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Ako City

Home of the 47 Ronin

Ako is a city in western Hyogo Prefecture near the border with Okayama. It is my hometown and where I live. Ako may be small but there are many places to see and activities to experience.

One point of pride for the city is the nationally famous TV saga Tadaomi Storehouse which is based on an event from Ako’s history. This television show is well-known throughout Japan but the real story happened here and is re-enacted every year on December 14th. The Loyal Retainer Procession is part of a festival that commemorates the valor and loyalty of the 47 ronin or samurai without a master. The story goes that Lord Asano Naganori was forced to commit suicide after an assault on a court official called Kira Yoshinaka (Kouzuke no suke) at the beginning of the 18th century. Lord Naganori’s samurai plotted for two years to avenge their master’s death and this feat has lived on in theater, television and in festival celebration.

One of my favorite things about Ako is the delicious food. Ako produced salt is used in a variety of local dishes such as noodles or ramen served with a light broth. Please try it if you come to Ako.

My favorite place in Ako is the Ako Seaside Park. It has a salt farm and an amusement park where children and adults can experience salt making, rides and athletics. There are also boats for rent and a campsite. The maritime scene is beautiful and is a great place to take a walk.

Oishi Shrine is a place that is often full of tourists and is well worth a visit. The reason for its popularity is that the 47 ronin are enshrined there. Statues representing each warrior stand in memory of their past deeds. They face each other forming two lines leading to the shrine’s entrance.

Not far from Oishi Shrine are the ruins of Ako Castle. The main buildings are gone but some of the walls and outer buildings have been rebuilt. You can climb to the top of some of the rebuilt sections and get a good look of the surrounding area.

Ako is a wonderful place to feel Japan’s history.

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