Inabe

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Inabe (いなべ市 : Inabe-shi) is a small "city" in the northwestern corner of Mie Prefecture home to about 46,000 people. It provides easy access to places like Yokkaichi and Kuwana in northern Mie as well as Nagoya. The town covers quite a big area but is rather rural.

Name

Inabe in Japanese

Note: The official name is written in hiragana, not the kanji to the right. These characters are used in the name of the river and were used for the old town and district, but aren't used in the current city's name.

The name "Inabe" dates back to the 8th century when an important noble lived in the area and applied the name. The kanji were arbitrarily applied to the word and so have no actual meaning.

When current city was formed, it was decided that the name would officially be written in hiragana and not kanji because "Inabe" is a rather odd reading of the kanji 「員弁」 and was difficult to glean for people not familiar with the area. Before the merger, the local townspeople agreed on the hiragana name in a vote of sorts held amongst the four towns which were merging to form what is now Inabe-shi.

Old Towns

What is now the "city" of Inabe was once four separate entities:

  • Inabe (員弁町)
  • Fujiwara (藤原町)
  • Daian (大安町)
  • Hokusei (北勢町)

Getting Around

Inabe is better navigated with a car, though a bike can get you a number of places

Train

Good news: Inabe has two train lines. Bad news: there are terrible and slow.

Both train lines can get you to the Kintetsu Nagoya Line, the trunk line that runs through Mie, and so you can easily get to Nagoya and elsewhere. Both terminus stations are express stops on the Kintetsu line.

The train lines were both operated by Kintetsu about ten years ago, but are now operated by Sangi Railway:

  • Hokusei Line
    Runs from Ageki and Sohara towards Tōin and Kuwana (Nishi-Kuwana Station)
  • Sangi Line
    Runs from Nishi-Fujiwara and Misato to Kintetsu-Tomida Station

Local Attractions

Scenic Spots

  • Shoho Temple (聖宝寺 Shōhōji)
    Take the Sangi Railway line from Kintetsu-Tomida to its last stop - Nishi-Fujiwara (西藤原) Station. The temple is at the base of Mt. Fujiwara. Look for the big wooden map outside the station for directions. This area is especially beautiful in autumn when the thousands of maple trees turn a glorious red. It takes about 3 hours to climb to the summit of the mountain from here. It is a great day trip with beautiful scenery. The climb is not easy and sometimes you will question if you have lost the path. However getting to the top is worth it.
  • Inabe Park (員弁公園 Inabe Kōen)
    Closest to Sohara (楚原) Station. From the station it is about a 15 walk to the park. You can see the pagoda perched high on the hill in the distance. The park is beautiful with a large man-made lake, a running course, and a fountain. Good for a picnic.
  • Local Shrine
    Down the road from Inabe High School, next to both the train tracks and the road overpass, is a beautiful (and unique) shrine. It's easy to miss, but only a 3-5 minute bike ride from the school. If you look closely, there is a mini-cave in the side of the hill with a spring in it. Sometimes I found tiny land crabs living there. The whole place is so natural that it feels like a scene from "My Neighbor Totoro". But, it isn't in every map, and many of the teachers at the school don't even know about it.

Services

  • Post Office
    Near your house, about 5 minutes to the east.
  • Hyakugo (105) Bank (百五銀行)
    There is one on route 14 about 5 minutes to the east of your apartment, next to the Joyful (which I have not mentioned in places to eat because it is gross). I go to this branch most often and they are always willing to help me! There is another bank inside the Jusco. ATM is open until 9 pm at all Hyakugo! There is a handy English-booklet to help you through your transactions.
    You have to pay your rent to the bank during bank hours, which are conveniently from 9 am to 3 pm. Leave school and pay your rent, all the other teachers do it too, and you might even bump into them at the bank!
  • Laundromat
    During winter I used the laundry mat next to Bonanza City to dry my clothes in the dryer. It has bubbles on the sign.

