Known as the place of ‘Pure Land Buddhism’ thanks to its magnificent ‘Pure Land Garden’, Hiraizumi is home to the Motsu-Ji Temple, where on the 4th Sunday in May, the Motsuji Gokusui No En takes place. This singular poetry reading recreates the elegant amusement that first originated in the 8th century. The practice involves a Shinto priest who places a small cup of sake into a sacred stream while poets sit on the lawn and write poetry. Originally, virgin princesses dressed in kimonos would guide the sake along the stream down to the poets; at which point the poets would drink the sake and read out their poem. Today the event is only a recreation since noble titles were abolished after WWII. Expect to see the crème de la crème of Japanese society while visiting this sacred spot.
Built in 850AD, Chuson-Ji Temple also forms part of UNESCO’s historic monuments designation at Hiraizumi. The site is home to the picturesque Takkokui Wa Yabishamondo Temple which is elegantly nestled on the side of a rock formation.
Hachimantai receives the most snowfall out of anywhere, not just in Japan, but the world. On a winter’s day, the snow can pile up to 30 feet high. The area is famed in Japan as a must see for anyone dreaming of snow-covered vistas cloaked in clear bright blue skies. Some believe it’s the way in which the sun’s rays shine and reflect off the canyons of snow during the winter months at this latitude, in this corner of the world, that produces a sort of snow globe effect along with the crisp clear mountain air.
Located in Iraizumi town, Ryusendo Caves, or Dragon Stream Caves, are perfectly lit in an array of rainbow LED lights that also serve to illuminate the Dragon Stream, through which runs some of the world’s purest underground water. The final lake at the end of the stream is over 98m deep with crystal clear clarity! While at the caves, you can also visit the peaceful bats that call the caves home; these bats are surprisingly tame and friendly, and, how should we put it simply, well, kawaii!
Known for its abundance of hot springs, sentōs and luxury bathhouses, Hanamaki is also well-known for its micro-climate wine known as Edel Wine. The town hosts an annual Wine Festival in September. Other sites to check out include: The Gohyaku Rakan; Unedori-Sama Shrine; Kamaishi Daikannon; The Tono Furusato Village; Nambu Magariya; And the Geibikei Cruise.