Located in northern Honshu, Mt. Iwate looms large over the prefecture of the same name. No huge urban centers to be found here—just mountains, hot springs, the ocean and rice fields. The World Heritage Sites in Hiraizumi act as a great starting point for exploration into Iwate’s rich heritage and natural beauty.
Iwate can be accessed by the JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo, Sendai and Hakodate as well as via local JR trains, highway bus and car. You can also fly into Hanamaki Airport.
Ichinoseki is the first stop along the JR Tohoku Shinkansen in Iwate, and takes between two and three hours from Tokyo, or about 40 minutes from Sendai. 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. Most major locations in Iwate 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 a local JR train 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 little Fuji, strolls along the coast, dances with demons, and exploding fireworks.
A sea change of scenery occurs in the fall as the 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.