Largest City


Go your own way

The local people say that Iwate is a place where you forge your own path. Take their advice and enjoy this re-emerging—and rewarding—destination.

Iwate Prefecture’s Kamaishi city will host two games during the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Check out our Kamaishi guide for sightseeing ideas around the area!

Emerald-clad mountains, fertile farmland, and rural villages characterize much of Iwate prefecture located in the northeastern corner of remote Tohoku, but it’s the dynamic and dramatic coastline that remains its defining feature. From the sheer cliffs of Kitayamazaki to the heavenly waters of Jodogahama all the way down to the ‘miracle’ surviving pine tree at Takata-matsubara, to travel Iwate’s coast is to witness the force of nature and how it has powerfully shaped the region.

The miracle pine tree in Iwate remains a symbol of hope for those affected by the 2011 tsunami.

The Miracle Pine Tree is a symbol of hope after it inexplicably remained intact after the 2011 disaster.

Facing the Pacific Ocean, Iwate suffered badly in the March 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Years later, and cities are still being rebuilt in the areas that were worst hit. But there are real signs of hope, with the reconstruction of the Sanriku Fukko National Park and the creation of a long-distance nature trail, the Michinoku Coastal Trail, which will stretch 700km from Kabushima in Aomori to Soma in Fukushima along the Sanriku coastline.

You’ll need a car to get the most out of exploring Iwate. From Honshu travel up the coast, stopping further inland at Hiraizumi, Iwate’s most important historical attraction, worth a visit for the beautiful golden hall at Chuson-ji. Farther north, Tono valley is a picturesque rural town that is famous as the center of Japanese folklore.

Chuson-ji Temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture.

Photo by: shejian Chuson-ji Temple is just one of Iwate’s World Heritage Sites.

Stay overnight to experience one of the many farms or homestays on offer, listening to the tales of shape-shifting animals and impish water spirits. Tono’s most beloved character is the Kappa—a kind of mischievous frog with a plate on his head that you might recognize as the mascot of chain sushi-go-round restaurant, Kappa Zushi.

Morioka is the prefectural capital where you can try and beat the record by eating more than 500 servings of the local specialty, wanko-soba; tiny bowls of noodles in a simple broth that are served one after the other. Work it off with a rewarding hike up Mount Iwate, a majestic volcano that serves as Morioka’s postcard-perfect backdrop and provides an unbeatable panorama of the region.

Places to visit

Chuson-ji Temple

Chuson-ji Temple

Visit the golden pavilion of the north deep within the mountains of Iwate Prefecture.

Top 10 cultural experiences in Japan: Join a matsuri


Oodles of noodles in this colorful Iwate city.

Morioka festival

Morioka Sansa Odori Festival

Dance with the locals in the world’s largest taiko drumming party.

Iwate Snow Fest

Iwate Snow Festival

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Genbikei Gorge

Discover the tradition of flying dango!

Other Destinations in Tohoku

Godzilla Rock Oga, Akita Japan


The best way to enjoy Akita is simply to go outside and be among it. Watch out for Godzilla though.

Tsurunomaihashi Bridge in Aomori Prefecture.


The northern tip of Tohoku and the boundary between the known and unknown Japan.

Ouchijuku in Fukushima, Japan.


Don't miss out on this boundless, breathtaking natural landscape.

Hitome Senbon Zakura in Miyagi, Japan.


With vibrant Sendai at its core, Miyagi makes the ideal base for exploring the remote corners of Tohoku.

Yamadera Temple in Yamagata is a good hiking and autumn spot in Japan.


Winter is coming. But so is spring, summer and fall at this rewarding year-round destination.

This Month’s Top Spots

Nagoya City Aichi Park


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Tokyo Skyline Japan Tokyo Tower


From glittering skyscrapers to rickety ramen shacks, Tokyo is a dazzling mix of the ultra modern and traditional.

Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.


Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.