May 30, 2015


Iwate(岩手)is a large prefecture in the Tohoku(東北)region, located between Aomori(青森)and Miyagi(宮城).

Went there during my Golden Week Tohoku trip in 2013. Visited the Hiraizumi(平泉)area, Tohoku's former cultural and political capital.

One notable attraction there is Moutsuji(毛越寺)near the station. It is known for its garden, 1 of the few pure land gardens in Japan. Liked the reflection of the trees and sakura in the waters. The place was simple and tranquil, enjoyed walking around the premise.

Next, took the loop bus to the most famous attraction in Hiraizumi-- Chusonji(中尊寺). It was built in 850, as a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism. The premise is very big, with many historical buildings, temples and shrines in a forest. Among them, the most significant is Konjikido(金色堂), with the hall covered in gold completely, just like Kyoto's Kinkakuji(金閣寺). (Phototaking is not allowed.)

Had Wanko Soba at a restaurant in Hiraizumi. The soba is divided into many small servings, looks intimidating but actually not so bad. It is the specialty of Morioka(盛岡), capital city of Iwate prefecture. Due to the lack of major attractions, Morioka was only a transit stop during the trip, for taking highway bus to Aomori.

We also went to Kitakami(北上), famous for Tenshochi Park(展勝地). It is 1 of 3 best sakura spots in Tohoku region. When I visited, the flowers were near 70% bloom then, considered slow for that year. Didn't spend much time there as it was too crowded, with mostly visitors who came via bus tours.

Walked to Michinoku Folklore Village just across the street, an open air museum displaying many old houses in Tohoku region. Few people were there, and had full bloom sakura all to ourselves!

For lodging, highly recommend Zuisenkaku Ryokan(瑞泉閣)that I stayed in. Service, onsen, room was all good, though the best was the food. Not fanciful, but definitely one of the best in terms of taste for Ryokans I have stayed before. As I had booked really early, it was only 10000 yen per night per pax even though it was Golden Week!

And one of my favorite Iwate brands is Koiwai(小岩井農場), famous for its dairy products. Love their cookies! Make great souvenirs from Iwate~

Other attractions in this big prefecture include the Hachimantai(八幡平)region with rustic hot springs, and also the Sanriku Coast(三陸)region with lots of fresh seafood.


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