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Japan Regional Information

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Akita     Aomori     Fukushima     Iwate     Miyagi     Yamagata

 

Iwate

Long stretch of coastline where abundant marine products are unloaded - Ou Mountains left with primeval forest
Iwate Prefecture, which boasts the largest land area among Japanese prefectures, is situated in the northeastern part of the Japanese main island, and its eastern side faces the Pacific Ocean. North of the coastline are cliffs eroded by the sea, and beach dunes. The contrast between the long stretch of dynamic cliffs and calm Jodo-ga-hama beach at Kitayama-saki Point is magnificent. On the south is a saw-toothed coast with many inlets, revealing various contrastive scenery from the north to the south.

The long coastline blessed with natural good ports makes fishing ports at which abundant marine products are unloaded throughout the year, and there are quite a number of restaurants in the vicinity where you can enjoy fresh seafood such as scallops, oysters and sea urchins. There are primeval forests on Mt. Iwate-san and the Appi Plateau that stretches from the Hachimantai Plateau, all of which together make up the Ou Mountain Range that runs along the border of Iwate and Akita Prefectures, and you can enjoy various outdoor activities such as skiing, as well as onsen, the hot springs.

You can also come to feel the Japanese rural culture and history at places like Hanamaki, which has the only airport in the prefecture and is known as a hot spring resort, the prefecture capital Morioka which developed as a castle town, and Hiraizumi which has many national treasures, important cultural properties and historical ruins such as Chuson-ji Konjikido (Chuson-ji Temple, Golden Hall).

Getting there
Two hours 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Morioka Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line. Five hours from Shin Osaka Station via Tokyo Station (by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line) to Morioka Station (by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line). An hour 20 minutes from Osaka Itami Airport to Hanamaki Airport.
 

  • Hachimantai Plateau
    Alpine plants and the emerald green Hachiman-numa Marsh - A scenic hot spring with views of magnificent Mt. Iwate-san
    Hachimantai is a plateau-like volcanic terrace, 1,400-1,600 meters above sea level, extending over Iwate Prefecture and Akita Prefecture in the west, and part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. A swamp near the top of Hachimantai is a treasure trove of over 160 kinds of alpine and swamp plants, and visitors can enjoy mizubasho (Japanese skunk cabbage) and nikko-kisuge (yellow alpine lilies) in full bloom from spring through autumn. The beech forest also contains the radiant emerald green Hachiman-numa Marsh as well as Gama-numa Marsh and Kagami-numa Marsh.

    Hachimantai-onsen Hot Spring is a scenic hot spring with views of the Ou Mountain Range, which runs across the Akita Prefecture border, and the magnificent Mt. Iwate-san. Nearby are the Gozaisho-en Garden, filled with the flowers of alpine plants, and Goshiki (five-color)-numa Marsh, where the water changes color according to the sunlight. Together they offer an ideal route for walking. Visitors can also enjoy skiing at Hachimantai Ski Resort in winter which operates up to May.

    Spectacular views of Hachimantai, such as marshes in the forest and the virgin forest of Aomori white fir, can be enjoyed from the windows of the buses that travel along the Asupite-Line Road connecting the Hachimantai-onsen Hot Spring and the Toroko-onsen Hot Spring in Akita Prefecture, and crossing Hachimantai.

    Getting there
    Two hours 30 minutes to Morioka Station from Tokyo Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, and 5 hours from Shin-Osaka Station with a change at Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido and Tohoku Shinkansen Line, then around 1 hour 50 minutes by bus to the top of Hachimantai from Morioka Station.

     

  • Hanamaki
    Hanamaki-onsen-go Village - well-known in Tohoku for its prominent accommodation facilities, and the setting for many famous Japanese fables
    Hanamaki City, located in the center of the Kitakami Basin in the mid-western part of Iwate Prefecture, is a city of parks centered on hot spring zones dotted along the Dai-gawa River, a tributary of the Kitakami-gawa River, and the valley of Yunosawa.

    Around a dozen hot springs, beginning with the Hanamaki-onsen Hot Spring and including Dai, Shidodaira, Osawa, and Namari, are known collectively as the Hanamaki-onsen-go Village which has many different types of accommodation and is a favorite spot for tourists in the Tohoku region (the northeastern region). In the village are Hanamaki Airport, providing the only air access to Iwate Prefecture, and Shin-Hanamaki Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line. Together they form the gateway to Iwate Prefecture.

