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Hokuriku Shinkansen Extension: 3 things to do around Komatsu Station

Hokuriku Shinkansen Extension: 3 things to do around Komatsu Station

In case you missed it, the big JR news of last month was the extension of the Hokuriku Shinkansen (北陸新幹線) between Kanazawa Station (金沢駅) to Tsuruga Station in Central Japan. In other words, there are now six newly-opened shinkansen stations, namely:

  • Komatsu Station (小松駅)
  • Kagaonsen Station (加賀温泉駅)
  • Awaraonsen Station (芦原温泉駅)
  • Fukui Station (福井駅)
  • Echizen-Takefu Station (越前たけふ駅)
  • Tsuruga Station (敦賀駅)


Especially for users of the 7-day Hokuriku Arch Pass, the big question is probably: what's worth extending my journey, and making those extra stops for? If you've barely heard of any of these new stops, I wouldn't blame you. The extension does indeed cover very untouched territory for international tourists. But that's precisely what makes this such a valuable opportunity to discover a fresh and local side of Japan, not yet touristified and overcrowded. 


As a five-year resident of this region, I can vouch that there are so many hidden gems, which I continue to chance upon everyday here. Over a series of articles, I hope to share some of this local insider knowledge. Even if you only have time for a quick hop off the Shinkansen, fret not as I'll focus on things within walking distance from the stations! That said, I strongly recommend giving these places more time if you can, such local places are best enjoyed deeply and slowly.


I’ll start off the series with the stop right after Kanazawa Station: Komatsu Station, located in the heart of my current home of Komatsu City (小松市) in Ishikawa Prefecture (石川県)!


Komatsu is for KOMATSU LTD. 

The giant vehicles displayed at Komatsu no Mori. (Image credit: Hui Min)


Many of you have probably not heard of Komatsu City before, but perhaps you can vaguely recall seeing some yellow construction machines labelled “KOMATSU” before, even back home. Yes, global construction machine-maker KOMATSU LTD. is actually from the city of Komatsu! And that will quickly dawn upon you as you step off the Shinkansen at Komatsu Station, and spot a pair of giant yellow machines right outside. 


The station area once served as the KOMATSU LTD. headquarters, but today it has been converted into a park called Komatsu no Mori (こまつの杜), marked by a giant dump truck and excavator—big enough to rival the famed Tsuzumi-mon Gate of Kanazawa Station


The question I always get from anyone I bring here is: “Are those vehicles…real?”

Yes, they may be retired, but these are vehicles once active at sites around the world, and the dump truck is actually one of the largest in the world!


The grounds of Komatsu no Mori are covered in sakura trees (Image credit: Hui Min)


As someone who usually has no interest in machines myself, I can still say the rare chance to walk right up to a machine this big, and imagine them in action is quite overwhelming. What's more, visitors are allowed on board at certain hours a day, including the chance to sit on the driver's seat.


Hydrangeas in Komatsu no Mori in June. (Image credit: Hui Min)


Other than a history museum telling the company's legacy (with English explanations), and a goods shop with cute toy vehicles and apparel, the rest of Komatsu no Mori also serves as a nature park with seasonal sights. I especially love strolling along during sakura season in early April, or hydrangea season in June. 


By the way, if you actually are a machine geek and want to take a peek at the machines on active duty, the current headquarters is at Awazu Station (粟津駅) one stop down along the IR Ishikawa Railway Line. However, it is usually not open to the public, so you can only peek through the grilles from the outside.


Komatsu no Mori (こまつの杜)
Address: 1 Komatsunomori, Komatsu, Ishikawa 923-8666
Access: Next to Komatsu Station
Opening hours: 09:00–17:00 (Closed on Mondays & Sundays)


Komatsu is for Kabuki Cosplay

Girl’s kabuki performed at the Otabi Festival. (Image credit: Hui Min)


It just so happens that many things associated with Komatsu City start with K, but another one would be kabuki (歌舞伎) theatre, Japan’s traditional theatre form with dramatic make-up, and infamous for being hard to understand. 


But if you visit the Miyossa Gallery (こまつ曳山交流館みよっさ) just a 5-minute walk from the station, you'll learn that the kabuki tradition that Komatsu is known for can be appreciated even if you don't understand the plot: as it is performed by adorable children! 


In May, Komatsu's Otabi Festival (お旅まつり) is specifically performed only by primary school girls. If you do know a bit about kabuki, you'll realise this completely defies the usual norm, which restricts performers to men. 


The festival floats are displayed at the MIYOSSA gallery all year. (Image credit: Komatsu City)


Even if you can't visit during the festival (which is also held near the station), the Miyossa Gallery is where you can watch video clips of it, and admire two of the actual festival floats up close. These floats, extravagantly decorated with the crafts Ishikawa are known for such as gold leaf and lacquer, serve as unique stages for the little kabuki actresses. 


