There are so many attractions in Iwate such as delicious local food, beautiful sightseeing sights, onsen, and nature. In this article, I will introduce some of the best attractions of Iwate.

About Iwate Prefecture

Iwate prefecture is in the northern part of Tohoku region faced to the Pacific Ocean. Except the coast and the basin, Iwate has lots of mountains and hills filled with natural beauty. They also have their unique culture and history called “Hiraizumi Culture”.

Local food of Iwate

The Three Great Noodles of Morioka

Morioka city in Iwate is called “noodle city” and they have 3 kinds of noodle dishes as their local food; “Wanko Soba”, “Morioka Reimen” and “Morioka Jajamen”. If you are a noodle lover, can’t leave Iwate without trying all three!

Wanko Soba

Have you heard of “Wanko Soba”? The servers keep serving you bite-sized cups of noodles until you close the lid of your cup. This is a famous all-you-can-eat noodle known all over Japan as a local food of Iwate.  

Stack of cups! Wanko Soba

The stack of cups! Wanko Soba. From Instagram

 

Challenge how many cups you can eat! If you eat over 100 cups, you can get a present to prove that you’ve eaten 100 cups. Once there was a person who ate 500 (!) cups at Azumaya, a Wanko Soba restaurant in Morioka.

The present for over 100 cups was a little charm.

The present for over 100 cups was a little charm.

Morioka Reimen

Morioka Reimen is a cold noodle originally imported from Korea. As the origin, someone brought back Reimen from a Korean restaurant in Tokyo in 1950’s. From then, it became established in Morioka and now loved by locals as it is included to “The Three Great Noodles of Morioka”.

Morioka Reimen

Morioka Reimen. From Instagram

 

Morioka Jajamen

It is said that Jajamen started selling at a food stroll in Morioka city when it was brought from Manchuria after the World War II. The noodles of Jajamen are similar to udon. The udon-like noodles are served with special meat-miso sauce, cucumber, and green onion. You can also add grated ginger, garlic, vinegar, and/or hot pepper oil. Mix all the ingredients well before you eat.

After eating the noodles, you can enjoy “Chi-Tan-Tan”, a soup with the meat-miso sauce, the hot water in which the noodles were boiled, and beaten egg made in the bowl you have just finished.

Morioka Jajamen

Morioka Jajamen

Chi-Tan-Tan

Chi-Tan-Tan

 

Traditional local cuisine

There are actually lots of local cuisines but most famous dishes are “Hitssumi”, “Natto Jiru” and soba. You can enjoy the traditional taste that had not changed for a long time.

Hitssumi Jiru is a soup flavored with dashi and soy sauce, with “Hittsumi” put in as the main ingredients. Hittsumi is a dumpling made from flour, casually cut into portions by hand and put into the pot, together with some vegetables such as carrots and burdocks. Hittsumi really warms you up on a freezing day.

Hitssumi Jiru

Hitssumi Jiru

Maezawa Beef (Wagyu)

Maezawa Beef is a famous kind of wagyu beef breed in Maezawa area of Iwate. This soft and high-quality beef melt on your tongue.

Maezawa Beef

Maezawa Beef

Sake

Tohoku is famous for producing sake and there are so many breweries with famous labels. Some of the famous sake from Iwate are “Asakai” or “Nanbu-Bijin”.

Nanbu-Bijin’s sake bottle

Nanbu-Bijin’s sake bottle. From Instagram

 

Sightseeing attractions of Iwate

Morioka Castle Site Park

Morioka Castle used to be a the residence of the lord Nanbu family. There are Morioka History and Culture Museum and rose garden in the park. The park is also famous for a sight to see beautiful sakura cherry blossoms and red colored leaves.

Morioka Castle Site Park

Morioka Castle Site Park

Chuson-ji Temple, Motsu-ji Temple, and Takkokunoiwaya in Hiraizumi

Chuson-ji Temple and Motsu-ji Temple are both registered as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Golden Pavilion in Chuson-ji Temple with lots of Heian period art pieces is a must-see. The Japanese garden in Motsu-ji Temple is definitely one of the best gardens in Japan.

Chuson-ji Temple

Chuson-ji Temple

Address:
Koromonoseki-202 Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-chō, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate prefecture

Hours:
Summer (March 1st to November 3rd) 8:30 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
Winter (November 4th to end of February) 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m.

Fees:
Adult 800yen, only Golden Pavilion and Sankozo Museum need fees.

Website:
http://www.chusonji.or.jp/en/

Motsu-ji Temple

Motsu-ji Temple. From Flickr

 

Address:
Osawa-58 Hiraizumi Hiraizumi-cho, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate-ken

Hours:
8:30 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
November 5th toApril 4th 8:30 a.m. 4:30 p.m.

