Knowing more about the destination will surely make your trip a lot better. Here is some basic knowledge of Iwate, Japan's second biggest prefecture next to Hokkaido. Read this article and know the place better!
What kind of place is Iwate?
Iwate is a prefecture in Japan that is facing the Pacific Ocean in the Tohoku region, and suffered an enormous damage back in 2011 when the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami occurred. In the prefecture, the reconstruction is still going on mainly in the coastal area to this date.
Throughout the prefecture, there are a number of traces suggesting that there were people living here since ancient times, such as ruins from over 10,000 years ago. During the late 11th century and the 12th century, Hiraizumi (registered as a World Heritage Site) was then second most prosperous city in Japan, only next to Kyoto.
The climate in this vast prefecture differs a lot depending on where you are. The inland area is characterized by cold winters and hot summers. The mountainous region gets a lot of snow in winter. In the coastal areas, it doesn't get too hot in summer but it doesn't get much snow or as cold as it does inland.
People from the north tend to have a sincere and genuine personality. They tend to be conservative and it often takes a while to get along with them. People from the south are said to be active. They are considered to be people with a mercantile mindset and are good at making deals. They like to try new things, but tend to get bored of them relatively soon.
They don't move their mouth too much when they speak, so the "shi" and "su" sounds sound like "chi" and "tsu". One characteristic of the dialect is that they often use voiced consonants. Instead of "sou desu," which roughly means "that's right" and is standard Japanese, in Iwate they simply say "nda." In addition, in Iwate, they tend to end nouns with "kko," so "inu" (dog) becomes "inukko" and "ocha" (tea) becomes "ochakko."
Transportation Access Guide
How to Reach Iwate
It would be best to use the bullet train to get to Iwate from Tokyo. It takes about 2 hours from Tokyo to Morioka, Iwate. If you are going there from Hokkaido or Nagoya, then airplane is the best option as it only takes about an hour. From Osaka or Fukuoka, it also takes about 1.5~2 hours on airplane. No direct international flight operates in Iwate, so you need to transfer to get there.
Transportation within Iwate
The main means of transportation within the prefecture are JR lines. It is highly recommended to use event trains that are organized by seasons by Sanriku Railways that runs along the coastal area. Within each city, public buses and trams would come in handy. There also is an area where you can go around with rental bike.
Representative Sightseeing Spot
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of touristic spots in Iwate is the World Heritage Site, Hiraizumi. You can see gardens, ruins, and temples such as Chusonji, which is known for its golden hall. Ryusendo is also recommended as it is a popular spot where you can see the limestone cave that has been building up since ancient times and the underground lake with crystal blue water. It has been registered as a national natural monument along with the bats that inhibit in the cave.
Famous Local Cuisine You Must Try
Wanko soba is the famous local specialty of Iwate. It is a small serving of soba noodles in a small bowl, and the iconic feature of this local food is the way to eat it. There will be an assistant standing next to you and once you finish the bowl, the assistant is going to refill the bowl right away, and it goes on and on until you ask to stop. Morioka reimen is another famous local food. It is originally a Korean dish but now known as one of Iwate's comfort foods. The cold soup uses beef bone broth and the sourness and spiciness of kimchi is very addictive. The noodles are very smooth and its chewy texture is another good thing about the dish. Hittsumi is a local cuisine that is a dish of chicken, root crops, and wheat dough cooked together. Why don't you try this too?
The standard choice for souvenir is a traditional handicraft, and out of all, the most iconic Iwate craft is the traditional ironware with a history of over 400 years, nambu tekki. The iron kettle with small cube decorations is very famous, but they also have smaller items such as a wind chime that plays a refreshing sound. The local wooden doll called kokeshi is also recommended. If you are going for snacks, then how about getting nambu senbei? It is a crispy snack made with wheat and grilled in a round shape, topped with ingredients like sesame or peanuts. Its simple taste is very good.
Iwate is a prefecture with a vast land, great mountains, and beautiful ocean. Enjoy the great scenery that differs with the areas!
*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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