Kabuki make-up and costume experience at MIYOSSA (Image credit: cheeserland)


If you're feeling adventurous, do also consider trying out one of Miyossa’s cultural experiences! The most unique being the kabuki transformation, where you get to put on dramatic kabuki make-up with guidance from the staff, and don an actual kabuki costume. Don't forget to strike some kabuki poses for that hit Insta reel—Japan travel influencer @cheeserland gives a walkthrough on it here.


Other experiences include shamisen and tea-making, and are all priced affordably within ¥500. Just make sure to book at least a day in advance via email to miyossa@city.komatsu.lg.jp. 


Komatsu Hikiyama Gallery MIYOSSA (こまつ曳山交流館みよっさ)
Address: 72-3 Yokaichimachi, Komatsu, Ishikawa 923-0925
Access: 5-minute walk from Komatsu Station
Opening hours: 10:00–17:00 (Closed on Wednesdays in December–March)


Meet the passionate shopkeepers of Komatsu’s historical street

You will receive a warm welcome from the passionate shop owners of Hokkoku Toorimachi. (Image credits: cheeserland & Hui Min)

If I were to give my honest feelings on what Komatsu's biggest treasure is, I would say it's the people. The deep bonds that tie the whole community together, and the genuine passion of people, especially in sharing their local culture and heritage with visitors from all around the world. 


That's something you can experience right by the station too, at the Hokkoku Toorimachi (北國とおり町) street! Hokkoku Toorimachi is the local nickname for a historical district along a former highway that was the city's commercial centre centuries ago. 


Many of the street’s family businesses are still in operation today, helmed by the current generation of heirs. Here is an example of a walking tour, covering four shops that have been actively welcoming international tourists:


1) Choboya Chaho (長保屋茶舗): The first tea cultivators of Hokuriku 

The Choboya tea shop, and its 12th-generation owner Hasebe-san. (Image credits: Choboya Chaho)


Attention tea lovers: the very first shop to cultivate tea in not just Ishikawa, but the whole of Hokuriku, is right here in Komatsu! While Choboya Chaho (長保屋茶舗) no longer grows their own leaves due to manpower and land limitations, the 370-year-old shop still stands, run by 12th-generation Hasebe-san. 


If you’re looking for something special to get from their shop, their Kaga Bocha (加賀棒茶) tea is an Ishikawa-unique hojicha using tea stems instead of leaves.


Tea-tasting session at Choboya. (Image credit: Choboya Chaho)


You can even request for a tea-tasting session (¥1,500, 45 minutes) or experience roasting your own Kaga Bocha (¥1,100 yen, 20 minutes). Simply contact them on their Instagram account (@chooboya) with at least 2 days advance inquiry, including your desired date and group size.


Choboya Chaho (長保屋茶舗)
Address: 81-1 Ryusukecho, Komatsu, Ishikawa 923-0926
Access: 8-minute walk from Komatsu Station
Opening hours: 9:00–18:00


2) Takimoto Gozaten (滝本茣蓙店): DIY coaster at a 26th-generation tatami shop

The over 500-year-old building of Takimoto Gozaten, and 26th-generation owner Naoko-san shows us some Komatsu-grown tatami reeds. (Image credit: Hui Min)


Goza (茣蓙) are thinner and portable versions of tatami mats, and the oldest building of the street is a shop that made their business selling these mats. Fun fact: Komatsu is actually the northern-most producer of tatami reeds, known for their hardiness due to the cold winters they endure. 


Today, only one tatami reed farmer remains in Komatsu, and Takimoto Gozaten (滝本茣蓙店)’s 26th-generation owner, Naoko-san has branched out with the times to include antiques she sources from all over the world.


More importantly, since most of us are unlikely to lug home a whole mat, innovative Naoko-san has also devised her own method of weaving coasters from tatami reeds, which she shares through workshops! 


Make your own coaster with tatami reeds at Takimoto Gozaten. (Image credit: Hui Min)


Using a simple loom easy even for kids, and a colourful selection of reeds to customise your own design. Just contact her in advance to see if a workshop can be arranged, via email at gozagoza@aurora.ocn.ne.jp or Instagram (@takimotogozaten). 


Takimoto Gozaten (滝本茣蓙店)
Address: 30 Ryusukecho, Komatsu, Ishikawa 923-0926
Access: 6-minute walk from Komatsu Station
Opening hours: 10:00–18:00 (Closed on Tuedays & Wednesdays)


3) Nakade Seinikuten (中出精肉店): Komatsu Karaage and Noto Pork

The neighbourhood butcher is a family business carried over three-generations, and their famed karaage is marinated in Komatsu ingredients. (Image credit: Nakade Seinikuten)


If you're feeling snacky, drop by the neighbourhood butcher Nakade Seinikuten (中出精肉店) to try a Komatsu-special version of karaage fried chicken (available only Fri-Sun). Marinated with all-Komatsu ingredients: barley miso, sake lees, and rice flour!


