Eastern Tohoku Luxury in Nature

Eastern Tohoku Luxury in Nature

Follow the east coast of north Honshu island on a journey of discovery and wonder in the luxurious Eastern Tohoku area.

You’ll first travel to Morioka, a city famous for its noodles. Then, explore the Tono area, birthplace of many of Japan’s folklore and legend. Here you’ll listen to a storyteller relate the tales of centuries past as well. 

Finally move along the Sanriku Coast and enjoy the rugged beauty of the cliffs and stone beaches. As you journey the small coastal towns you’ll see the rebirth of the towns and villages devastated by the tsunami of 2011. As you converse with the locals you’ll marvel at their resilience and strength.

Day 1

Narita Arrival Transfer

Narita Arrival Transfer

Meet your driver in the arrival area and move to Tokyo. It is about a 90 minute drive.

Palace Hotel Tokyo

Palace Hotel Tokyo (1 night)

Location - Center of Tokyo adjacent to the Imperial palace gardens, in the heart of the financial and business district Marunouchi - 10-minute walk to Tokyo Station with 12 railways and bullet trains - Direct underground access to Otemachi Station with 5 metro lines - 30 minutes to Haneda Airport by taxi -60-90 minutes to Narita Airport by taxi - 10 minute taxi ride to famous Ginza shopping district - Free-standing hotel - Spacious guest rooms from 45sq.m./485sq.ft, most futuring balconies - Very first evian SPA in Japan - State of the art fitness facilities with indoor pool - 7 unique restaurants - 3 bars and lounges Services - Complimentary wireless/wired in-room Internet - Complimentary use of fitness center for staying guests - Complimentary mineral water - Complimentary daily newspaper

Day 2

Private vehicle transfer, hotel to station

Private vehicle transfer, hotel to station

Meet your driver in the lobby of your hotel and move to the station. Your driver will assist you in boarding your train.

Shinkansen Tokyo - Morioka

Shinkansen Tokyo - Morioka

Private Guided Tour

Private Guided Tour

Meet your guide in the lobby of the hotel and set out for a private guided tour.

Morioka

Morioka

Morioka is the capital city of Iwate Prefecture. Ringed by mountains and having an abundance of rivers, Morioka is a beautiful city and a good spot to use as a jumping off point for the rest of Tohoku. Unfortunately, there isn't a major sightseeing spot. What the city is well known for is its various styles of noodles. The "Three Great Noodles of Morioka" are Wanko Soba, Reimen and Jajamen. These noodle dishes can be enjoyed at specialized restaurants and general establishments offering these local specialties. The main tourist attraction in the city is Morioka Castle Ruins Park, the grounds where Morioka Castle once stood. The castle was demolished during the Meiji Restoration and left to go to ruin. The site was cleared in the early 20th century and became Iwate Park. It is a popular recreation area for the locals and a popular cherry blossom spot. Morioka is also famous for ironware, especially tea kettles. For many centuries, the region has been a source for high quality iron sand, rock sand, river sand, clay, and coal, all necessary for the manufacture of cast iron. It is an ideal location for metal casting. The lords of the Nanbu Clan began the industry when they summoned skilled craftsmen from Yamanashi and Kyoto. They started making cannons, hanging bells and iron tea kettles. The eighth lord began the study and performance of tea ceremony in the town and area and began presenting the kettles as gifts for feudal lords and the shogun. The kettles became intricate and delicate in design over time and became famous as Nanbu Kettles. . There are many workshops within Morioka that continue the traditional techniques to make modern implements including pots and frying pans and where visitors can see how the kettles are made.

Shikitei

Shikitei (1 night)

Since Shikitei’s opening, we have been dedicating ourselves to preparing delicious dishes. In our restaurant, re-organized in 2015, you can enjoy the best of what Iwate has to offer every season.

Sukiya-zukuri style building Relax in a simple, elegant, classic Japanese sukiya-zukuri style lodging. In 2015, we have added open-air baths to several of our rooms.

Day 3

Private Guided Tour

Private Guided Tour

Meet your guide in the lobby of the hotel and set out for a private guided tour.

