Located in the northeast of the Tohoku region of Japan’s main island of Honshu, Iwate is the perfect destination for those looking to experience a part of Japan that goes beyond Tokyo and Kyoto – a taste of what some affectionately call the real deep Japan. The many small towns and cities of Iwate have a deep historical route stemming back far into Japanese antiquity, and the World Heritage sites in Hiraizumi would be a great starting point for exploring Iwate’s rich heritage and natural beauty.
The coastal areas of Iwate took heavy damage during the 3.11 Tsunami and even after many years, cities are still being rebuilding in the areas that were worst hit. But, there is a sign of hope with the reopening of markets with fresh seafood and the reconstruction of the Sanriku Fukko National Park, formerly the Rikuchu Kaigan National Park with a beautiful super long Michinoku Coastal Trail for an ideal hiking along the coast.
Some views expected see on the trail
Iwate has a serene and relaxed atmosphere, owing in part to the fact that it has the lowest population density of all the prefectures outside of Hokkaido. And yet, it is still full of places to explore that will entice any demographic. These two great Buddhist temples, Hiraizumi – Chuson-ji temple and Motsu-ji temple are some that must not be missed on the trip. And fun filled Fujiwara no Sato, a theme park in Esashi Ward which are designed to look just like an old Heian period city are some places to consider putting in the itinerary. Although visiting in the winter where there is a heavy snow fall might be hard to walk around but to get to see the snow-covered temples are a magical experience that you’ll never forget.
The Morioka Castle ruins are also well worth a visit, as it is the whole of Morioka city, which happens to be the capital city of the Iwate prefecture. Or, if the city vibe doesn’t cut it for you and you’re seeking a more organic adventure, Geibikei Gorge provides the perfect getaway in the nature. This gorge is one of the hundred most beautiful scenic spots in Japan and has been designated as one of Japan’s National Scenic Spots. The gorge is a great place to visit any time of the year but the best way to enjoy would be through boating. Even during wintertime, boating is available with a chance to ride the “Kotatsu Boat” (heating table covered with a blanket) which is accompanied with delicious hot pot meal.