Top things to do in Iwate Prefecture

Top Choice Buddhist Temple in Hiraizumi

Chūson-ji

Established in AD 850 by the priest Ennin, the Chūson-ji complex was expanded by the Ōshu Fujiwara family in the 12th century. A total of three hundred buildings with 40 temples were constructed. Ironically, the fam…
Buddhist Temple in Hiraizumi

Konjiki-dō

Gilded and gleaming up to its eaves, with elaborate lacquerwork and mother-of-pearl inlay throughout, the Konjiki-dō, in the Chuson-ji complex, was at the cutting edge of Heian-era artistry when it was created in 11…
Udon in Morioka

Pairon Honten

Jaja-men (じゃじゃめん; noodle with miso and minced meat) joints are all over town, but this hole-in-the wall is still the leader. Ordering is a breeze: just ask for shō (small), chū (medium) or dai (large). When you're f…
Soba in Morioka

Azumaya Honten

Customers line up and tour buses roll in for this hugely popular wanko-soba restaurant. As per tradition, the waiter will refill your tiny bowl with soba (buckwheat noodles) as soon as you've put the last one down. …
Brewery in Tōno

Tono Brewing

Sleepy Tōno is a surprising home for this hip, friendly taproom, but it's a welcome addition to the city's drinking landscape nonetheless. Locally brewed beers include a 'coffee stout', as well as pale ales and lage…
Gardens in Hiraizumi

Mōtsū-ji

Established by the priest Ennin in AD 850 at the same time as Chūson-ji, Mōtsū-ji was once Tōhoku’s largest and grandest temple complex. The buildings are all long gone, but the enigmatic 12th-century ‘Pure Land’ ga…
Japanese Curry in Morioka

Karē Kōbō Chalten

Serving the best curry we tried in the whole of northern Japan, this small, charming restaurant makes nothing except creamy plates of curry. The wonderful vegetarian option uses eight different vegetables diced to a…
Japanese in Hiraizumi

Kanzan-tei

On top of the hill within the Chūson-ji complex, this glass-walled restaurant has lovely views of the surrounding countryside and is the perfect place to rest your temple-weary legs. Hot and cold soba dishes hit the…
Cultural in Tōno

Tōno Matsuri

This flamboyant spectacle, involving prayers for a bountiful harvest, is deeply imbued with the legends of Tōno. There are yabusame events (horseback archery, in this case a 700-year-old event), traditional dances a…
Coffee in Morioka

Cappuccino Shiki

Perfectly placed to catch caffeine addicts as they tumble off their train and out into the bustle of Morioka, this cosy, dark-wood coffee shop has great espresso and a hip vibe. Toasted sandwiches are also available…