On the outskirts of the Iwate town of Hiraizumi stands a striking red and white Buddhist temple, built into a cliff-face: Takkoku no Iwaya. This is a temple steeped in history. It has been a sacred site since 801AD. Like many early Buddhist sites, it began with a cave, which was then enclosed by a … Continue reading Takkoku no Iwaya: history carved in stone
Travelers bound for Hiraizumi, with its World Heritage sites dating back a thousand years, usually change from the Shinkansen to the local train at Ichinoseki and are often so intent on their final destination that they miss the delights Ichinoseki has to offer. But spare a few hours to explore; you won't be disappointed. Ichinoseki's … Continue reading Iwate’s Ichinoseki: a way station worth checking out
With virus cases continuing to rise in both Japan and elsewhere, clearly it's still not a good idea to travel. So I've headed back to my collection of travelogues to see what I might find to fire my imagination and evoke my own memories. My eye fell upon Dorothy Britton's 1974 translation of "Narrow Road … Continue reading More Armchair Travel: Heading Toward Tohoku
The small city of Kamaishi, on the Sanriku coast of Iwate Prefecture, for more than a century a thriving center of Japan's steel production is, these days, supported by fisheries, shellfish farms, and eco-tourism. It was badly impacted by the 2011 Tohoku disaster, with the tsunami waters reaching 4.3 meters, easily breaching the Kamaishi Tsunami Protection … Continue reading Kamaishi Kannon: guardian goddess and witness to history
Soba, a Japanese noodle made of buckwheat, became popular in Japan during the Edo Period (1603-1868) and remains popular to this day. Frequently consumed as a snack or fast food, it can also form a complete meal. Buckwheat has been cultivated in Japan for centuries, although much of the buckwheat flour used these days is … Continue reading So many ways to eat soba!
Iwate Prefecture in Japan's Tohoku (northeast) region is a beautiful and diverse area with much to recommend it to the intrepid tourist. Not long ago we were travelling the countryside between Hiraizumi in the interior and Ofunato, one of Iwate's coastal cities hard-hit by the 2011 earthquake/tsunami disaster, and decided to make a stop at … Continue reading Iwate Off the Beaten Track