Tono Town

Tono Town

Tono is a farming town located in the low hills in the center of Iwate Prefecture. The region, distinguished for its pastoral landscapes and traditional agrarian culture, is best known as a storehouse of Japanese folklore. Its storytelling tradition, full of legends of spirits, animals and supernatural creatures, was passed down through generations until they were collected by Yanagita Kunio, the premier folklorist of the late Meiji/early Taisho Eras. Yanagita came to the region in the late 19th century and, with the help of Sasaki Kizen, a native of the town, gathered the folktales and published them in "Legends of Tono", a book whose relevance is still felt through the use of its stories in modern cinema, manga and anime. Traditional storytellers still give performance at locales throughout the town.

Sightseeing in Tono

Sightseeing in Tono

In Tono exist three folk villages, made up of traditional magariya (L-shaped) farmhouses, storehouses, small museums and activity centers. Tono Furusato (Hometown) Village, Tono's largest and best preserved folk village, shows the look and feel of a traditional Northern Japanese farming village. It includes L-shaped thatched-roofed farmhouses, kura (storehouses), watermills and rice and vegetable fields. The village is often used as a shooting location for TV dramas and movies. Visitors can also try hands-on activities such as farming, or straw and bamboo handicrafts. Denshoen is a small folk village of about a dozen traditional farmhouses, warehouses, a Sasaki Kisen museum and other buildings. They include the farmhouse where Sasaki Kisen collected the Tono oral traditions. Visitors can learn about the lifestyle of the local farmers and participate in activities such as storytelling, making straw craft and weaving. Part of the Tono City Waterworks, Takamuro Suikoen Park is a small folk village built around a large pond. It includes a traditional farmhouse, warehouses and other buildings displaying various tools and farm implements. Visitors can try hands-on activities such as fishing and cooking. Next door is a separate public hot spring facility. The Tono Municipal Museum is an excellent museum which tells visitors about Tono City and its rich folk culture, with exhibitions about local folklore and the work of Yanagita Kunio. The museum takes a deep dive into the area's folklore and legendary creatures and includes a video presentation about the much loved kappa. Built in a converted sake brewery at the center of town, the Tono Monogatarikan Museum uses multimedia to bring the local folklore from Yanagita Kunio's "The Legends of Tono" to life. The museum also includes Yangita's original house, which he had moved from Tokyo to Tono. During the Edo Period (1603-1867), Tono, with its location at the crossroads of the mountains and ocean, was a center of trade and was a castle town below the local Nambu Clan, This tiny, one-room Tono Jokamichi Museum introduces the town and clan's history with displays of weapons, armor, tools and other artifacts from the period. The Kappabuchi Pond is a small pool which lies along a stream. It is believed that Kappa spirits live in its calm waters. Visitors might see a local folklorist there fishing for them using cucumbers ( the kappas second favorite food after small children) as bait. Next to the pond is a small shrine dedicated to kappa. Women pray there for an abundance of breast milk for their children. Fukusenji Temple is a large temple complex built along a tree-covered hill consists of several large halls and a five story pagoda. The most important feature of the temple is its 17-meter-high carved wooden statue of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. The Gohyaku Rakan, a series of moss covered relief carvings which depict the Buddha's 500 disciples. Created over 200 years ago, the carvings were meant to pacify the souls of the thousands of villagers who died in widespread famines that hit the area in that time. Only 380 of the original 500 images survive and are on the stones along a stream bed in the mountains. The Tsuzukiishi Stone is a massive boulder set atop two smaller stones forming a pedestal. It is believed to have been set up 1000 years ago by the warrior monk Benke. The stone can be reached in a short hike through the forest.

Sekaiisannokakureyado Kajitsunomori

Sekaiisannokakureyado Kajitsunomori (2 nights)

Conveniently located, this hot spring accommodation stands between Hiraizumi and Ichinoseki mountains, far removed from your busy days.

Guests are able to enjoy a relaxing time in our large guest rooms, hidden away from the world.

Our 100% free-flowing hot spring waters heal your body and relax your soul.

All guest rooms include a private ensuite indoor bath.

Furthermore, you can enjoy the “season” from the fruits that can be picked up from our home garden, as well as organic vegetables.

Among our fresh fruits and vegetables are the unique luxury of “Kajitsu-no-Mori” (fruit of the forest) ; freshly seasonal fruits such as pears, peaches, prunes, kiwifruits, persimmons and blueberries.

Day 4

Private Guided Tour

Private Guided Tour

Meet your guide in the lobby of the hotel and set out for a private guided tour.

