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Jonai Suwakoji Samurai Houses

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Jonai Suwakoji Samurai Houses


Live like a samurai in the Edo period stronghold town of Kanegasaki

Kanegasaki Town, Iwate Prefecture



The Jonai Suwakoji district of Kanegasaki Town in Iwate Prefecture sits frozen in time, with its Edo period (1603-1867) residences once the homes of samurai.


The Kanegasaki stronghold, in what used to be known as Nishine Village, was one of 21 castles ruled by Date Masamune (1567-1636), the founder of Sendai and once the most powerful daimyo (feudal lord) of the Tohoku region. Though nothing of the castle remains, the nearby homes of samurai and others still exist in the Jonai Suwakoji conservation area. Many of these structures retain original Edo architectural features, with a few even featuring thatched roofs.


Before taking a stroll around the historic neighborhood, visit the Kamishimo Resting Place, a restaurant and local produce store that also offers a kimono experience. Choose from a selection of kimono styles and enjoy the town dressed as Edo period residents once did.


Stop by the former Sakamoto family samurai residence for a matcha tea ceremony with seasonal Japanese sweets, and take a calligraphy lesson within the thatched buildings of what was the Onuma family samurai home. Each activity, the pastimes of samurai, takes just 20 or 30 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to explore the town’s two samurai residence restaurants and the Kanegasaki Stronghold History Museum.


How to get there

Take the Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo Station to Mizusawa Esashi Station for about 2 hours  and 40 minutes. It is about 25 minutes by train from Iwate Hanamaki Airport or about 20 minutes by taxi from Mizusawa Esashi Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen. Alternatively, it is about 5 minutes by car from the Mizusawa Interchange on the Tohoku Expressway.


85 Nishine Honcho, Kanegasaki-cho, Isawa-gun, Iwate-ken


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