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Ugo Town Hall
Location of Ugo in Akita Prefecture
|• -Mayor||Yutaka Ando|
|• Total||203.57 km2 (78.60 sq mi)|
|Population (June 2013)|
|• Density||69.1/km2 (179/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|• Tree||Japanese apricot|
|• Flower||Pheasant's eye (Adonis ramosa)|
|• Bird||Japanese bush warbler|
|Address||177 Azanakano, Nishimonai, Ugo-machi, Ogachi-gun, Akita 012-1131|
Ugo (羽後町 Ugo-machi?) is a town located in Ogachi District, Akita Prefecture, Japan. As of June 2013, the town had an estimated population of 15,948 and a population density of 69.1 persons per km2. The total area was 230.75 km2.
Ugo is located in southern Akita Prefecture, on the Ogachi Plain (雄勝平野 Ogachi heiya?), which is bordered by the Dewa mountains (出羽山脈 Dewa sanmyaku?) to the west and the Ou mountains (奥羽山脈 Ou sanmyaku?) to the east.
Ugo is divided into seven distinct areas:
- Nishimonai (西馬音内?) is the cultural and economic hub of the town and is home to most of the residents. Nishimonai is also home to the majority of restaurants, shops, drinking establishments, and some small parks. Every August the town's most famous festival the Bon Odori is held on the streets of Nishimonai.
- Miwa (三輪?) is the second largest district in Ugo and is home to one or two small soba shops. It also houses Miwa Suga Jinjya, the oldest and most important shrine in town.
- Motonishi (元西?) Mostly a residential area, although there are some shops, and some sights to see.
- Niinari (新成?) is, much like all of Ugo, heavy with farms. However, it is also the home of Arcadia park as well as the only onsen in Ugo.
- Meiji (明治?), Sendō (仙道?), and Tashiro (田代?) are all pretty much exclusively residential and farming areas, however there are some sights to see like secluded shrines and temples, agricultural co-ops, and lots and lots of rice fields.
Ugo has a Humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) with large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. Precipitation is significant throughout the year, but is heaviest from August to October. Ugo is noted for its heavy snows with accumulated snows exceeding two meters in most winters.
The area of present-day Ugo was part of ancient Ugo Province, dominated by the Satake clan during the Edo period, who ruled Kubota Domain under the Tokugawa shogunate. The modern town of Ugo was established on April 1, 1955 by the merger of the town of Nishimonai with six surrounding villages, all from Ogachi District.
The economy of Ugo is based on agriculture, primarily rice cultivation.
- Elementary Schools
- Junior High Schools
- High Schools
- Akita Prefectural Ugo High School (秋田県立羽後高等学校?)
Places of worship
- Miwa Suga Shrine (三輪須賀神社 -jinja?): Oldest and most important Shinto shrine in Ugo. The main building of this shrine was built in the Muromachi era with several others having been added over the following 400 years. Like most shrines in Ugo this shrine is surrounded by many cedar trees.
- Taiheisan Shrine (太平山神社 -jinja?): A 15-minute car ride and a 25-minute hike over a well worn mountain trail with many wooden stairs will bring you to the shrine at the top of Ugo's tiny Mt. Taihei. The shrine provides a sweeping view of southern Akita from Yuzawa all the way to Daisen. Especially recommended in fall.
- Nishimonai Ontake Shrine (西馬音内御嶽神社 -jinja?): Located next to the Nishimonai post office, this is Nishimonai's main shrine. It is located in the center of a stand of tall cedars.
- Nanamagari Pass (七曲峠 Nanamagari-tōge?): A seriously windy mountain path that leads over the branch of the Dewa mountains that cuts across the western third of Ugo. It leads from Motonishi into Tashiro, and is a popular challenge for cyclists. There are multiple areas to stop and take in the natural beauty as well as the local spring water known for extending life – chōmeisui (長命水?).
- Suzuki House (鈴木家住宅 Suzukike-jūtaku?): The oldest house in Akita prefecture. The main part of the house was built in the first half of the 17th century and the gate house being finished by 1733.
- Gorinzaka (五輪坂?): A beautiful park complex Located in Nishimonai and Niinari. The is a small golf course with driving range (which doubles as a ski slope in the winter,) lots of picnic and party area, and beautiful pond, as well as the Toshitoland spa and restaurant building.
Local festivals and events
Ugo is well known in Akita for the annual Bon Dance in Nishimonai.
Nishimonai Bon Odori
The Nishimonai Bon Odori (西馬音内盆踊り?) is held every year from August 16–18. It is a symbolic dance to show proper respect and gratefulness to one's deceased ancestors. It is ranked as one of the top 3 bon dances in Japan. It began as a harvest dance in Nishimonai in about 1280. In 1601 the lord of Nishimonai burned his castle after a defeat and the people danced among the ruins to remember their lord. These two dances were merged in the late 18th century to form the dance's last incarnation which (despite attempts to stop it in the early 20th century) continues to this day. It is the biggest festival of the year, drawing people from all over Tohoku, and the country at large
The shops and food stands open at around 5. The dance begins as the sun goes down and continues until about 11.
The annual Yukitopia Festival (ゆきとぴあ七曲 Yukitopia nanamagari?) takes place on the last Saturday and Sunday of January. A horse-drawn carriage follows set course through Nishimonai, Motonishi, and all the way up the Nana Magari mountain road, crossing into Tashiro. The road is lined with small lanterns made from snow.
Noted people from Ugo
- Satō Nobuhiro – Meiji period political theorist
Media related to Ugo, Akita at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website (Japanese)
- Orient Watch Factory Profile, Accessed 9 October 2014