Hiraizumi

Hiraizumi

Almost 1000 years, Hiraizumi was the seat of the northern branch of the Fujiwaras, the most powerful clan in Japan. Controlling most of the country and the Emperor, the Fujiwaras turned the city into a seat of culture and beauty that almost equaled Kyoto.
In the late 12th century, the city was destroyed in a civil war between the Minamoto brothers, the winner would become Japan's first shogun.

The city and the area have never fully recovered but still holds many of all of Tohoku's cultural and historic sites.

Chusonji Temple

Chusonji Temple

Chusonji Temple, the city's most famous site, was first created in 850. It rose to importance during the Fujiwara period of rule and once housed dozens of buildings. Unfortunately, when the Fujiwaras lost power, the temple also went into decline. Most of the buildings from this era have disappeared. Only two are still in existence, but they are the most wonderful. One is Konjikido, which, like its more famous counterpart in Kyoto, Kikakuji, is completely covered in gold. It was built in 1124 and now is housed inside another building for its own protection. The other building that still stands from this historical is the Kyozo Hall, which at one time was used to hold sutras. It is not as gorgeous as Konjikido, but is older by almost 20 years. . Chusonji also has a number of other interesting buildings. The main hall and the treasure hall are well worth a visit. There is also a magnificent Noh theater stage. The temple's buildings are situated along a series of paths that go back about one kilometer into the forest.

Takadachi Gikeido

Takadachi Gikeido

Takadachi Gikeido is a memorial dedicated to Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Yoshitsune was the younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, Japan's first shogun.

After winning power in the country, Yoritomo saw his brother as a rival and sought to kill him. Yoshitsune fled to Hiraizumi and was, at first, protected by the Fujiwaras.

Yoritomo attacked and cornered Yoshitsune and his men, including the famous warrior-monk, Benkei, in his house at the top of Takadachi. While Benkei fought Yoritomo's warriors to a standstill ( He was so pierced with arrows and spears that they held him up and he died standing upright), Yoshitsune killed his family to protect them from falling into Yoritomo's hands and then opened his belly and died.

The story of Yoshitsune and Benkei is well-known and believed in Japan and Yoshitsune is more highly revered than his victorious brother.

Takadichi Gikeido, his memorial, marks the spot of Yoshitusne's death and holds a life-size wooden sculpture of Yoshitsune.
The view from the memorial inspired the haiku poet, Bassho, and continues to inspire visitors today.

Motsuji Temple

Motsuji Temple

Motsuji Temple, like Chusonji Temple, was once a large and important temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, that formerly consisted of numerous buildings. Motsuji went into decline with the fall of the Fujiwaras. Nowadays, Motsuji is best known for its garden, one of the few remaining pure land gardens in Japan. This style of garden was popular during the Heian Period of the 8th to the 12th centuries. The gardens were an attempt to create on earth the idea of attempting to recreate the pure land or "Buddhist paradise". As with all pure land gardens, Motsuji's garden is centered around a large pond. While moving around the pond's paths, visitors can see the foundations of the former Heian Period buildings and well imagine the former glory of the temple. Among the other temple buildings that are of interest are the temple main hall, the Hondo, the treasure house, which holds several important cultural and historic artifacts, and the Kaizando, which is a memorial to the Fujiwaras and former abbots.

Takkoku no Iwaya

Takkoku no Iwaya

Placed just outside the center of Hiraizumi, Takkoku no Iwaya is a temple built into the rock face of a cliff. It was built and dedicated to the god of warriors during the northern expansion and wars with the native Emishi people.

With other temple buildings located a short distance into the forest nearby, a small garden and pond are at the base of the cliff.

The Gorges

The Gorges

There are two gorges near Hiraizumi. To the west is Genbikei and to the east Geibikei. Genbikei Gorge stretches for 2 kilometers along the Iwai River. It is famous for its rough scenery and stunning stretches of rapids. Known as a national monument, the boulders and cliffs are to be enjoyed at various times of the year; ringed by cherry blossoms in April and May, azaleas and other flowers in the warmer months, and the multi-hued foliage of autumn. The sound of rushing water can be heard from the viewing platform and along the trails that follow both sides of the ravine. Horse carriage rides are also available April through October. Geibikei Gorge to the east is also about 2km long, bit it has been carved out by the Satetsu River, Its cliffs tower over the rushing waters. The gorge, whose name means lion's nose, offers a 90-minute boat ride on the river. At a large waterfall, visitors cab get out of the boat and try to get some luck by tossing a stone across the river into the mouth of a small cave. On the way upriver, the boatmen will point out areas of interest and on the way downriver, they will regal you with traditional river songs.