Fees:
Adult 500 yen, ticket includes entry to the Treasure House

Website:
http://www.motsuji.or.jp/english/index.php

I personally recommend Takkokunoiwaya. You can feel the different atmosphere from other temples and it really moved my heart.

Takkokunoiwaya

Takkokunoiwaya

 

Address:
16 Kitazawa, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi Town, Nishi Iwai-gun, Iwate

Hours:
April 8:00-17:30, May to August 8:00-18:00, September to November 8:00-17:00, December to January 8:00-16:30, February to March 8:00-17:00
Closed on Mondays  (Tuesday, if Monday is a holiday ) ; the day after a holiday; end-of-year to New Year’s holidays

Fees:
adults 300 yen; high school students 200 yen; elementary and junior high school students 100 yen Group admission (30 or more) : 10 % off

Website:
http://www.iwayabetto.com/mysite1/top.html

Tono Furusato Village

This is a facility where a traditional farming village has been reconstructed. It arouses a sense of nostalgia of a Japanese mind to locals and offers a novel experience for visitors from outside of Japan. There are many activities you can try such as making soba or drawing a face to kokeshi. 7 days ahead reservations are required to do the activities.

Tono Furusato Village

Tono Furusato Village. From Instagram

Address:
5-89-1 Kamitsukimoushi, Tsukimoushi-cho

Hours:
9:00-17:00  ( admission by 16:00 )  Open every day

Fees:
adults 520 yen; elementary to high school students 310 yen Group admission  ( 20 or more ) : 50 yen off

Website:
http://www.tono-furusato.jp/
(in Japanese)
http://www.japan-iwate.info/app/location_detail.php?lid=68
(in English)

Morioka Handi-Works Square

This is a facility to look, feel, and create handcrafts and food of Morioka. The Workshop Area is very popular, you can see craftsmen creating the products and participate in activities to create one for your own! Over 3,500 handmade products are able to be purchased as well. In the Exhibition area, you can look around Nanbu style house built 200 years ago, and traditional handicrafts. Highly recommended for those of you with kids.

An activity at Morioka Handi-Works Square

An activity at Morioka Handi-Works Square. From Twitter

 

Address:
64-102 Oirino, Tsunagi, Morioka City

Hours:
8:40-17:00
Closed on New Year’s holidays

Fees:
Free except Exhibition Room: elementary school students and up 100 yen; groups  (20 or more)  80 yen

Website:
http://tezukurimura.com/main/
(in Japanese)
http://www.japan-iwate.info/app/location_detail.php?lid=70
(in English)

Natural Beauty of Iwate

Geibikei Gorge and Genbikei in Hiraizumi

Geibikei and Genbikei are the must-visit sights together with Chuson-ji Temple. (They are all located close to each other)

Geibikei is a valley with uniquely shaped rocks. It is famous for its 90-minute round-trip boat ride. It is very quiet and the view was awesome!

 Geibikei Gorge

Geibikei Gorge

Address:
Nagasaka Azamachi, Higashiyama-cho, Ichinoseki

Hours:
April through August: 8:30-16:30, September through October: 8:30-16:00, November through March: 9:00-15:00, Open every day

Geibikei Boat Ride Fees:
adults 1,500 yen; high school students 1,200 yen
junior high school students 1,000 yen
elementary school students 800 yen
kindergarten or under 100 yen
Group discount: 10 % off for groups of 15 or more; 20 % off for groups of 100 or more

Website:
http://www.geibikei.co.jp/
(in Japanese)
http://www.japan-iwate.info/app/location_detail.php?lid=119
(in English)

On the other hand, Genbikei Gorge is a river gorge  designated a Place of Scenic Beauty and Natural Monument. The stunning scenery 2 km long is definitely a must-see.

Genbikei Gorge

Genbikei Gorge. From Flickr

Address:
Genbicho Minami Takinoue 15, Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture

Fees:
Free

Website:
http://genbi.ftw.jp/u10131.html
(in Japanese)

Mount Iwate

Mount Iwate is the biggest mountain in Iwate. As it is listed as one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains, the mountain is so beautiful from sunrise to sunset.

Mount Iwate

Mount Iwate

Hanazawa Onsen

Hanazawa Onsen is a traditional onsen district in Hanamaki city. There is also some one-day onsen that you can stop by. How about dipping into onsen and feel a natural beauty and freshen up.

The entrance of one-day onsen in Hanazawa Onsen

The entrance of one-day onsen in Hanazawa Onsen. Instagram

For more Information

4 Temples Pilgrimage “Shiji Kairo” in Tohoku: Iwate, Yamagata & Miyagi