Iwate Prefecture’s Kamaishi City is one of the hosts for the Rugby World Cup 2019. The area is full of beautiful and historic sites for you to see and experience, but of special note are their two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites are well worth the trip on their own merit for anyone interested in Buddhism or industrial history, so are highly recommending for anyone in the area for the matches.
The Cultural Heritage of Hiraizumi was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011. This historic city of Iwate is home to ruins that once served as the government of the northern realm of Japan during the Heian period (8th-12th centuries.) For a vibrant but short 100 years, Hiraizumi existed as a small kingdom in present-day Iwate Prefecture and its prosperity and grandeur rivalled that of even Kyoto. Its founder, Lord Kiyohira of the Oshu-Fujiwara clan, grew up in a land ravaged by war, thus strived to make Hiraizumi a place of peace for all. He did this according to the tenets of Pure Land Buddhism, and indeed Hiraizumi's temples and gardens were built as a representation of the Buddhist “Heaven on earth”. The World Heritage Site of Hiraizumi is comprised of five sites: Chuson-ji Temple, Motsu-ji Temple, Kanjizaio-in Ato, Muryoko-in Ato and the sacred Mount Kinkeisan.
Chuson-ji Temple is home to a the radiant golden Buddhist altar called Konjikido. Konjikido was built around 800 years ago, making it one of the oldest structures of its kind in the entire world. The altar is covered in gold leaf and mother-of-pearl inlays, and it is through Konjikido that Iwate Prefecture has earnt the name "The Golden Land".
Motsu-ji Temple is home to the best example of a Buddhist Pure Land Garden in Japan, both due to its beauty and because few others remain. It was once a grand complex, home to more than forty halls and pagodas, and more than five hundred monks' quarters. The central garden that surrounds the “Oizumigaike pond” exemplifies the elegance of this ancient garden design and technique.
All that remains of this temple are a few foundation stones and the remains of the ponds, as the surrounding area has been almost completely transformed into paddy fields. This is thought to be the final form of the Buddhist Pure Land gardens that were developed in Hiraizumi, as it represents the Buddhist Pure Land in unison with the mountains in the background.
When Japan entered the period known as the “Meiji Period (1868-1912)”, there was a great push to industrialise to western standards. Recognized as the oldest western-style blast furnace in Japan, the Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site was registered on the World Heritage List as one of the “Sites of Japan's Meiji Industrial Revolution” in 2015.
If you are visiting the Iwate Prefecture to see the Rugby World Cup 2019, you should know that no trip to here is complete without tasting the local food! Authentic local cuisine is an integral part of any culture. Thanks to the Iwate’s enormous land area (the second largest prefecture in Japan after Hokkaido) and its rich natural environment, the prefecture is home to a wide selection of great, fresh foods. Some of Iwate Prefecture's produce includes the A-ranked rice “Gin no Shizuku”, and famous Wagyu beef called “Maesawa beef”. There is also a great variety of traditional noodles and mochi (rice cake) dishes on offer. We hope we can help visitors better understand Iwate Prefectures’s food culture, so you can try some of the local culinary delights, and enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Wanko Soba Noodles are a famous local dish available only in Iwate. Born out of a tradition of hospitality, Wanko Soba involves servers who keep giving you bite-sized portions of noodles until you’ve had your fill. The quicker you gulp down your soba noodles, the quicker you get a refill!
Mochi is a sweet dessert made of pounded rice, and is available throughout Japan. However, in Ichinoseki City of Iwate Prefecture, they serve a special full-course mochi menu. Guests are served mochi in lacquerware bowls, topped with things like kinako (toasted soy flour), azuki (red bean paste), sesame, small shrimp, and zunda (mashed soy beans). Mochi shops and restaurants in Ichinoseki and Hiraizumi have joined to form the “Ichinoseki-Hiraizumi Mochi Road” to promote the local mochi culture, and they offer traditional meals as well as new recipes. This unique “mochi culture” is only available in southern Iwate Prefecture.