Day 5

Private Guided Tour

Private Guided Tour

Meet your guide in the lobby of the hotel and set out for a private guided tour.

Southern Sanriku Coast

Southern Sanriku Coast

The Sanriku Coast is a 300-kilomter-long stretch of Pacific Coast shoreline with bays, coves and cliffs, but few beaches. The area has been a site for tourists for centuries and, after the 2011 Tsunami, a large portion was made into a national park, the Sanriku Recovery National Park.

The earthquake and tsunami destroyed large portions of some coastal cities, almost wiped out numerous towns and villages, washed away thousands of buildings and took away almost 20,000 lives.

The rebuilding process began almost as soon as the waters receded, but will take many more years or decades. One of the best ways to aid the process is tourism.

Kesennuma

Kesennuma

Kesennuma, one of the bigger cities along the Sanriku Coast, is a large fishing town and one of the country's largest bonito and swordfish processors. Like most of the area, Kesennuma was badly damaged by the 2011 Tsunami which pushed many large fishing vessels inland and almost completely wiped out the fishing industry. The stranded ships were removed quickly except the 60-meter-long Kyotoku Maru 18. It stayed in its location until 2013, when the local people decided to have it taken apart and removed. The Kesennuma Fish Market' auction and sales can be seen by tourists from an observation deck. There are two parts of the market. One side is for smaller fish and other seafood and larger fish like tuna and shark. In the hills above the port is the Rias Ark Museum, a contemporary art and local history museum. The museum focuses on local history and culture with displays on the local fishing industry and daily life from times gone by, as well as artwork by local artists. Another exhibit displays items and photographs from the 2011 Tsunami. Mount Anbasan, a 250-meter-high hill north of the city, overlooks the port and sea. Several viewpoints are located from halfway up the hill to the summit. The Kesennuma City Memorial Museum, located on Kesennuma Peninsula, is the remains of a former high school that was damaged by the tsunami. The school was turned into an excellent museum which opened to the public in spring 2019. The tour begins with a video of what happened on March 11. Some of the school's rooms have been left as they were after the tsunami receded.

Ishinomaki

Ishinomaki

Ishinomaki is a large port city in Miyagi Prefecture. The city has a number of interesting attractions, and is known for being the hometown of the manga artist Ishinomori Shotaro. Of all the places along the coast, the highest death count and destruction of property was in Ishinomaki. The city's waterfront and residential neighborhoods were quickly covered by the waters of the tsunami. Located on a hilltop on the original site of Ishinomaki Castle, Hiyoriyama Park gives visitors the opportunity to see the affected areas and the scenery of the bay. During the tsunami, the hill served as a safe area for the survivors. The park is a great cherry-blossom viewing spot with almost 500 trees on its grounds. there is also a shrine where visitor can pay their respects to those who were lost that day. The Ishinomori Manga Museum is an art museum in Ishinomaki. The museum is used to show the work of the artist Ishinomori Shotaro, who drew the influential Cyborg 009 and Kamen Rider manga. The unique, egg shaped building houses A collection of statues, artworks and comics from his various series are displayed in the museum's unique egg-shaped building. The collection was damaged by the 2011 Tsunami and required extensive restoration before the museum was able to fully reopen in March 2013. Tashiro Island, known as 'Cat Island' is a tiny, barely-habited island off the coast of Ishinomaki. It takes about an hour from the city by ferry. On the island, visitors will find several hundred cats, which dwarf the number of humans on the island who look after them. The island is also known as "Manga Island" due to the manga themed camping resort on its southern tip. The resort consists of several cat shaped cottages that feature cat themed artwork by famous manga artists such as Ishinomori Shotaro.

Hotel Sakan Shoan

Hotel Sakan Shoan (2 nights)

Shouan, a boutique hotel at the promontory of Matsushima-one of the top 3 national scenery, with only eleven rooms. The location is free from the hustle and bustle of sightseeing spots.

