Top ChoiceBuddhist Temple in Hiraizumi

Chūson-ji

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 300 buildings with 40 temples were constructed. Ironically, the family's...

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...

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’...

Museum in Tōno

Tōno Folktale & Storytelling Center

Housed in the restored ryokan where Yanagita Kunio penned his famous work Legends of Tōno, this evocative museum has audiovisuals of some of the tales and memorabilia pertaining to Yanagita. There is minimal...

Buddhist Temple in Tōno

Jōken-ji

This peaceful temple is dedicated to the deity image of Obinzuru-sama. Behind the temple is the kappa-buchi pool, where Tōno's famous water sprites lurk. It is said that if pregnant women worship at the shrine on...

Landmark in Tōno

Tsuzuki-ishi

A curious rock that rests amid aromatic cedars, Tsuzuki-ishi is either a natural formation or a dolmen (primitive tomb). A short, steep hike rewards you with views across the valley, but take heed as bears (and...

Park in Morioka

Iwate-kōen

If you head east on foot from the train station along Kaiun-bashi for about 2km, you’ll eventually come to this landscaped park, where Morioka-jō once stood. All that remains of the castle, completed in 1633 and...

Landmark in Morioka

Rock-Splitting Cherry Tree

A huge cracked granite boulder sits in front of the Morioka District Court, out of which sprouts this large cherry tree, said to be almost four hundred years old. The tree is a much-loved local attraction, though...

Memorial in Tōno

Gohyaku Rakan

In the hills above Tōno, these eerie, moss-covered rock carvings of five hundred disciples of Buddha were fashioned by a priest to console the spirits of those who died in a 1754 famine. It's a truly unique site...

Buddhist Temple in Hiraizumi

Kyōzō

One of only two original constructions remaining on the Chūson-ji site, this understated building guarded by Kishi Monju Bosatsu and Four Attendants formerly stored sacred sutras and artefacts.

Shrine in Tōno

Unedori-sama

About 2.5km southwest of Tōno Station is Unedori-sama, the matchmaking shrine. According to legend, if you tie a strip of red cloth around one of the pines, using only your left hand, you'll meet your soul mate.

Shinto Shrine in Morioka

Sakurayama-jinja

The start and end point for the Sansa Odori dancers in Morioka's biggest festival is this modest shrine on the edge of Iwate-kōen.

Shinto Shrine in Tōno

Aragami Jinja

You may need to ask a local to take or direct you to this photogenic little shrine in the middle of a luminous yellow field of canola. If you're a shutterbug, it's worth the treasure hunt.

Historic Building in Tōno

Yamaguchi Waterwheel

This delightful thatch-roofed waterwheel, once used for milling crops, has been preserved as a symbol of Tōno's past.

Historic Building in Tōno

Tōno Denshōen

About 5km east of the town centre is Denshōen, a traditional farmhouse, now housing a small cultural museum. The highlights here are the thousand Oshira-sama deities fashioned from mulberry wood. There is some...

Museum in Tōno

Tōno Municipal Museum

With exhibits depicting some of Tōno's famous legends, this museum provides a good measure of background information and context for what's to come in the valley beyond.