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No.161 (4/9/10)

Road Trip #1 Tohoku -- Iwate Prefecture

By Keiko H. Johnson
Staff Writer

Visiting places in Japan is exciting, but is the expensive toll preventing you from traveling? The trial period of free toll on Hachinohe Expressway is starting in June. As mentioned in the last issue, the toll free trial period on a few of the expressway in Japan will be activated in June 2010 and will stay effective until March 2011. This is another great offer from the newly elected administration of Japan. One of the trial routes is Hachinohe Expressway, which merges into Tohoku Expressway at Ashiro JCT in Iwate Prefecture. From Ashoro JCT, the fee will be charged, yet, great discounts on toll as a whole can be expected. Use this opportunity and enjoy Japan!

Kunohe IC
Millet Camping Park:

Grass field sledding, Grain museum, Camping cottages, and Japanese Soba noodle making (reservation required) can be enjoyed. From Kunohe IC, take Route 340. (Approximately15 minutes drive from the IC).

Yukiyagawa Dam & Forest Park:
This park reminds us of Holland. The water mill standing within the tulip field is an observatory tower, which reveals the vast view of OriZume Dake Mountains. There are camping areas, walking trails, and much more attractions here to enjoy. (Tulip will be in full bloom around May). From Kunohe IC, take Route 20 to Karumai town Yukiyagawa Dam. (Approximately 20 minutes drive from the IC).

Kuji Underground aquatic science museum “Moguranpia”: This educational science theme park provides fun attractions such as: feeding fish tanks and coral beds. Take Hachinohe Expressesway. Exit at Kunohe IC. Drive for about an hour on the Route 284 toward Kuji.

Other areas:
Kuji Beach Camping area: 12minutes from JR Kuji station.
Kuji gorge: 15minutes from JR Kuji station
Kuji amber museum: Kuji city is famous for amber. At this museum, you can experience mining and crafting.

Takizawa Village/ Takizawa IC
Chagu Chagu Horse festival
This historical event of Takizawa town is conducted annually for over 200 years. Some 100 or more horses are fi tted with bright costumes and are paraded on the road leading to Morioka city from Takizawa city. The festival is held annually at Onikoshi - Sozen Shrine at Takizawa Village on the second Saturday of June.

Morioka IC
Morioka is one of the biggest cities in Tohoku region. It was build 300 years ago as a castle town. The historical Cherry trees (Ishiwarizakura) line in and around the ground of district court. These cherry trees are said to be about 400 years old and are famous for their massive tree trunks. They will be in full bloom around late April. The second to the biggest castle ruins of Japan, Morioka Castle ruin park reveals a fi ne view of Mt. Iwate san. It attracts people during the spring for their cherry trees. Other areas in Morioka such as Konya-cho have great stores for fi nding souvenirs from Morioka. One of the famous local products of Iwate is Nanbu Iron utensils that can be found in various styles there.

Koiwai Farm:
The farm provides many attractions from petting zoo to sheep & Dog shows. Seasonal events are conducted periodically as well. The ice cream and other dairy products produced at the farm are exquisite. To get there, take Hachinohe Expressway. Get off at Morioka IC and drive on the Route 46 for 12km/ 15 minutes toward Koiwai farm. (Closed on the 2nd Thursday of April. Open hours: 9:00 a.m. thru. 17:30 p.m.).

Other areas:
Akkado cave, Fureai Land Camping Ground.

Morioka minami IC:
Jyoudoga Hama beach:
Jyodoga Hama is a famous natural monument of Japan. Growing pine trees on the top of immense rocks jutting out and lining out into the long blue sea attract many tourists during the summer. To get there, take Hachinohe Expressway to Morioka minami IC. Take Route 106 and drive for about 2hours/ 100km to Jyodoga Hama beach.

Kita Yamazaki Observatory:
Kita Yamazaki is famous for its vast nature. Viewing immense crags lining long into the ocean bed from the top of the cliff bears the wilderness and the force of oceanic nature.
To get there, take Hachinohe Expressway to Morioka Minami IC. Get off at Morioka Minami IC and take Route 106 to Route 45 toward Kita Yamazaki Tenbodai. It is approximately 3 hours drive form the IC. Other areas: Ryusendo cave. Ryusen Shindo Science Museum. Sugawatari Adventure cave.

Hanamaki IC
Tono: Tono village holds many mystical areas and events typical of Japanese traditions. This town, particulary, is known as a village of horse breeding for centuries. Magari Ya construction style residences (built in horse barn inside of the residence) exhibit such living of people closely linked to the lives of living with horses. Magariya are open to public for observation. Tono also is known as origin of many of Japanese Folk tales, which is continuously told nationwide from generation to generation. Kappa, the mythical creature of peculiarly mischievous character in one of the folk tales, is believed in living in the stream called Kappa Buchi runs through the village. Take Hachinohe/ Tohoku Express Way toward Morioka. Take Kamaishi road toward Tono at Hanamaki JCT. Exit at Kosoku Towa IC toward Rour 39 to Tono. Then take Route 283 to Route 107 to Route 238. Follow the sign for Tono village.

Other areas: Inarikutsu spiritual cave, Tsuzuki Ishi rock. Tono Furusato Mura Theme Park. Dan No Hana fi eld: be heading ground from the ancient time.

Kitakami IC
Kitakami tenshochi: Famous for cherry blossom festival.

Ichinoseki IC:
Chusonji temple:

This national treasure of Japan has 1200 hundred years of history. Having had a strong tie to the history of oshu Fujiwara Family (one of the authorities who lived through the Warring state Period), the temple houses many interesting objects. Among all, the Konjiki - the golden temple exhibits luxurious living of the family. As its name implies, the konjikido is decorated with using pure gold and silver articles on its walls and pillars.
To get there, take Hachinohe Expressway, Get off at Ichinoseki IC. Take Route 4 to Chusonji Temple/ Hiraizumi cho town. It is approximately 5minutes drive from the IC.

The breathtaking beauty of nature, scenery of Geibikei will pull you away from busy life and will give you an awe-sensation. The Japanese House boat is available for 1500 yen.

Others areas: Yume Yakata. OshuFujiwara History Museum. Kegoshi dera Temple: Famous for the Japanese style garden and treasure houses.
Iwa omote Daibutsu: 16.5m high of Daimagaibutsu budda, carved on the crag during the 11th Century, only leaves its face due to the weathering.

Lastly, Those areas I noted above are the prominent sight seeing spots in Iwate prefecture. Each area contains attractions and events besides those I introduced in the article. Seasonal events will be noted on the event section on Page 3. I recommend researching the area before you visit in order to make the best out of each trip you make. Have a great trip!

概訳:東北で最高のドライブ 岩手県

佳子 H. ジョンソン


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