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3-Day Model Trip Day2 / orioka - Hiraizumi

Northern Tohoku

3-Day Model Trip Day2 / Northern Tohoku / orioka - Hiraizumi

Morioka is located at the meeting point of three rivers - Kitakami-gawa River, Nakatsu-gawa River and Shizukuishi-gawa River. It was built 380 years ago as a castle town and the capital of the Nanbu feudal lord's fiefdom. Because of these rivers, water transport developed, and Morioka thrived as a trading center. In the present day, Morioka is one of the biggest cities in the Tohoku region, but as the poet Ishikawa Takuboku wrote in "Mori no Miyako - The City of Trees", the trees in the park and Mt. Iwate in the distance are beautifully green. As there are lots of waterways such as the rivers, the city is called "Mori to Mizu no Miyako - The City of Trees and Water".

Because Morioka's sightseeing spots are dotted around the city, it's best to see them by bus. One of the city buses, called Dendenmushi(snail), starts from Morioka Station and passes near sightseeing spots such as Kami-no-hashi Bridge, Chuo-dori Avenue and Zaimoku-cho. Let's go straight away to Ishiwarizakura ("Rock Splitting Cherry Tree") in the grounds of the district court. This large cherry tree lines the streets around the government buildings. It blooms early and, as its name implies, its trunks have grown so large (4.6 meters in circumference) that they look like they might split a large rock. They are said to be about 350-400 years old. I heard from a local person that the cherry blossoms look fantastic when they are in full bloom around late April.

From here we're going to walk to Morioka Castle Site Park (Iwate Park) in the ruins of Morioka Castle. The only things here that still bear some reminder of Morioka Castle are the stone walls. But the castle was once known by a different name, Kozukata Castle, and even today it is one of the Tohoku regions three great castle ruins. The ruins spread over a large area and now form Morioka Castle Site Park (Iwate Park), which has fine views. From here you can see the whole city, and even as far as Mt. Iwate-yama. The park is a place where townspeople enjoy going for walks or lying in the sun. But it also becomes very busy with tourists in the seasons for cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.

Now we've enjoyed the quiet atmosphere here, let's go to Konya-cho, where we can feel some of the energy of the city. On the way, you will see the town landmark, the red brick Iwate Bank Nakanohashi Branch. You will be surprised to hear that this building was built in 1911, and is still actually used as a bank. The smart, red brick architecture stands out even today, so it must have been a really modern building at the time. From around here we can enjoy a slow walk towards Kami-no-hashi Bridge through the Konya-cho neighborhood. This area still has many buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, giving it a unique appearance. The black lattice door of the Gozaku (Old merchant house and shop) merchant house and the old-fashioned watchtower in the guardhouse are good places to take photographs.

The area contains old shops that handle local specialties such as ironware and Nanbu sembei (rice crackers), so you might just find the perfect souvenir. If you turn left in Kami-no-hashi-cho, you will come to Kami-no-hashi over Nakatsu-gawa River. Its railings are decorated with onion-shaped knobs called "giboshi", which create an attractive scene. These 18 knobs are made of bronze, and were attached at the time Morioka Castle was built.

From here, we're going to get on a bus once more and visit "Takuboku Shinkon no Ie - the Takuboku Honeymoon House", the house where the poet Ishikawa Takuboku lived for just a month after he was married. Then we'll go to Ihatov Avenue, a 430 m long shopping street. This is lined with statues of the fable writer Kenji Miyazawa, and monuments to the stories he wrote, so it makes the perfect spot to take a souvenir photograph. There are also shops selling handmade dumplings and craft items, so it is a good place to rest if you are tired of looking for souvenirs. When you're full, let's head for Hiraizumi.