    Hanamaki is also known as the home of fable writer Kenji Miyazawa, who was born here at the beginning of the 20th century. Kenji's large number of poems and fables are enjoyed by many readers even today for the fresh use of language, unrestrained imagination, and deep social insight. In Hanamaki, there are many places that appear in Miyazawa's fables, including his parents' house, the Miyazawa Kenji Memorial Museum, Kenji Miyazawa Dowa Mura (the village of fables), Poran-no-hiroba Square, and the IHATOV Center. These places attract visitors all year round.

    Getting there
    Three hours 15 minutes to Shin-Hanamaki Station from Tokyo Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, and 5 hours 45 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station with a change at Tokyo Station by the JR Tokaido and Tohoku Shinkansen Line.

     

  • Hiraizumi
    Over 3,000 national treasures, important cultural properties and historical sites - A historical town where the culture of the 11th century has been preserved.
    Hiraizumi in the southwestern part of Iwate Prefecture is a town extending up the Hiraizumi Hill on the west bank of the Kitakami-gawa River, that prospered for almost 100 years from the 11th to12th centuries as the center of the Tohoku region (the northeastern region). Over 3,000 national treasures and historical sites still remain, telling of the Fujiwara Clan that reigned over the area in the zenith of its prosperity. The splendid culture that appeared during the reign of the Fujiwaras lasted for three generations and has been preserved in the area to this day.

    The Konjiki-do of Chuson-ji Temple, built by the Fujiwaras, is decorated inside and out with lacquer containing gold foil and studded with gold and silver, a symbol of the gold culture of Hiraizumi. The historical artifacts and Buddhist statues found in the Konjiki-do are stored in the Sanko-zo storehouse and displayed to the public, reminding all who see them of the very high level of artistic achievement in these earlier times.

    The Motsu-ji Temple adjacent to the Chuson-ji Temple was built in the 9th century, but destroyed repeatedly by fire. The restored temple and garden around the Oizumi-ike Pond are reminiscent of what the temple and its environs would have looked like in those days.

    Many historical sites and buildings still remain around Hiraizumi, including the site of the Muryoko-in Temple, modeled after Byodo-in Temple in Uji, Kyoto, and the Takadachi-gikei-do Temple, which houses a wooden statue of the tragic samurai warrior Minamoto-no Yoshitsune.

    Getting there
    Two hours 10 minutes to Ichino-seki Station from Tokyo Station by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line, and 4 hours 40 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station with a change at Tokyo Station, by the Tokaido and Tohoku Shinkansen Line. Ten minutes to Hiraizumi Station from Ichino-seki Station by the JR Tohoku Honsen Line.

     

  • Morioka
    A town where historic and new buildings blend perfectly. - The beauty of Mt. Iwate-san, Kitakami-gawa River and Nakatsu-gawa River
    Morioka is situated in the north of the Kitakami Basin in the central part of Iwate. The city is the center of Iwate's politics, economics and culture. Mt. Iwate-san, which overlooks the city from the northwest and two rivers - the Kitakami-gawa River and the Nakatsu-gawa River, make Morioka a special place with a very beautiful landscape. Morioka flourished with the building of Morioka Castle during the 16th and the 17th centuries. Today the castle ruins are maintained as the Iwate Park and are appreciated by people as a place for recreation and relaxation.

    Along the eastern side of the Nakatsu-gawa River, historical buildings from the 19th and the early 20th centuries, such as merchants' houses and private houses, can be seen. The gentle atmosphere and the nostalgic appearance of this area, which is known as "the capital of forest and water," are a good contrast to the busy atmosphere and the modern appearance of the fashionable shopping area near Morioka Station.

    Iwa-yama Park is located to the east of the town and provides a magnificent panoramic view of the whole of Morioka and Mt. Iwate-san. Mt. Himekami and the Ou Mountain Range can also be seen from here. The Morioka Hashimoto Museum of Art on the mountainside is proud of its collection of paintings by French realists from the 18th and the 19th centuries including Millet. One of Morioka's unique events is Chagu-Chagu Umakko, which is held just before summer arrives. During the event, decorative working horses carry small children on their backs and parade along a 15-kilometer route. This event attracts many spectators every year.

    Getting there
    About 2 hours and 30 minutes by JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station to Morioka Station. About 5 hours by JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line from Shin-Osaka Station, change for JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line at Tokyo Station.