Shopping

  • Jusco
    Has a nice grocery store and a ton of other basic necessities
  • Bonanza City
    This is another somewhat smaller shopping center with a grocery store, a large book store, a home appliance store and the usual other things. Also, there is a small "take out only" food shop near the left side entrance. As of a year ago, they were actually selling Coca-cola style Slushes (Frozen Cokes, Slurpees, whatever name you like). This was a GODSEND in the hot summers. And while I have seen slush-style drinks many places in Japan, Bonanza City and Kiyomizu-dera street in Kyoto are the only places I have found with Coca-cola flavor.
  • Sanshi Park shopping center.
    Has a nice Uniqlo and some other shops.
  • Second-hand shop
    There's a crazy used-clothing store and everything-under-the-sun included loads of electronics and old old nintendos, gameboys, etc. It is the massive building on the left hand side after the route 421 and route 14 come together, across from McDonald's.
  • Bulldog
    Next to the used clothing store is this place which has things to decorate your apartment with, and also novelty items and halloween costumes. Its kind of like a Party City or a scaled-down Target. Its worth a look.
  • MyCal Kuwana
    Not in Inabe, but your closest major shopping hub

Food and Drink

Supermarkets

  • Jusco
    Nice supermarket right in Jusco
  • Kikuya - at Bonanza City
  • Valor - outside of Inabe, towards Kuwana
    Newly-constructed strip mall with a nice big supermarket.

Local Restaurants

  • Self-serve udon
    On the main road, 14. Go north from Jusco, past the road that leads to Inabe HS, and turn left at the Cosmo gas station. Go for about 5-7 minutes. You will see two udon signs on the left hand side. The one where the driveway kind of dips down is the self-serve place. The other udon shop is just a regular Japanese restaurant. Self-serve place you can get a small or big bowl and add your toppings. Then you had the soup from the water-dispenser. Really nice and family-owned.
  • Chinese Restaurant - on the same road as udon place, but on the right hand side.
  • POPO Cafe
    Right near your apartment. At the intersection of route 14 and Lawsons, it is on your left side. Servers pasta, coffee, desserts, etc.
  • Organic Italian
    Drive towards Kuwana on Route 14. It is on the left in a yellow building and the name is La Paire or something similar. It is written in Japanese and English, and will be on the left side as you head east towards Kuwana. They have a great lunch set, about 20 different kinds of iced tea flavors, a dessert bar, and great atmosphere. If you reach Mos Burger and Hokusei Super you have gone too far.
  • Grazie Gardens
    An Italian family-restaurant with really good pizza

Chain Restaurants

There are a number of places to eat inside Jusco and Bonanza City, with a few more scattered around town.

  • Starbucks Drive-thru - Open until midnight
  • Komeda Coffee
    A godsend in the summer with its massive shaved ice -ice cream things. Thankfully, there is one nearby! And you can get there by bike if you need. Go on the main route, 14, towards Kuwana. The road will then direct you to turn LEFT for Route 421 or go straight for Route 14. Turn left here, and the Komeda is on your left. It is in bright orange letters.
  • Yakiniku Sakai
    Across from Jusco. It has the big red half-sun.
  • Bikkuri Donkey - Next to the Valor supermarket.
    Has hamburger steaks and yummy fries
  • Genki Sushi - at Sanshi Park
    Conveyor belt ¥105 sushi plates
  • Chateraise - at Sanshi Park
    Lots of cakes, cheeses and ice creams.

Recreation and Entertainment

  • Hiking
    There are a ton of mountains with fairly well-used hiking trails. Check with your school's hiking clubs for advice on them (if you have one). One major mountain is Mt. Fujiwara (藤原岳 Fujiwara-dake).
  • Inabe Community Center
    Pool, courts, etc. It is on the other side of town, south of jusco, the school/your apartment. 5 minute drive.
  • Golf
    There are some golf courses in the area, and also a golf shooting range at the school.
  • Onsen
    There's one in Ageki. Take Route 14 away from Toin/Kuwana towards the mountains. You will go for about 20 minutes. You will turn left at the road that has one of those big steel banners over it announcing the town name. Go to the bottom and turn right near the bowling alley. It is on the right.
  • Movie Rental
    There is a place in Tōin called GEO which offers movie rentals.
  • Game Centers
    There's a Sega World at Sanshi Park and one near Yamada Denki as well
  • Gym
    There is a gym on the top floor of the Valor supermarket, on route 421. It is about a 20 minute drive from the apartment but the facilities are brand-new and they have all western-style equipment and about 50 different classes you can take. Also, in the shower rooms there is an onsen-type bath.
  • Inabe High School
    The high school is a pretty modern building and has some extra facilities: pool, weight room, some machines like weird stair-steppers, golf range, soccer field, softball and baseball fields, track lanes, pull up bars, basketball/badminton courts, ping pong tables, and a rock-climbing wall.
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