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The name Gonohe (五戸) comes from the combination of the words Go (五) meaning the number five and Nohe (戸) meaning a settlement or an administrative division. The naming scheme is prevalent in the communities around southeastern Aomori and northern Iwate prefectures. For example, towns that still have the naming scheme include:

Iwate Prefecture

Ichinohe (一戸)

Ninohe (二戸)

Kunohe (九戸)

Aomori Prefecture

Sannohe (三戸)

Gonohe (五戸)

Rokunohe (六戸)

Shichinohe (七戸)

Hachinohe (八戸)

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The flag of Gonohe with it's emblem in the middle

In the early days of human civilisation in Japan, the area of southern Aomori prefecture was inhabited by the Jomon people around 20,000 years ago during the Paleolithic era. Being part of the greater Hachinohe area, Gonohe history has been tied to the Nejo-Nanbu clan for much of Japan’s development up until the Meiji era. A remnant of the lasting impact of the Meiji period’s modernisation efforts can be seen in the design of the local fire station. The building was built in 1879 with a distinct western style of architecture. Ironically, the original building burned down in 1913 but was rebuilt in 1933 by the townspeople. The building still serves as a fire station to this very day.


Gonohe's old fire station building 

Following the adoption of the municipalities system, Gonohe was recognised as a village in April 1889 and as a town in 1915. From 1955 all the way to 2012, Gonohe was combined with some smaller neighbouring villages. In 1983, Gonohe officially became the sister town of Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. In 1997, the town also signed a similar agreement with the town of Okcheon, Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea.

For hundreds of years, the town of Gonohe has been popular for its horses; samurais from the days of feudal lords, lauded and seeked these horses as their chosen mounts. Nowadays, Gonohe is popular as a meat lover’s paradise; the world famous Kuraishi beef, voted in 2008 as Japan’s top beef; the equally adored Aomori Shamorock chicken, born through the efforts of local scientists and farmers; and of course, when the age of the samurai ended, the age of the horse meat or more affectionately called Sakuraniku began. Gonohe and its neighbouring communities are indeed not as popular as a destination for many travellers to Japan. But, know that somewhere in the northern lands of Aomori, lies a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.


For more information on how to get to Gonohe, click here.

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Gonohe Town Hall

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