The land of the mythical creatures known as kappa, Tono, will charm you with its legends and intrigue you with its rich history. Best of all, you can take a real steam locomotive to get there.
There are 119 stories in the book The Legends of Tono
Fukusenji Temple in Tono houses the largest wooden Buddha in Japan
You can reach Tono via JR Shin-Hanamaki Station.
Take the Tohoku Shinkansen to JR Shin-Hanamaki Station and take the Kamaishi Line to Tono (one hour). However, the most enjoyable way to get to Tono is on the SL Ginga, an old steam locomotive that runs between Hanamaki and Kamaishi.
Kappa are imaginary green creatures with pointy noses, shells on their backs and plates on their heads. The legend of the kappa was created to keep children from going too close to rivers and other bodies of water.
It is rumored that kappa would lure children into the water and eat them. The only thing they like more than human flesh is cucumbers.
Wherever you go in Tono you will see kappa. The best place to learn more about them, and indeed the history of Tono itself, is the Tono Municipal Museum. There are three exhibition rooms, a multiscreen theater, slides and pictures.
Just behind Jokenji Temple is a small stream known as Kappabuchi, which has a small shrine dedicated to the legendary creatures.
Pregnant women from the area often come to pray and make offerings at this shrine, such as a piece of red cloth shaped like a breast. It is believed this will ensure an abundance of breast milk.
Tono Furusato Village is a great place to see traditional L-shaped houses. These houses were common in Iwate during the Edo period. Many of themhave been moved to their current site from otsher parts of Tono. You can see how humans and horses lived under one roof, and how invaluable horses were to human existence.
Furusato Village is an open-air museum. You can wander around at you own pace or take a guided tour. There are several events held throughout the year for visitors to take part in and enjoy.
As a former castle town, Tono has a rich history. You can check out one of the many festivals held in Tono throughout the year, or head to one of the many parks, temples, shrines or historical sites. The hot springs of Hanamaki are close, as is Kamaishi on the coast.