Take a steam locomotive to the land of the mythical kappa
Tono is the land of the mythical creatures known as kappa. The place 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.
- Discover the legends of the land
- The L-shaped houses and other artifacts at Tono Furusato Village
There are 119 stories in the book The Legends of Tono
Fukusenji Temple in Tono houses the largest wooden Buddha in Japan
How to Get There
You can reach Tono from Shin-Hanamaki Station.
Take the Tohoku Shinkansen to 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.
Folklore and little green monsters
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.
Stories say that kappa would lure children into the water and eat them. The only thing they like more than human flesh is cucumbers.
Tono Municipal Museum
Wherever you go in Tono you will see kappa. The best place to learn more about them and the history of Tono itself is the Tono Municipal Museum. There are three exhibition rooms, a multiscreen theater, slides, and pictures.
Pregnant women praying to kappa
Just behind Jokenji Temple is a small stream known as Kappabuchi, which has a small shrine dedicated to the legendary creatures.
Pregnant women 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.
Not just kappa
Tono Furusato Village is a great place to see traditional L-shaped houses. These houses were common in Iwate during the Edo period (1603-1867). Many of them have been moved to their current sites from other parts of Tono. You can see how humans and horses lived under one roof and how invaluable horses were to human existence.
Tono Furusato Village is an open-air museum. You can wander around at your own pace or take a guided tour. There are several events held throughout the year for visitors to take part in and enjoy.
Other places of interest in the area
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.