While you are in Kamaishi City for the Rugby World Cup game, you also won’t want to miss the opportunity to try the cities local food as well. Kamaishi City is known for its Kamaishi-style of ramen noodles, and its fishing industries and proximity to the ocean means there’s a large variety of fresh seafood on offer too. Kamaishi City is a wonderful place to try sushi or rice topped with freshly-caught fish and shellfish. What trip to Japan would be complete without some fresh sushi!
Kamaishi Ramen is known for its extra thin noodles, and a light, soy sauce-based soup. Each restaurant offers its own unique take on the dish.
The Sanriku Coast is known as one of the world’s best fishing areas, which means that Kamaishi is full of restaurants serving top quality, fresh seafood. It is particularly renowned for its sizable oysters (kaki, ) Japanese scallops (hotate,) sea urchin (uni,) and sea pineapple (hoya.)
Kamaishi City is proud to be one of the hosts for Rugby World Cup 2019. The city is located on the “Sanriku Coast” in the Iwate Prefecture of northeastern Japan. The Sanriku coast is blessed with its stunning natural sawtooth-shaped coastline, and is known for its fishing industry and breathtaking coastal scenery.
Ohakozaki is a picturesque spot on the tip of the Hakozaki Peninsula. Ohakozaki overlooks the great “Senjojiki” to the south, a geological formation of thousands of rocks. Senjojiki was created through erosion of rocks by the powerful and constant battering of waves of the Pacific Ocean. You will surely feel the power of nature as you gaze upon it. From Ohakozaki we can also see three beautiful bays, Otsuchi Bay and Yamada Bay to the north, and Kamaishi Bay to the south.
Mount Goyo is the mountain closest to the Pacific Ocean in the Iwate Prefecture. Standing at 1,351 meters tall, it offers magnificent views overlooking the jagged Sanriku Coast. Mount Goyo also had an important role in the past, as it supplied the local economy with an abundance of Japanese cypress and other lumber. The mountain is designated as a prefectural park now, so it offers many opportunities to see unspoiled forests, Japanese rhododendrons, and sometimes even Japanese monkeys and deers in their wild habitat. Outdoor lovers should check out the 2-hour trail to the peak, and be rewarded with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
Each region of Japan has its own unique traditions and culture, from foods to festivals, to crafts and music. Iwate Prefecture is most famous for its renowned traditional crafts, which are created with years of training and a strong pride by local artisans. These skills have been passed down for generations, giving the products of Iwate Prefecture a strong unique personality.
One of the most famous crafts of Iwate is undoubtedly its Nambu Cast Ironware. Kettles and teapots forged in this style are highly regarded both domestically and abroad, especially in Europe and US. In the middle of the 17th century, the Northern part of Iwate Prefecture, was ruled by the Nambu clan. With the rich natural resources of the land at their disposal, along with the support of the leaders of the domain, they sought to make Nambu Cast Ironware the specialty of the area. Their popularity spread and this history resulted in these iron pieces being certified as a “Traditional Craft of Japan” in 1975.
Nambu Cast Ironware is both chic and practical. Their design is simple and strong, yet distinct. The insides of the kettles and teapots are burned over a charcoal fire for about an hour to oxidize and coat the surface to prevent rust, giving them a long life with proper care. Cafes in France and Belgium first began using Nambu Cast Iron kettles, and this exposure to their quality led to a growing demand for this product throughout Europe and US.
Hidehira-nuri Lacquerware is another traditional craft of the Iwate region. With over a millennia of history intertwined with the historical sites in Iwate, Hidehira-nuri Lacquerware is a local pride. The Lord Hidehira of the Fujiwara clan, which ruled over southern Iwate for around a century, invited craftsmen from Kyoto in the 1100’s to produce a new type of lacquerware (wooden bowls and utensils coated with sap from the lacquer tree). Even today, these Hidehira-nuri style pieces are highly prized by tea ceremony masters’ due to their history and beauty.
