The year was 1949. The place? A bit north of the current-day ILC candidate site of Kitakami, in Aomori Prefecture’s Tohoku Town. People suddenly found a large boulder, engraved with the Japanese characters meaning “center of Japan” (lit. “日本中央”). Why would the “center of Japan” be in a place like Aomori, literally one of the most northern places on the main island of Honshu? The peninsula of Japan was absolutely shocked at this discovery of the century (…jk, lol).

That boulder is still being displayed today, so I decided to go see it for myself at the end of 2023.


Visiting the Center of Japan Monument Museum

I rode the Tohoku Shinkansen up to Shichinohe-Towada Station and drove for around 15 minutes to reach the Center of Japan Monument Museum, nestled in mountains covered with snow.

There’s a whole park surrounding this monument, but as we’re in the midst of winter, it’s way too cold. I decided to quickly head on inside.

There was a young woman at the front reception desk. Admission was free. She turned on the light and I headed on into the back room.

The Monument Museum lies quietly within the stark landscape, with a solemn atmosphere


Here we are – the Center of Japan Monument!

  Standing in the middle of the room is the large boulder. This is the Center of Japan Monument. Reading the panels around the room, it says that they had known of the boulder’s existence for a long time, and yet, when the Emperor of Japan visited in 1876, they looked for the boulder and could not find it.

… Uh, so when were these characters inscribed in the boulder? There was no official date written, but it seems to have been done in the beginning of the 9th century.

You can see it, right? “Center of Japan” is inscribed on the stone→


So that’s why the “Center of Japan” is in TOHOKU
  I learned of a shocking truth on my way out when I thanked the lady at the front desk:

“Thank you. So this is the famous Center of Japan monument.” But when I said “Center of Japan” in Japanese, I said it “Nippon Chuo,” which is the normal way to read these characters.

The receptionist responded:

“Oh, we pronounce Center of Japan as “HINOMOTO MANAKA.””

Wow. What a shock. I have no idea how to convey this in English, but in olden times, the Tohoku region was called Hinomoto, which is an archaic way of reading the characters of Japan (日本). It literally means “origin of the sun”. And in that time, the center (中央-manaka(It’s pronounced mannaka in modern times)) was here in Aomori, is what the boulder is trying to say.

…There are tons of these mysterious and mystical places near the Kitakami site. I’ll share some more with you next time.

Tohoku Town Homepage

Trip Advisor Page for the Monument



時は1949年。場所は北上サイトの少し北、青森県東北町。突如発見されたのは、「日本中央」と彫られた巨石でした。なぜCENTRAL JAPANが青森に?世紀の大発見に、日本列島が湧きました(冗談です)。

 東北新幹線 七戸十和田駅を降りたら、レンタカーを借りて、車を走らせること15分。雪深い山間に、「日本中央の碑保存館」はある。


That`s why,日本中央 is in TOHOKU
(日本中央,I said NIPPON CHUO,means Central JAPAN)
(No,日本中央、We pronounce HINOMOTO MANAKA)