A silent time to gaze at the floating islands on the sea and listen to the wave and birds.

Encountering beautiful pictures and antiques as if a visit to an art museum.

We keep in mind not to disturb our guests-

We only pay visits to your room for the first greeting, serving meals and prepare the bedding.

All are for your extraordinary and the utmost enjoyable staying experience.

Day 6

Private Guided Tour

Private Guided Tour

Meet your guide in the lobby of the hotel and set out for a private guided tour.

Matsushima Town

Matsushima Town

Matsushima Town holds many interesting sites. Zuiganji is one of the Tohoku Region's most famous and prominent Zen temples. It is famous for its gorgeous gold-covered and painted sliding doors. Zuiganji was founded in 828 as a Tendai Buddhist temple, but was converted into a Zen temple during the Kamakura Period (1192-1333). After centuries of neglect, the temple regained its glory when it was chosen by the daimyo Date Masamune as his family temple in 1609. The path to the temple's main hall follows a long, straight way flanked by cedar trees (many were damaged by the salt from the tsunami of 2011 tsunami and had to be taken down). A different trail moves off the main path and moves passed a number of meditation caves that were used in the past. .The Main Hall is at the end of the approach trail. It is entered and follows a circular path through the complex to see the various rooms with well-known paintings on the sliding doors. Attached to the hall is the Kuri, a kitchen where the meals were prepared in the past. Near the Kuri is the Seiryuden, also known as Zuiganji Art Museum. The museum displays the temple's treasures and heirlooms of the Date Clan, including a full-sized wooden carving of the daimyo, Date Masamune, in his armor. Entsuin Temple was built in the 17th century to house the mausoleum of Date Mitsumune. The temple was built for mourning and is devoted to the goddess of mercy. . In the rear of temple grounds is the mausoleum. In the mausoleum is a statue of Mitsumune on a white horse surrounded by his loyal followers. These men committed suicide upon his death. The interior is decorated in gold leaf and ornate paintings. The paintings show small Western symbols of spades, hearts, diamonds, crosses and the oldest image of a rose in Japan. These symbols were included, because the Dates Clan were interested in Christianity and Western technology. There are various gardens on the grounds, including a moss and maple garden with a uniquely shaped pond, a Western rose garden, a moss and rock garden and a cedar grove planted as a meditative space. Kanrantei is a tea house originally constructed in Kyoto by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the distinctive Momoyama style. Toyotomi gave it to Date Masamune for his service. It was eventually moved to its location overlooking Matsushima Bay. The tea house has two rooms, each with magnificent golden-covered doors. Historically, the rooms were used to house the wives of daimyo, princesses on journeys and select representatives of the shogun. Now visitors can enjoy admire the space. In the rear of the tea house is the Matsushima Museum which contains armor, weapons, tools and other relics of the feudal times. Godaido, built in 807, is a small temple on a small island next to the pier. Thanks to its location, it is the symbol of Matsushima. Godaido holds five statues which were enshrined by the same priest who founded the nearby Zuiganji. The statues are displayed only once every 33 years and were last displayed in 2006. The present building is a 1604 reconstruction built by Date Masamune. The hall's exterior is carved with the twelve animals of the lunar calendar with three on each side.

Matsushima

Matsushima

Located outside of Sendai, Matsushima is famous for its bay, which is filled with many small islands covered in pine trees. It is known as one of Japan's three most scenic views. The small town is also home to one of Japan's most important Zen temples, Zuiganji. As with the rest of the Sanriku Coast, Matsushima was hit by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. The area was saved from major damage, because of the islands in the bay. The bay has over 200 small islands covered by conifers. The best way to see the bay is by cruise. There are many companies that offer tours of the bay. There are 2 islands that can be reached by bridges: Oshima and Fukuura. Oshima is close to Matsushima Pier and can be accessed by a short bridge free of charge. The island has some very nice, short walks. There are multiple small shrines and viewpoints spread all over the island. More interestingly are the meditation caves that were once used by Buddhist monks who came to the island to escape the mainland world. Fukuura Island is reached by a 252-meter-long bridge that costs 200 yen to cross. There is little to do on Fukuura other than looking at plants and seeing views of the bay. Fukuura is a botanical garden with a nice system network of walking trails. Visitors can cover the whole island in 60 minutes at a pleasant pace.

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