Hidehira-nuri is produced in four steps. First, wood from the trees of Japanese horse chestnut or Japanese zelkova are carefully dried out, then formed into bowls and utensils. The first coat of the lacquer is applied to the base wood and then polished to form a foundation. After that, more lacquer is applied in additional layers. Finally, a gold leaf decal is applied to complete the design. Check out these traditional crafts when you visit Iwate Prefecture for the Rugby World Cup 2019, they surely will make a unique and top quality souvenir.
Situated just 2.5 hours from Tokyo by the bullet train, Iwate Prefecture is located on the Pacific Coast of the northeastern region of Japan known as the Tohoku region. Here lies a great example of "deep Japan," thanks to the friendly, warmhearted people of the countryside. The towns and cities found in the Tohoku region are rich with history, and the natural beauty is breathtaking to behold. With its jagged coastline there are many bays and inlets to be explored, not to mention the lush, verdant mountains as far as the eye can see.
Mt. Iwate is a conically-shaped volcano that offers one of the best views in the entire Tohoku area. It is often referred to as the “Nambu Fuji,” or “Mt. Fuji of the North,” due to its resemblance to Japan's most famous mountain, Mt. Fuji. The beautiful mountain watches over the nearby Morioka City, the capital of Iwate Prefecture. From here you can challenge yourself to make the hike to the top, albeit the 21km round trip means you will need to get an early start!
Flowing from the north to the south of Iwate Prefecture is the powerful Kitakami River. The Kitakami River is the fourth largest river of Japan and the largest in the Tohoku region. Historically it served as an important transportation route during the feudal periods. In the Autumn, you just might catch a glimpse of the salmon swimming upstream to lay their eggs!
It usually takes until around November for the leaves to turn their brilliant shades of scarlet and gold in the Tohoku region. However, there are two great spots for autumn leave viewing that peak a little earlier, from around September to October. Mount Kurikoma, a volcano which has also been chosen as one of Japan’s best 200 mountains, and the “Hachimantai Aspite” Line, a 27-km mountain road that runs through the “Towada-Hachimantai National Park”. Both are well-known and popular amongst tourists, and make a perfect spot to enjoy the change in seasons a little earlier during the Rugby World Cup 2019 (September 20 through November 2.)
Nambu Cast Ironware is one of the most well-known of Iwate’s local crafts, and is recognised as a Traditional Craftwork of Japan. These iron pots and other kitchen utensils are growing popular all over the world. Picking up some Nambu Cast Ironware will make a souvenir of such quality that you could even pass it down to the children one day!
Kamaishi City is known as the city of iron, fishing, and rugby. What a tough mix! It is known as the birthplace of Japan’s modern steelmaking industry, and has been producing iron ore since the late 19th century. Due to its location aside the Pacific Ocean, it also has a long and proud fishing industry. As for the rugby, many years ago the local rugby team, sponsored by Nippon Steel, was ranked as the top amateur team in Japan for seven years running. That team has evolved into what is now the Kamaishi Seawaves. This history earnt Kamashi city its reputation for raising strong rugby players and a love for the sport.
The Kamaishi Daikannon is a large statue of the Buddhist deity of mercy, that has watched over fishermen and protected the oceans of the Kamaishi peninsula since the 1970’s. Visitors can climb the stairs on the inside of the statue and look out from her forehead at a spectacular view of the Kamaishi bay.
The "Kamaishi Hikifune Festival” is held every year during the third week of October. The festival presents a flotilla of boats adorned with colorful flags setting out into the bay. During the festival there are also spectacular performances of the “tora-mai” (tiger dance) which take place throughout the city. As the Kamaishi Hikifune Festival will take place during the same period as the Rugby World Cup in 2019, visitors to the matches have an excellent chance to witness this colorful festival. Make sure to experiencing the tiger dances and departure of the boats in Kamaishi City!