Part of the Tohoku region, Iwate overlooks the Pacific Ocean via the Sanriku coastline and is buttressed by the Ou mountain ranges, home to some of Japan's best ski resorts and hot springs. Roughly divided into four distinct regions, Iwate is marked by common themes of nature worship, traditional folklore, and the prefecture's samurai history. Gourmands are drawn to some of Japan's best wagyu beef, rice and sake. The World Heritage Sites in Hiraizumi act as a great starting point for exploration into Iwate’s rich heritage and natural beauty.
The JR Tohoku Shinkansen travels to Iwate each day from Tokyo, Sendai and Hakodate. You can also reach Iwate via local JR trains, highway bus and car. Iwate-Hanamaki Airport services domestic and international carriers.
Ichinoseki is the first stop along the JR Tohoku Shinkansen in Iwate, and takes roughly two hours from Tokyo. It is the closest major city to Hiraizumi, a city famous for its World Heritage Sites. From Ichinoseki you can travel between most major cities in Iwate using the JR Tohoku Shinkansen, or local JR trains, all of which accept the Japan Rail Pass. Iwate's capital, Morioka, is another main transport hub. Major locations are also serviced by buses. Hanamaki Airport handles domestic and limited international flights. The flight schedule changes seasonally, so planning ahead is advised. From Hanamaki Airport you can take local JR trains north to Morioka or south to Kitakami, Hiraizumi and Ichinoseki.
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Spring brings cherry blossoms, carp streamers, praying for fire prevention, rice paddy art, and a festival for both cows and horses.
Summer is for hikes up Mt. Iwate or "little Fuji," strolls along the coast, dances with demons, and exploding fireworks.
Leaves turn, rice is harvested, and the Fujiwara Fall Festival takes place.
Iwate's winter brings skiing and other winter pursuits, longevity dances, naked festivals, a soba-eating tournament and a snow festival.