Iwate 岩手

Mount Iwate in the background of Morioka city in the Iwate prefecture

Located in the Tohoku (Northeast Region) region and is the easternmost prefecture of the main island Honshu. The prefectural capital is Morioka and has a population of 300,000 people. Iwate is also has the lowest population density of any prefecture outside of Hokkaido. There are many stories regarding the origin of the name Iwate, literally translating to "rock hand" in English. The most well known being the tale of Oni no tegata, where a mischievous devil is said to have been shackled and sealed to the "Three Rocks" shrine in Morioka, leaving his hand print on one of the rocks. It is said the devil's hand print can still be seen on one of the rocks after rainfall.

Things to see in Iwate

Some of the most visited sightseeing spots in Iwate.

  1. Hiraizumi

    Konjikido Hall at the Chusonji temple in Hiraizumi

    Hiraizumi was chosen as the main seat of the then powerful Fujiwara clan during the Heian Period (794 to 1185). And as the city grew in both political power and cultural sophistication, it even came to rival Kyoto the national capital at the time. This all changed abruptly in 1189 when Minamoto Yoritomo, soon to become Japan's first shogun, destroyed much of the city. And while the city never recovered its former status, it still features some of the most historic and cultural properties of the Tohoku Region. Notably still remaining from that period are the Chusonji and Motsuji temples.

    How to get there

    Hiraizumi is connected by the JR Tohoku Main Line to Morioka in the north and Sendai to the south. With the closest stopping Shinkansen station being the Ichinoseki station. From where Hiraizumi is only a 10 minutes local train ride away.

  2. Appi Kogen Ski Resort

    Hotel Appi Grand at the Appi Kogen ski resort

    The Appi Kogen Ski Resort is located about 50 kilometers north from Morioka in the Appi Kougen (Appi Highlands). With a good variety of long and wide ski courses it is one of the best ski resorts in the Tohoku Region. The ski resort's courses are spread out between Mount Maemori and the adjacent Mount Nishimori with beautiful views of the surrounding mountain range. Observation points located at their peaks both Mount Iwate and Mount Hachimantai can be observed on cloudless days. The yearly ski season starts from early December until early May.

    At the base of the ski slopes lies the Hotel Appi Grand. The large hotel area, consisting of several large buildings, even have its own shuttle bus. And the hotel have both indoor and outdoor hot spring baths.

    Hotel Appi Grand at the Appi Kogen ski resort

    How to get there

    By bus
    Every 1-2 hours buses connects the resort with Morioka Station. With a one-way trip taking about 50 minutes.

    By train
    Appi Kogen Station is located about 3 kilometers from the ski resort and runs direct trains every 2-3 hours to Morioka. The train ride takes about 1 hour.