Iwate, is the largest prefecture on the Main Island of Honshu, in the northeastern section of Honshu. It faces Aomori Prefecture on the north, Akita Prefecture on the West, Miyagi Prefecture on the south, and borders the Pacific Ocean on the east.

Kitakami River and Mt. Iwate Iwate Prefecture
Kitakami River and Mt. Iwate Iwate Prefecture

Iwate stretches 122km from east to west and 189km from north to south. Its coastline has a total length of 704.3km. Its land area is 15,275sq. km, about 7 times that of Tokyo Metropolis. In the wide area, you can find the attractiveness of varied nature such as Rikucyu-Kaigan Coast with exciting beauty, Hachimantai where the air of the primitive times still remains and Kitakami-Gawa River, the mother of Iwate. In such great nature, the history of Iwate has been made.

Climate and vegetation

Mt. Iwate in early spring
Mt. Iwate in early spring

Rikukyu-Kaigan National Park with a beautiful coastline, bordering the Pacific, has an oceanic climate: the temperature is moderate throughout the year, and spring comes comparatively early.

On the contrary, the northern Kitakami Mountains and westward where attractive Mighty Nature, like virgin forests, marshy ground, and alpine plants, can be found have inland climate: there are great extremes of temperature and autumn comes comparatively early.

Geographical characteristics

Iwate Prefecture Dragon Eye Kagami numa
Iwate Prefecture Dragon Eye Kagami numa

Iwate Prefecture (岩手県, Iwate-ken) is the second largest prefecture in Japan after Hokkaido. It is located in the Tōhoku region of Honshū island and contains the island’s easternmost point. The capital is Morioka. The strata of the Ou Mountains which rise on the boundary between Akita and Iwate prefectures are covered with volcanic rock, and there are many jagged mountains that show various volcanic topography–Mounts Iwate, Hachimentai, Wakadake, and Kurikoma, with abundant hot springs.

Aspite Line Snow Corridor Iwate
Aspite Line Snow Corridor Iwate

The Kitakami Mountains whose summit is Mount Hayachine have been changed into a quasi-plain by erosion for a long time, and the eastern side of the mountains faces the Pacific.

The road leading to Mt. Iwate
The road leading to Mt. Iwate

The Kitakami Basin which extends along Kitakami-Gawa River is sandwiched between the Ou and Kitakami mountains. The coastline, bordering the Pacific, shows diverse sceneries: you can see marine terraces and cliffs made by the erosion of the sea in the north, and a Rias coast with many inlets in the south.

People and history

Iwate Morioka Sakurayama Shrine
Iwate Morioka Sakurayama Shrine

At first, the Ainu controlled this area. Then the Fujiwara clan for four generations lived in the lap of luxury there, and the Hiraizumi Culture flourished for a hundred years. Since then, Iwate has prospered, centering around Morioka City which served as the castle town of Nambu-Han and has been the capital of Iwate Prefecture since the Meiji Restoration.

This place has turned out a great many talented men such as Kenji Miyazawa, who kept writing about the vision of cosmos and a Utopia, and Takuboku Ishikawa, a tanka poet who sang of his native place. Their lives are closely related to the natural features of the region, Iwate, where they grew up.

Culture and festivals

The legend of “Mitsuishi” in Mitsuwari in Morioka City is most generally known as the source of the name of Iwate (Iwate means “rock and hand” in Japanese). “Mitsuishi” indicates three big stones that people have believed in as “Mitsuishi-sama”. According to the legend, an ogre called Rasetsuki that lived there made trouble for people, so the people in the region prayed Mitsuishi-sama to help.

Then Rasetsuki vowed never to play practical tricks on them, and left them there, putting hand prints on each big stone. It is said that the “Sansa Dance” which has been transmitted from generation to generation signifies the delights of the people who succeeded to make the ogre run away.

Industries

Morioka Odori Shopping Street
Morioka Odori Shopping Street

The chief industries in Iwate which have its wide land and the sea are primary industries such as agriculture, stock raising, forestry, and fishery. But while the number of people working in the primary industries has been gradually decreasing, the total number of people working in the secondary industries such as manufacturing and construction and the commerce, transportation, and service industries has been remarkably increasing. Vital industries supported by nature and technology have been developed in Iwate, people of who value creativity.

One-point tourist guide

Jodogahama Iwate
Jodogahama Iwate

The wide land of Iwate can be divided into three parts. In the central and northern region, there are Morioka City which was the castle town of Nambu-Han, Hachimentai which is full of Mighty Nature, and the Koiwai Farm which extends at the foot of Mount Iwate. In the southern area, there are many spots of golden culture which flourished in Hiraizumi, and famous hot springs. Along the beautiful coast, Rikuchu Kaigan National Park stretches.

Transportation access

Morioka Station
Morioka Station

It takes two hours and thirty-six minutes to go from Tokyo Eki to Morioka by Tohoku Shinkansen. You can get off Shinkansen at Ichinoseki, Mizusawa-Esashi, Kitakami or Shinhanamaki. If you use an airplane, it takes one hour and ten minutes to go from Nagoya to Hanamaki Airport, one hour and thirty minutes to go from Osaka, and fifty-five minutes to go from Sapporo.

Many highway buses operate from the National Capital region to Iwate, for example, from Tokyo to Morioka, from Shinagawa to Miyako, from Ikebukuro to Kamaishi, from Ikebukuro and Omiya to Hanamaki, from Yokohama to Morioka, from Shinjuku to Tono.

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