Recommended Two-Day Sightseeing Course for Iwate Around a World Heritage Site, Hiraizumi, in Tohoku Region
Iwate has many other charming spots to visit aside from Chuson-ji Temple, which is a World Heritage Site in Hiraizumi. This area is ranked 2nd in the country, so it is necessary to do some careful planning before visiting. This article introduces a 2-day model course to tour around the area!
[Day 1] 8:30 AM: Morioka Station
Start from Morioka Station. Aside from the JR Tazawako Line, Tohoku Line, Hanawa Line, and the Yamada Line, you may also access the Akita Shinkansen, Tohoku Shinkansen, and Iwate Galaxy Railway Lines. However, you may also start off by taking the Iwate Kenpoku Bus, which has many routes.
[Day 1] 8:30 AM: Morioka Station
Transfer ▶ Morioka Station → Koiwai Station
Ride the train for about 10 minutes on the Tazawako Line from JR Morioka Station and get off at Koiwai Station.
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM: Koiwai Farm (About 4 Hours)
About 10 to 15 minutes by taxi from Koiwai Station
The first place you should visit is Koiwai Farm, which has been around since 1891 and has an area of around 30 million sq.m. This farm is the largest in the country. The main facility is Makiba Garden – a popular spot where one can enjoy shows where you can see people herding dogs and sheep, as well as activities such as making butter.
Enjoy the View of A Lonesome Cherry Blossom Tree and Mt. Iwate
This single cherry blossom tree is the symbol of Koiwai Farm, with Mt. Iwate in the background. The area used to be pastureland, so the tree served as shade for cattle around 100 years ago. The view is beautiful and calming. It is a good idea to try the famous dish "Genghis Khan" (grilled lamb). Once you are finished, make your way back to Morioka.
Entrance Fee: 800 JPY/adults (junior high school students and above), 300 JPY/children (5 years old to 6th year of elementary school)
Transfer ▶ Koiwai Station → Morioka Station
Ride a taxi from Koiwai Farm for 10 to 15 minutes and get off at Koiwai Station. Ride the JR Tazawako Line for 10 minutes to get to Morioka Station.
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM: Have Wanko Soba Noodles Around Morioka Station (Approximately 1 Hour)
Wanko soba (steamed noodles) are placed inside a bowl and then served with spices like welsh onions. What is unique about this dish is that once you have cleared your bowl, the waiter standing beside you will keep refilling it. If you have had your fill, one way to signal that you are finished is to cover the bowl with the lid. Please try this dish, as there are many restaurants around Morioka Station that will let you enjoy Wanko soba!
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM: Tour Morioka City (Approximately 1.5 Hours)
Once you are full, go for a tour of Morioka City, where you can find several sightseeing spots. First off, visit the remains of Morioka Castle at Iwate Park. You can still see the remains of the stone walls and castle moats, which were built in 1933. The castle is surrounded by a park, which is used as a viewing spot for cherry blossoms in the spring and for foliage in fall.
Another place to visit would be Morioka Hachimangu Shrine, where people worship deities that support agriculture, industry, commerce, education, food, clothing, etc. This bright vermillion shrine is a must-see! Once you have finished looking around the city, head over to Geibikei Gorge in Ichinoseki City, where you will stay the night.
Transfer ▶ Morioka Station → Geibikei Station
Ride the JR Tohoku Shinkansen at Morioka Station and transfer at Ichinoseki Station. Ride the JR Ofunato Line for about 30 minutes and get off at Geibikei Station.
6:30 PM: Check-in at Kajiyabekkan Ramakkoro Yamaneko Yado
Walk for about 5 minutes from Geibikei Station
The accommodation for the first night is an annex to a long-established hotel that has been in business for more than 300 years. This hotel is popular for its warm, simple atmosphere and its closeness to Geibikei Gorge, which is only a 6-minute walk away. Here you can enjoy delicious dishes, such as southern Iwate cattle beef – which is expensive due to its scarcity – and the locally produced Oshu chicken, along with other charming dishes like fresh seafood from Kesennuma.
[Day 2] 9:30 PM - 11:00 PM: Go Down Geibikei Gorge
Around a 6-minute walk from the hotel
Start your 2nd day off by gazing upon the superb view as you go downstream on Geibikei Gorge in a boat! Go past the heugh measuring over 100m in height, and proceed through the nearly 2km-long gorge as the boatman steers using only one oar. It takes about 90 minutes to go back and forth. Here you can enjoy a beautiful view of nature that has been named as one of the most scenic spots in the country. Next off, head to Hiraizumi, a World Heritage Site.
Boat Ride Fee: 1,600 JPY/adult, 860 JPY/elementary school student, 200 JPY/small children
Transfer ▶ Geibikei Station → Hiraizumi Station
Transfer to Ichinoseki Station from Geibikei Station using the JR Ofunato Line. It takes around 30 minutes. Get on the JR Tohoku Line for 7 to 8 minutes and then get off at Hiraizumi Station.
12:40 PM - 1:40 PM: Have Lunch at Bashokan, Hiraizumi (Approximately 1 Hour)
Walk for about 3 minutes from Hiraizumi Station
Upon arrival at Hiraizumi Station, have lunch at the famous buckwheat noodle restaurant, Bashokan. This restaurant has 100 years of history and offers delicious homemade noodles, broth, and specially selected local ingredients. It is recommended to try the "Sandai Soba" (1,150 JPY (incl. tax)), which has grated nameko (type of mushroom) and yam, with a topping of tempura. They have English and Chinese (Simplified) menus.
1:40 PM: Tour Hiraizumi
The last stop for the 2nd day is Hiraizumi, which is a World Heritage Site in Iwate Prefecture. Hiraizumi is particularly popular for its various temples, gardens, and ruins, which are reminiscent of the pure Buddhist way of thinking. This area has been built in the image of an ideal world, which you may not find in other places.
Here you may come across several prominent Cultural Properties of Japan, such as a famous Tendai temple called Chuson-ji, which has a Konjikido (Golden Hall) that is known as a national treasure, along with Motsu-ji, which is designated as both a Special Historic Site and Special Place of Scenic Beauty in Japan. To go back to Morioka, you may opt to take the Shinkansen.
Chuson-ji (Konjikido, Sankozo, Kyozo, Kyu-Oido) Viewing Fee: 800 JPY/adult, 500 JPY/high school student, 300 JPY/junior high student, 200 JPY/elementary school student
It is recommended to take the "Runrun" bus when going from one destination to another in Hiraizumi for tourism. The one-day passenger ticket costs 400 JPY.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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