御立岬公園 Otachamisaki Park
The love lock tower.
For those who have attended the Ashikita Beach Party in the past, this park will be familiar. Not only does it have a gorgeous beach that’s great in the summer, but it also is home to a tower covered in “love locks” from the top of which there is a beautiful view of the Yatsushiro Sea with Amakusa and Kagoshima in the distance. The park also has several well-maintained paths for strolling on, and an onsen in the centre. For cherry blossom season, it may be hands down the best place to go in the prefecture – the view from the love lock tower is absolutely stunning.
Address: 〒869-5305 熊本県葦北郡芦北町田浦町
芦北マリンパークビーチAshikita Marine Park Beach
View from the observation tower.
View from the observation tower.
By the water.
This beach in Ashikita is not as big as the one at Otachimisaki, but it is usually a little less crowded, especially during the summer when people are flocking to Ashikita’s beaches from all over Kyushu. It’s also got some great trails that lead up to a big windmill on a hill known as Windy Point, and something called the Observation Tower that is something between a giant statue, a tower, and a picnic spot. Quaint wooden picnic tables can be found at other spots on the paths as well. During most of the year parking is free, but during July and August on weekends there may be 500 yen parking cost to enter the beach area.
Address: 〒869-5454 熊本県葦北郡芦北町大字鶴木山
熊本県葦北郡芦北町佐敷 城 Sashiki Castle Ruins
The view from Sashiki castle ruins.
The slightly hidden staircase leading up to the castle.
Atop a mountain in the centre of Sashiki, the southern part of Ashikita, there are the remains of a castle that once stood there. Though the ruins themselves aren’t particularly stunning, the stone steps leading up to the top offer a great little hike (approximateyl 20 minutes) through mountain forest, and the view from the top lets you see all of Sashiki, the ocean, and the mountains around it. If you park at the community centre at the base of the mountain (〒869-5441熊本県葦北郡芦北町佐敷２０６－1), just walk a little down the street you came on to get to the parking lot (you would be walking towards what looks like a dead end) and you’ll see the entrance to the staircase up to the castle on the right, which is shown in the above photo. It takes less than fifteen minutes to climb to the top, and there are picnic tables along the way.
Address: 佐敷城跡 Sashiki, Ashikita, Ashikita District, Kumamoto Prefecture 869-5441
ダ・ロープ亭 Daropute Steakhouse
This restaurant is inexplicably tucked away in a particularly hard to find part of the mountains, which is mildly confusing given how incredibly delicious the food is. The restaurant serves giant slabs of Ashikita beef that you grill on a hot plate in front of you along with vegetables and other types of meats. For the vegetarians out there this wouldn’t be the ideal place, but for meat lovers it may just be the best steak you can get in Kyushu. It’s surprisingly popular given its obscure location (they have a Daropute shuttle bus that regularly brings large groups of people to and from) so it’s probably best to call and make a reservation in advance.
Address: 〒869-5576 熊本県葦北郡,芦北町高岡653-1
あしきたメガソラ Ashikita Mega Solar
The Ashikita solar fields at dusk.
Less than a ten minute drive up the mountain from Daropute steakhouse you can find Ashikita’s stunning solar fields. A vast stretch of solar panels might sound boring, but when you see it you’ll understand why they have it set up with a bench under a shaded lookout spot. An electronic sign that explains how much power is being generated can give you a slightly better idea of just how awesome what you’re seeing really is.
Address: Takaoka, Ashikita, Ashikita District, Kumamoto Prefecture 869-5576
大野温泉センタ Oono Onsen Center
About twenty minutes from “downtown” Ashikita, you will find Oono Onsen Center. Ashikita has four different onsens in and around the town, but this one is the largest/nicest option by far. From the IC exit at Ashikita, make a right onto the 27 (県道27号線) and follow the road for about twenty minutes until you see what is unmistakably an onsen center, with a big, brown, round building at the very front.
Rates: 300 yen for adults, 200 for children
六六 Roku Roku
Ashikita’s most handsome ALTs enjoying some Roku Roku beers.
Breakfast food…for dinner.
In the unlikely event you and a small group of friends happens to be passing through Ashikita and are looking for a great izakaya to chill at, Roku Roku is the place. The owner has a thing for old-school Americana novelty items, and the hipster staff and quirky interior decorating seem more like something you’d find in a young neighbourhood of a big city rather than a tiny inaka in Kumamoto Prefecture. The food is absolutely delicious and they serve a wide range of beers, including some foreign beers (Guinness!) that aren’t always so easy to find around these parts. However, due to it’s popularity and the fact that it’s only got about four tables depending on how they’ve configured the furniture that night, calling ahead is advisable. It’s about a ten minute walk from the Sashiki train station.
Address: 熊本県葦北郡芦北町花岡1849-4 Ashikita-machi Ashikita-gun, Kumamoto, Japan
カラオケシティイーグル Eagle Karaoke
Some more good-looking ALTs enjoying a night out in Ashikita.
This is the one karaoke place in town with separate rooms, and is also the easiest to find – it’s a very colourful bright blue building right on Route 3. You can choose“ nomihoudai ”(all you can drink) if you stay for two hours or more, but if you sign up for one hour and decide to extend to two hours, you can’t switch to nomihoudai half-way through. Make sure to specify you want nomihoudai if you are staying for more than two hours. Always a good time!
Address: 2506 Ashikita, Ashikita District, Kumamoto Prefecture 869-5461