several villages merged into one town area. As such, it is spread out over a broad series of small valleys in the town proper. The largest town area, Hiromi, is located in a larger valley in the southwest section of the town. Other areas include Aiji in the north, Mishima centrally, and Hiyoshi in the east. Because of the higher elevation and surrounding mountains, Kihoku is generally cooler than Uwajima and Matsuyama, though at times it can be warmer. The area of Hiyoshi is higher in the mountains than Hiromi, and thus cooler. Snow falls occasionally in the winter, but rarely lasts in the town for more than a few days. Summers are hot and humid, with the rainy season lasting from mid-June to mid-July.
Nearby cities and towns
- Mt. Takatsuki 1,228 m
- Mt. Kakkōdake 1,010 m
- Mt. Izumigamori 755 m
- Mt. Tokigozen 946 m
- Mt. Gozaisho 908 m
Route 320 connects Uwajima to Kihoku, and passes through the neighborhoods of Hiromi and Hiyoshi. Buses run from Uwajima to Hiyoshi several times a day. Kihoku is also connected to Uwajima by a single train line, which arrives once almost every hour during the day.
Kihoku's economy is primarily agricultural. The town's main product is rice, with many paddies throughout the area. The town contains 617 hectares of paddy land yielding around 2,476 tons of rice annually.
Kihoku residents are especially proud of their pheasant meat, which is a town delicacy. In addition to pheasant meat, pheasant sake is also produced. One of the main highlights of the Dechikonka festival is the massive pheasant nabemono, or pheasant stew, which is made for the festival and given away.
- Additional town products
- Shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts, yuzu, chickens, bancha tea, wasabi, melons, strawberries, Japanese yams, cucumbers, turmeric, milk, miso, trout, fish products, crabs, wood products and pottery
Points of interest
- Jōmon Ruins — The remains of a 3,000-year-old Jōmon Period community are located near the eastern section of the Hiromi River. The ruins are composed of a small formation of stones, which are protected by an enclosure and have been designated as a historical site.
- Narukawa Valley — A valley in the southwestern part of the town popular for its beautiful nature. The area offers a multitude of activities, including camping, fishing and hiking. In summer there is a sōmen noodle shop. There is also a scenic lodge that serves pheasant dishes, and an onsen.
- Morinosankakuboshi — A farmer's market in Hiromi where locally grown rice and vegetables can be purchased. In the shops adjacent to the market a wide variety of local products such as miso paste and boar curry are also sold.
- Yumesanchi — A farmer's market in Hiyoshi where locally grown rice and vegetables can be purchased. There is a large shop nearby that sells local souvenirs and food products.
- Yasumoridō Somennagashi —"Yasumori River Somen Restaurant" operates from the middle of July to the end of August each summer. The primary attraction here is the nagashi somen restaurant, where clumps of somen are sent flowing down a metal trough for customers to pluck out with their chopsticks. The noodles are then dipped in a sauce seasoned with yuzu, green onions, sesame, and other ingredients. Also at the restaurant are the Yasumorishōnyu Cave, a small cave which is very cool even during the hottest time of the year, and a small pond stocked with numerous trout for fishing.
- Dechikonka — The town's main annual festival. In the town's old dialect it means "Won't you come out?" The festival usually takes place on the third weekend of October, starting off with taiko performances Saturday evening. On Sunday there are various dance and musical performances on a bandstand by local groups, as well as a performance by a nationally-known singer or entertainer. As in most Japanese festivals there are also numerous vendors and stalls selling a variety of food and other products.
- Kawanobori Ekiden — "River-climbing Relay," an annual event at the beginning of August where teams of runners race up the Hiromi River. Although running in the shallows is permitted, runners must land in the water with every step, making the race very slippery and difficult. There is also a "tetsujin," "iron-man," race for individual participants.
- Tadashi Hyōdō, one of the first female pilots in Japan, and the first Japanese woman to attain a pilot's license.
- Tadashi Shiba, a former pro baseball player with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.