The City of Minami-Soma
The City of Minami-Soma is located in the northern part of the Hamadori region (close to the border to Miyagi prefecture), the easternmost of the three Fukushima prefecture regions (Aizu and Nakadori being the other two). Favoured by its coastal location, the city of Minami-Soma and its approximately 70,000 citizens are blessed with a relatively agreeable climate throughout the year.
What is little-known by people, who do not live nearby: Although the region has a long history, Minami-Soma itself has been established quite recently. In 2006, the three cities of Kashimamachi, Odakamachi and Haramachi-shi have been consolidated to the new City of Minami-Soma (the former cities were converted into city districts).
Due to its good infrastructure, Minami-Soma can be accessed in many ways: going by train, the “Super Hitachi” Limited Express, that is operating on the Jōban-Line between Ueno and Sendai, can be used. If you prefer to use your car, get off the highway at Jōban-Tomioka Interchange (approx. 30km from Minami-Soma).
Within spitting distance (30km radius) to Minami-Soma a thermal power plant of Tohoku Electric Power Co., Inc. as well as a nuclear power plant of TEPCO are located – both having an extensive influence on the employment and prosperity of this region.
If you are interested in sightseeing, the “Soma Nomaoi”, a nationally designated important intangible folk cultural asset, can be warmly recommended. This traditional festival looks back on an over 1000 years lasting proud history (already starting in the Meiji period).
It is held annually in July and brings together a large number of spectators – not only the young and the old from the home town, but also a great number of tourists come to Minami-Soma to be part of this 3 days lasting event.
About 500 heavy armed mounted samurai can be observed lining-up on the road and getting ready in file. Furthermore, horse races and finally the highlight of the event – the “Shinki Soudatsu-sen” will be performed.
And all this is being performed in the middle of Minami-Soma’s beautiful nature with its mountains, rivers and the sea.
Tasty vegetables and fruits as well as rice from local farmers can be enjoyed throughout the year. Even to the people of Tōkyō it is an open secret that the milk used for the famous “Ice Manjyu” (popular sweets from the local Matsunaga milk plant) is very toothsome.
Very well known as a splendid surfspot is the swimming area around Kitaizumi Beach. Surfers from all quarters gather in the summertime as well as in the cold season. The fact that also International Surf Competitions have been held here in the past, maybe gives an idea of the importance of this famous surfspot.
Certainly not only for surfers, but also for families with their children, the beach provides a diverse playground.
Kashima-ku with its fishing harbour gives you the opportunity to choose freshly-caught seafood right away from the market in order to enrich your daily menu.
People who prefer fishing by themselves will come across the various river fishing spots (e.g. sweetfish and masu salmon in summer, salmon in autumn can be catched). Furthermore, the riverside also provides many opportunities for leisure activities – whether it`s for children or e.g. BBQ events with friends (a very famous autumn outdoor event in the Minami-Tohoku region is the so called “Imo-ni-kai”, where friends come together to cook some kind of potato soup with several other ingredients over the campfire).
Plenty of edible wild plants as well as a huge variety of vermins and beetles (e.g. stag beetles, rhinoceros beetles etc.) can be experienced in the mountains. Recently, also a viewing platform has been built on Mt. Kunimiyama from where you have a panoramic view on the Haramachi-ku district.
As you can see, the city of Minami-Soma can not show off with big cinemas or shopping malls, but it offers its people something that is much more enjoyable: a life blessed by nature.
Having a look at everyday life of the citizens supports this thesis: whether it is the farmers, who cultivate tasty vegetables, fruits (e.g. strawberries) and rice, or it is the people who continue processing the natural products (local supermarkets that deal with the products etc.). Nearly everyone is involved in this circular flow – highly visible when the Golden Week approaches every year and complete families go outside and lend a helping hand planting the rice.