But what this family business is most known for would be their charcoal-roasted chashu pork. For those keen to support earthquake-hit Noto in some small way, know that they use free-range Noto pork, and charcoal from the only charcoal producer in Suzu. 


The signature chashu uses Noto pork roasted with Noto charcoal, and can be purchased in ready-to-eat vacuum-packed slices. (Image credits: Nakade Seinikuten)


The marinate is also a family heirloom, continuously topped up since the current Nakade-san's grandfather's generation! This chashu can be bought in vacuum packed slices that can be eaten as is on your trip, or toasted if you have access to a toaster. 


Nakade Seinikuten (中出精肉店)
Address: 1 Ryusukecho, Komatsu, Ishikawa 923-0926
Access: 10-minute walk from Komatsu Station
Opening hours: 9:00–18:00 (Closed on Mondays)


4) Machiya Bunko (町屋文庫): Cafe in an old townhouse 

Machiya Bunko, a cafe housed in a machiya townhouse (Image credit: Hui Min)


However if you have time to sit down for a meal, and prefer to have said chashu grilled for you instead, then head over to cafe Machiya Bunko (町屋文庫) along the neighbouring street.


Machiya (町家) are the old townhouses that Kanazawa and Kyoto are known for, and here an over 90-year-old machiya has been given new life as a cosy recycle book cafe. More importantly, it's the perfect place to enjoy the street’s offerings in one place! 


Enjoy the Ryusuke-don featuring Nakade’s roast pork, with a cup of Choboya’s Kaga Bocha milk tea, on your coaster from Takimoto Gozaten! (Image credit: Hui Min)


That is, a rice bowl with Nakade's chashu, with a cup of Choboya’s milk tea, on your freshly-made DIY coaster! Truly a symbol of the tight connections tying this whole community together. 


Machiya Bunko’s other menu offerings. (Image credit: Hui Min)


Other menu recommendations include their homemade soba, with the add-on option of local vegetable tempura, as well as desserts like homemade cheesecake and chocolate cake, with seasonal flavours. Note that the chashu rice bowl and soba are only available on Saturdays. On other days, you can opt for a lunch plate instead with prior reservation to @machiyabunko


Check out Machiya Bunko’s homemade jams along their shelves, or at the vending machine outside! (Image credit: Hui Min)


For souvenirs, do check out their array of homemade jams using Ishikawa fruits. My personal favourite is the milk jam using Choboya’s Kaga Bocha. A small selection, alongside their cakes, is even available from a vending machine outside!


Machiya Bunko (町屋文庫)
Address: 46 Yokaichimachi, Komatsu, Ishikawa 923-0925
Access: 7-minute walk from Komatsu Station
Opening hours: 11:00–18:00 (Closed on Sundays–Tuesdays)


While you can easily do a self-guided tour of these shops, the best way to enjoy them is to have the passionate shop owners as your guides, as @cheeserland experienced here.


Although they are still working to turn this into an official tour, private arrangements may be possible if you contact Takimoto Gozaten’s owner in advance at gozagoza@aurora.ocn.ne.jp or @takimotogozaten


A more detailed account on how a tour would be like, and future updates on tour availability can also be found on Komatsu City’s official tourism page.


Inside Komatsu Station

The souvenir shop and food court inside Komatsu Station (Image credit: Hui Min)


Even if you are unable to step out of the station due to time constraints (or Ishikawa’s infamous rainy weather), there are things to do inside the station as well!


Such as grabbing a meal at the KABULET food court or checking out local specialties from around the Hokuriku region at the souvenir shop.  


The souvenir shop doubles as a tourism information centre, so do approach the staff there if you need help with navigation or sightseeing information.


Explore further with Komatsu Share Cycle

(Left) Share cycle port right outside Komatsu Station, (Right) A cycling tour I have led to the Komatsu seaside! (Image credit: Hui Min)


On the other hand, if you have time and energy to spare, do consider using Komatsu’s bike-share service to extend your explorations! All the bikes are electric-powered, so they can take you pretty far, no sweat! I highly recommend it to soak in the rural scenery, especially in sakura season.  


Information on rental methods, pricing, and model routes can be found on the city's official tourism homepage "Explore Komatsu"


That's a wrap for Komatsu Station, but do stay tuned for the second part where we’ll ride to the next stop: Kaga Onsen Station! See you~


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