     

  • Rikuchu-kaigan Coast
    Rikuchu-kaigan Coast, dynamic northern area, moderate central area and southern area with saw-toothed coast
    The Rikuchu-kaigan Coast in the east of Iwate is a shoreline with a variety of scenic beauty along the Pacific Ocean between Kuji and Kesen'numa in Miyagi, and is a part of the Rikuchu-Kaigan National Park. The northern part exhibits spectacular views of keen-cut cliffs and a row of oddly shaped rocks. It is characterized by the dynamic Kitayama-saki Point with sheer cliffs that rise steeply from the surf, Unosu Cliff where columns of 200-meter tall precipices layer one another.

    The center of the coastline offers moderate scenery with many picturesque beauties. Jodo-ga-hama Beach gives a beautiful contrast between long, white beaches and precipitous oddly shaped rocks as well as verdant pine trees. On Nami-ita-kaigan Beach, rough grains of sand absorb incoming waves and outgoing waves vanish. Miyako, your starting point to tour through the scenic beauties of the coastline, is a port town known for its abundant hauls of seafood, and there are numerous eating houses where you can enjoy fresh shrimp, sea urchins, crabs, and other delicacies of the sea.

    The southern coastline is an irregular saw-toothed coast. It has Goishi-kaigan Beach with a row of oddly shaped rocks and grottos, Takada-Matsubara with white sand beaches, Hanzo with entangled rows of marble rocks carved into unique shapes by sea erosion, and Ogama with a keen rock pillar, that stretches from them, and many other scenic spots. Rikuzen-Takada and Ofunato are also famous fishing ports where you can enjoy fresh seafood.

    Getting there
    Take JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Morioka Station, transfer to a Rapid Train of the JR Yamada Line for 2 hours from Morioka Station to Miyako Station, transfer to the Sanriku Tetsudo Kita-Rias Line for 18 minutes to Taro Station or 1 hour 41 minutes to Kuji Station.

     

  • Ryusen-do Cave
    Japan's representative limestone cave - The mysterious beauty of underground lakes
    Ryusen-do Cave, which can be found in the foothills of Mt. Urera-san at the east of Iwate, is one of the three largest limestone caves in Japan and is listed as a natural monument. The precise length of the cave is not known as nobody has explored its full length - 2500 meters of it has been explored to date. It was confirmed sometime ago that there are many tributary caves inside Ryusen-do Cave, two of which are named Komori-ana (Bats Cave) and Kameiwa-shido (Tortoise Rock Cave). As the name Komori-ana suggests, there are five different species of bats living in Ryusen-do Cave and each species is listed as a natural monument.

    Inside the cave, there are a few underground lakes that are filled with spring water which flows into the lakes from the very deep back of the cave. The first three lakes are open to the public, which are approximately 700 meters from the entrance of the cave. The clarity of these lakes is internationally recognized, especially the third lake, the depth of which is 98 meters. It glows emerald green in an artificial light fascinating your eyes with its mysterious beauty.

    Getting there
    Two hours 30 minutes by JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station to Morioka Station. Two hours 30 minutes by bus from Morioka Station to Ryusen-do-mae bus stop.

     

  • Tono
    Surrounded by three mountains - Fascinating folk tales and the imaginary creature, Kappa
    Tono is a garden city laid in a basin that is surrounded by the Kitakami Range in the central part of Iwate. The three notable mountains of the Kitakami Range are Mt. Hayachine-san, Mt. Rokkoushi-yama and Mt. Ishigami-san. Together they are called Tono's Three Mountains. The center of Tono is situated near the upper reaches of the Sarugaishi-gawa River, which is a tributary of the Kitakami-gawa River, at the western end of the Tono Basin. Tono has been well-known for horse breeding for many centuries and has prospered as a trading point between the inland and the coast.

    Tono is the land of old folk tales. There are a number of folk tales in Tono that have been told from generation to generation. The most loved tale of the locals is that of the Kappa, an imaginary, peculiar looking creature with a mischievous character that lives in water and has a dish on its head. You will see statues of Kappa all over the town including the one in front of Tono Station and another in the pond of the square near the railway station. Tono's old folk tales, including Kappa stories and old customs, are introduced at Tono Mukashi-banashi Mura (Old Tales Village) and the Tono City Museum.

    The most exciting event of Tono is the Tono-matsuri Festival, which is held in early autumn every year. During the festival, local performing arts such as Kagura (Japanese ancient sacred music) and the Rice Planting Dance are performed. Yabusame (Japanese horseback archery) is also a very popular performance that attracts large crowds of people every year.

    Getting there
    Three hours 15 minutes by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line from Tokyo Station to Shin-Hanamaki Station. Forty-five minutes by the JR Kamaishi Line Express Train from Shin-Hanamaki Station to Tono Station.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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