The 10 Best Things to Do in Iwate Prefecture, Japan

September 28, 2017 Viva Honore

Iwate Prefecture (岩手県, Iwate-ken) is a prefecture in the Tōhoku region of Japan. Located on the main island of Honshu, it contains the island's easternmost point. The capital is Morioka. Iwate has the lowest population density of any prefecture outside Hokkaido. Famous attractions include the Buddhist temples of Hiraizumi, including Chūson-ji and Mōtsū-ji with their treasures, Fujiwara no Sato, a movie lot and theme park in Esashi Ward, Oshu City, Tenshochi, a park in Kitakami City known for its big, old cherry trees and Morioka Castle in Morioka City.

1. Chuson-ji TempleJapan National Tourism OrganizationTemples/ Shrines in Iwate

202 Koromonoseki, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-cho, Nishiiwai-gun 029-4102, Iwate Prefecture +81 191-46-2211
Excellent
47%
Good
42%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 621 reviews

Chuson-ji TempleJapan National Tourism OrganizationTemples/ Shrines in Iwate

Reviewed By Chuang004 - Los Angeles, California

Chusonji(中尊寺 ) was a temple complex conprising many halls and buildings including the Main Hall (Hondo本堂) and the famous Golden Hall (Konijido 金色堂). The temple was said to exist in the year of 850, but more likely was built in 1095. Whatever, there’s at least a 900 years’ history. Chusonji Temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The literatures kept in there were claimed national treasures. The golden statues inside Golden Hall were truly magnificent!

2. Jodogahama Beach

Hitachihamacho, Miyako 027-0001, Iwate Prefecture +81 193-63-1327
Excellent
47%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 181 reviews

Jodogahama Beach

Reviewed By DanL917 - Tokyo, Japan

I suppose visitors to Tono Valley would have to venture out to the coast to take in this attraction, maybe that's why. But this beach features crystal clear water with a pebble bottom, and it's main claim to fame is a row of jagged rocky outcroppings that form a distinctive profile. I visited the place in 2002 or so.
There is a gift shop/restaurant complex next to the beach. I remember feasting on a kind of shellfish endemic to the area; it looks like the tan brown snail that cannibalizes African snails. It has a meaty foot and I ate it grilled in teriyaki sauce on a stick - quite delicious.
This attraction is mainly feasible if you are doing a rental car trip along the coast. Miyako is a bit south and is a small town famous for uni.
I cannot read Kanji so I don't know what the recent posts say. Either the beach is so far north it was spared the tsunami or some of the rocky outcroppings may have been damaged by the tsunami. I hope to return to the eastern coastline someday to compare to how I remember it.

3. Ryusendo Limestone Cave

1-1 Iwaizumi Kaminari, Iwaizumi-cho, Shimohei-gun 027-0501, Iwate Prefecture +81 194-22-2566
Excellent
48%
Good
42%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 164 reviews

Ryusendo Limestone Cave

Reviewed By Banda-in-Japan - Tokyo, Japan

This cave, regarded as one of the 3 largest limestone caves in Japan was quite a surprise. Like many caves, a river pours out at the mouth of the cave. The surprise is that unlike many limestone caves there is no central chamber. Rather the cave is a series of 'corridors', for the most part following the flow of the water upstream. In some places the passage is quite narrow but very high and in others it is wider and stalactites, stalagmites and other formations can be seen. At one of the highest points (you are effectively wandering around inside a mountain), there is a very deep lake. Well-placed lights add to the mystique.
As we were there just days after a typhoon had passed through, the entire cave was dripping, too. In most places the cave floor is natural, and therefore uneven. In some areas there is decking and to move from the lake area to the next part of the cave it is necessary to climb and descend a series of metal staircases. Not too strenuous and all part of the adventure.
Outside the cave, take a little time to wander down the gorge. Across the road from the cave is a second cave set up as an exhibit on the geology of the area. Your cave entrance ticket gets you in here, too.

4. Appi Kogen

Appikogen, Hachimantai 028-7306, Iwate Prefecture +81 195-73-5111
Excellent
44%
Good
44%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 159 reviews

Appi Kogen

Reviewed By melscottmax - Boston, Massachusetts

Appi is a "bubble era" resort, which means it was purpose built for skiing and is not centred around a traditional village. A huge hotel complex sits at the base, with modern facilities. Lifts are a mixed bag of older style open chairs, covered chairs and gondolas. Lifts are long, as are the runs. The topography ( a volcano) means that the lower slopes are gentle ( very long run outs), and the upper slopes much steeper. Prospective skiers should study the trail map carefully - the lifts on the " second" area and "sailors" area all lead to runs that are black or red. Only the main gondola in the "centre" area offers a green run all the way from the top to the bottom. Beginners will therefore be spending much of their time on the lower half of the centre area of the resort, riding the chairlifts.
We were fortunate to get plenty of fresh snow and enjoyed great conditions. Like most Japanese resorts, it is very quiet during the week, and much busier on the weekend. We were a bit disappointed with the on mountain eating options, especially during the week, when nothing is open in the second and sailors areas.
We hired snow shoes and enjoyed the marked trail, which included a fun "butt sledding" experience.
We were also pleased with the number of runs left ungroomed, and runs with wide side lines left ungroomed.

