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Iwate Prefecture

Iwate Prefecture in Tohoku Districtiwate PrefectureIwate Prefecture is located at northeast part of Tohoku District.
It is a nearly oval about 190 km from north to south and 120 km from east and west in width, and it is the largest prefecture in Japan except Hokkaido.
The northern area of the prefecture is called "Nanbu region", because Nanbu clan had ruled this region from the 16th century to the end of the Edo period.

Kitakami River flows through the center of prefecture from north to south, and most cities are along the river.
Morioka city, the prefectural capital, is also near this river.

There are many mountains as much as 1,000-2,000 meters high on the both sides of the area. And the eastern coast facing the Pacific Ocean has a sawtooth coastline.

Therefore, the access north and south along the river has been convenient, but the access east and west across the mountains has been very inconvenient since early times.

In winter, much snow falls in whole prefecture, and particularly the western mountain area has heavy snow.
So there are some nice ski resorts in that area.

The southern coast areas were visited by great earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
But the area is under reconstruction now.

To come into Iwate Prefecture, Shinkansen from Tokyo and domestic flight from Osaka, Nagoya and Sapporo are convenient.

By Shinkansen, it takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo to Morioka.

Iwate-Hanamaki airport is near Hanamaki city, located about 30 km south of Morioka city.
It has the flights from Itami and Kansai (Osaka), Nagoya, and Shin-Chitose (Sapporo).

A trip to Iwate : Iwate Prefecture Tourism official website




The climate in Morioka
Average value 1981-2010 JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Highest Temperature (deg C) 1.8 2.9 7.0 14.4 19.7 23.5 26.4 28.3 23.6 17.6 10.6 4.6
Lowest Temperature (deg C) -5.6 -5.2 -2.2 3.0 8.5 13.8 18.1 19.6 14.6 7.3 1.5 -2.4
Mean monthly rainfall (mm) 53 49 81 88 103 110 186 184 160 93 90 71

Tourist spots in Iwate Prefecture

Iwate map

Morioka city /1/
Koiwai Farm /2/
Fujiwara Heritage Park /3/
Chusonji temple /4/
Motsuji temple /5/
Genbikei gorge /6/
Geibikei gorge /7/
Toono city /8/
Sanriku coast /9/
Ryusendo limestone cave /10/
Hachimantai /11/

Scenic or Nature / Park or Garden / Resort / City, Town or Village / Quarter or Street /
Temple or Shrine / Museum or Laboratory / Market or Commercial facility / Factory /
Other Building or Construction / Historic place / Remains / World Heritage Site

Main events in Iwate Prefecture

Hidaka-Hibuse festivalHidaka-Hibuse Festival (April 28-29th)

It is the festival held in Mizusawa Ward in Oushu city in southern prefecture.
"Hidaka" is the name of shrine, and "Hibuse" means "fire protection".
About 300 years ago, Mizusawa suffered from massive fires three times.
So the lord of that time learned the organization for fire protection from Edo (current Tokyo), then he set up several citizen's fire companies in the city.
Since that, they preyed for no fire disaster to Hidaka shrine every year, then it has became the current festival.
Nine beautiful floats march throughout the city along to music, which is played by many musicians and singing girls on the floats.
The flamboyance is similar to Gion Festival in Kyoto.

Fujiwara Festival in springFujiwara Festival in spring (May 1-5th)

It is the festival held at Chusonji and Motsuji temples in Hiraizumi town.
Fujiwara family had ruled this region in the 11-12th centuries. They built these temples.
In this festival, the commemorations of the family are held at the temples, also local entertainment and noh are performanced.
The highlight is a parade reproducing the historical event in the 12th century. The more than 100 casts are dressed in period costume, additionally a popular actor receives the leading roll every year.
This is held in May 3rd. It starts at Chusonji in the morning, plays a drama at Motsuji in the afternoon, and returns to Chusonji at about three.

Chagu-chagu umakoChagu-chagu Umako (2nd Saturday in June)

It is a parede of horses for agriculture.
Since ancient times, horses have been important farm animals in this region, along with cattle, then the people have held this festival of gratitude for horses every year.
More than 100 horses with colorful hamess parade the distance of 15 km from Onikoshi-souzen shrine in Takizawa village to Morioka-Hachimangu shrine in Morioka city, in 4 hours.

Morioka Sansa DanceMorioka Sansa Dance Festival (August 1-4th)

It is a parade of great Bon festival dance held in the center of Morioka city.
Originally the dance had been held at many areas around Morioka city. Since 1978, they have been held together as a big event of Morioka city.
Basically the parade goes in teams. Each team has dancers, pipers and drummers, but the number of drummer is very large, so this is called "the greatest drum parade in Japan".
Visitors can also dance without prior application.

Local foods and products in Iwate Prefecture

Aomori appleWanko-soba

It is the famous soba noodle in Morioka and Hanamaki cities. "Soba" is a major buckwheat noodle in Japan, but Wanko-soba is very unique in serving soba noodle.
First you hold an empty bowl. Then a waitress behind you puts a mouthful cooked cold soba noodle into your bowl quickly with a brisk call.
You eat (swallow) it immidiately. As soon as your bowl is emply, the waitress puts next soba noodle into it. This is repeated endlessly.
It is said that about 15 bowls are equal to a normal bowl of soba noodle. Adult males eat an average of 60 bowls, but the previous record set in 1997 was 559 bowls.
When you give up your challenge of this competitive eating, you must put a lid on your bowl. Even if you say "stop !", the waitress continues to put noodles during your bowl is without a lid.

Morioka reimenReimen

Reimen is a Korean cold noodle with soup. It started when a Japanese cook born in northern Korea served in 1954 at Morioka.
Of course, he made an effort to suit Japanese taste.
The noodle is white, and springy like rubber. The soup is made from beef bones. And kimchi (Korean pickles) is topped.
Since the 1990s, it has become popular in Japan, and now Morioka is the best place of reimen.

JajamenJajamen

Jajamen is also one of popular noodle in Morioka.
It started when a Japanese cook, who returned from Manchuria (current northeastern China) after World War II, served in Morioka.
He had eaten Chinese noodle "Zhajiang mian" in Manchuria, and made this to suit Japanese taste.
On the boiled thin udon (Japanese white noodle), miso mixed fried ground meat and chopped cucumber are topped.
Depending on individual taste, add a little vinegar, hot sesame oil, grated garlic or ginger.
After eating, you can order the soup made by adding broken egg and the miso into your used dish.

Nanbu-senbeiNanbu-senbei

It is a traditional senbei (Japanese cracker) made in Nanbu region.
After mixing wheat flour with water, it is made by baking hard in a round mold. It usually has a part running off the edge.
It taste plain with a very little salty and is crisp.
The popular senbeis are mixed with black sesame or peanuts.
And there is a unique soup that this senbei is used as one of cooking ingredients.

Nanbu ironwareNanbu ironware

In Nanbu region, the materials of iron making had yielded from old times.
Then since the 17th century, various ironware has been produced.
Especially tea ceremony became popular, then good kettles to boil water were made in this region.
As the product for daily use, nice normal kettles were made.
Today Nanbu ironware is famous as one of Japanese traditional craft products.


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