5. Gembi Valley

Iwai-gawa, Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture
Excellent
28%
Good
52%
Satisfactory
19%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 171 reviews

Gembi Valley

Reviewed By Ted C - La Mesa, California

Genbei-kei George is a small gorge, that being said one should remember that most natural features in Japan are not on the scale of those in Canada or America. None-the-less it has a certain charm and is worth the time if you are in Ichinoseki. In our case we took a taxi out from the city to Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamondou Temple which is incorporated into the side of a cliff. It reminded me of some pictures I have seen of similarily situated temples in China. We asked the taxi driver to wait while we toured the temple grounds which took about 30 minutes
Then we asked him to take us on over to Genbi-kei Gorge. We spent about an hour walking and looking at the rushing water. Since this was mid-April the Cherry trees were in full bloom which made the place quite attractive. One of the novel things is that from the south side of the george, just to the west of the main bridge you can order dango by putting 400 yen into a basket which the shop keeper reels back across the river returning it with three dango (rice dumplings on a stick) and a couple of cups of tea. Not the best dango I have ever had but it is rather a neat way to deliver them.
We opted to take the local bus back into Ichinoseki since there were no taxis waiting, the cost was 450 yen per person.
On the shole worth seeing particularly if you are going to the aforementioned temple which is not too far distant, but further than you would want to walk.

Tachibana, Kitakami 024-0043, Iwate Prefecture +81 197-65-0300
Excellent
49%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
12%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 109 reviews

Tenshochi

Reviewed By YTCHENG - Hong Kong, China

Sakura blosoomed well around late April to early May each year in Kitakami . Long lines of keinobori hung across the river and rows of attractive cherry trees with treasure boats sailing up and down the river. Lots of people strolled underneath the sakura tunnel and occasionally you could see red horse carts leisurely carried groups of people from one place to the other. This place is very popular amoung the local people and easy to reach from the JR station. Do experience the fun early next year.

7. Koiwai Farm

36-1 Maruyachi | Koiwai Makiba Park, Shizukuishi-cho, Iwate-gun 020-0507, Iwate Prefecture +81 19-692-4321
Excellent
32%
Good
49%
Satisfactory
15%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 234 reviews

Koiwai Farm

It is Japan's largest private farm, 3,000 hectare(7,200 acre),just around 2 hour's bullet train north of Tokyo,and 2 hour's drive west of Sendai. KOIWAI; working dairy and forestry Farm features beautiful wildlife conservation area that is preserved just as nature and dairy living heritage villages. You'll meet tremendous of natural beauty activities, with trekking along the preserved Wilderness area and park rangers'guided forestry wild tractor adventure tour. Our collection of historic 18th-19th century dairy farmers buildings, silos are dotted with, and it is also oldest living dairy heritage site in Japan. This dairy village tours provide a basis for ideas and traditions dairy product in our country that help inform what/how we are.

Reviewed By mtinthemw - Allentown, Pennsylvania

This farm is fun to visit for kids and for adults who just want to get out and take a walk in the fresh air. But it is the soft-cream that brings us back time after time! If you're a meat lover, this is the place, but for a vegetarian there is precious little to eat in the restaurants. Better to bring a picnic and sit in the grass. Or better yet, ice cream for lunch!
It seems the animals are fairly well-treated, but that is something I'd like to know more about.

8. Rock-breaking Cherry Tree

9-1 Uchimaru, Morioka 020-0023, Iwate Prefecture
Excellent
31%
Good
43%
Satisfactory
23%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 199 reviews

Rock-breaking Cherry Tree

Reviewed By Seven W - Washington DC, District of Columbia

We visited around April 20-25 where Morioka cherry blossom was at peak this year. This cherry blossom is super popular among Japanese tourist. I saw tour buses stopped by. Yes, this is worth it.
The tree is an old tree and grew out of a boulder. People in Tohoku where were affected by the earthquake see the life and strength from this tree. The tree has splendid cherry blossom.

9. Miyazawa Kenji Memorial

1-1-36 Yasawa, Hanamaki 025-0011, Iwate Prefecture +81 198-31-2319
Excellent
21%
Good
52%
Satisfactory
25%
Poor
2%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 147 reviews

Miyazawa Kenji Memorial

Reviewed By tyonyc - New York City, New York

It is a small museum of the writer. Pretty interesting but unfortunately there are only limited English signs and descriptions.

10. Miracle Lone Pine Tree

176-6 Sunamori Kesencho, Rikuzentakata 029-2204, Iwate Prefecture +81 192-54-2111
Excellent
36%
Good
39%
Satisfactory
19%
Poor
4%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4 based on 99 reviews

Miracle Lone Pine Tree

Reviewed By Indigo_Scott - Tokyo, Japan

Understand the history behind the significance of this tree. One out of 70,000 that was washed away by the 15+ meter tsunami that hit this town in 2011 it's a powerful symbol. The tree itself died and was "refurbished" into this (bark injected with resin, etc.) but the survival, stubbornness, and the miracle that this is should move you. Give yourself 15+ minutes to get there from the parking lot.

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