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Morioka in a nutshell

Morioka is in Iwate, a prefecture in the north of Japan that also hosts the candidate site for the ILC. As prefectural capital, Morioka is home to around 300,000 people. The area boasts a long history, a booming craft culture, and charming old buildings left from its time as a castle town. The feudal castle of Morioka was torn down in the 19th century, but its castle foundations remain as a beautiful park.

The city center is fairly walkable but also has good bus service. Morioka is also your hub to the rest of Iwate and northern Tohoku via Morioka Station and the JR East train lines.

morioka-eki-bigMorioka Station

The heart of it all. Morioka Station is around two hours away from Tokyo Station via the shinkansen (bullet train). Around the station are many hotels and eateries, and a shopping mall (complete with souvenir shops) is adjacent to the station. The station will be your hub while in Iwate. There are large bus terminals directly outside both the east and west exits from which you can travel around the city.

Walking Filled-100Touring Morioka

Morioka is a very walkable city, with many historical sights and things-to-do within a twenty minute radius of the station. You can use the following as a guide, but also know that you can reach many of these places with the Dendenmushi loop bus ? all trips are 100 yen! (see the English map here)


morioka-ekiMorioka Station

Morioka Eki

Lots of shops, hotels, and restaurants. You can take the train to other parts of Iwate and of Tohoku.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Morioka Eki Higashi Guchi

kaiunbashi3Kaiun Bridge


From this bridge, you’ll get a great view of the Kitakami River and Mount Iwate. A nice spot for pictures!

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Kaiunbashi

odoriOdori Street


Odori Street is “Main Street”, and there are a lot of shops, restaurants, and other facilities in this area.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Yanagishindo, Saien Kawatoku Mae, Morioka Joato Koen

morioka-castle-parkMorioka Castle Site Park

Morioka Joato Koen

Morioka Castle Site Park is a gorgeous park with granite stone walls left from the castle that used to exist here. Enjoy a nice stroll through the park, then also visit the Morioka History and Culture Museum near the river.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Morioka Joato Koen

culturemuseumMorioka History and Culture Museum

Morioka Rekishi Bunkakan

Learn about the various customs and festivals that are held in Morioka throughout the year on the first floor of this museum. The 2 floor has more info, but requires an admission fee.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Morioka Joato Koen

ishiwarizakuraRock Splitting Cherry Tree


An old tree grows out of a massive rock outside of the Morioka District Courthouse. This is a testament of the power of nature, and a symbol of the tenacity of the Iwate people. In December, the tree will be supported by a number of ropes and poles in order to keep it strong during the winter.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Iwate Idai Mae, Kencho Shiyakusho Mae

hoonjiHoonji Temple


For those who’d like a long walk. (From the castle park, it’s a 15 minute walk to get to Hoonji.) This temple is home to the 500 statues of Buddhist disciples. Each statue has its own personality, and they say there are statues of even Marco Polo and Kublai Khan.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Honchodori Icchome

mitsuishiMitsuishi Shrine

Mitsuishi Jinja

The namesake of Iwate, which means “Rock Hand” in Japanese. Three large rocks stand in the middle of the grounds, which are said to bear the handprint of a mischievous ogre. Can you find it?

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Honchodori Icchome

nakatsuNakatsu River


The perfect place for a leisurely stroll by the river. You’ll pass by a small cafe or two, some shops, and the historic old Iwate Bank headquarters, designed by the same architects who designed Tokyo Station. Shopping and bus stops are also available right by the bank.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Morioka Bus Center

sakanachoSakanacho Shopping District

Sakanacho Shotengai

A shopping area beloved by locals. You’ll find pottery, tea, Japanese sweets, books, and a wealth of other things to buy in this area.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Morioka Bus Center

buscenterMorioka Bus Center

Morioka Basu Senta

You can use these buses to get back to Morioka Station, or venture further out into Iwate. (Information as of July 2016)

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Morioka Bus Center

hachimanchoHachimancho Area


This street leads up to the Hachimangu Shrine (don’t miss the huge red gates!) and has a number of shops that sell Morioka craft goods and local sake.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Morioka Bus Center

hachimanguMorioka Hachimangu Shrine

Morioka Hachimangu

A large Shinto Shrine with massive red gates. Pray for good luck here.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Morioka Bus Center

natayacho2Natayacho Historic Area


A grouping of machiya, which are old dwellings built when Morioka Castle was still standing. There is also a historical center talking about the machiya and the history of the city.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Saien Kawatoku Mae

agyon2Morioka Tenmangu Shrine

Morioka Tenmangu

Another large Shinto Shrine. It’s a bit of a hike to get here, but they say that the god of studying resides here. Also famous for its rather peculiar guard-dog statues.

Closest Dendenmushi stop: Morioka Bus Center


DenDen Mushi, the Morioka Loop Bus

Food-104Morioka Cuisine

Of course, Morioka is a place where you can try many different types of Japanese food, from ramen, sushi, sukiyaki, and more. But there are also three noodle dishes unique to Morioka that you won’t want to miss!

wankosobaWanko Soba

All-you-can-eat soba noodles. Your waitress will serve you bowl after bowl of bite-sized noodle portions, and will stack up the bowls so you’ll know how much you ate!

jajamenMorioka Jajamen

Flat noodles served with cucumbers and a meat & miso sauce. The chef who created the dish first tried zhajiangmian while he was in China, and Jajamen is what he came up with when he tried to make a version back home in Morioka.

reimenMorioka Reimen

Inspired from Korean naengmyeon noodles, reimen are springy noodles served in a chilled kimchi broth. Refreshing and spicy.

Bus-104Attractions on the outskirts of Morioka

tsunagiTsunagi Hot Springs

Try Japan’s famous hot springs in Tsunagi, a hot springs village (onsen-kyo) about 30 minutes outside of Morioka’s city center. Bathe in water with a number of healing properties ? some facilities even have rotenburo, or outdoor baths. Soak in luxury while you breathe in the fresh December air!

nanbuMorioka Handicrafts Village

Cast iron kettles. Indigo-dyed fabrics. Morioka has a rich culture of handmade crafts, and you can stroll through this park to see craftsmen working on their products. You can also try making crafts yourself! (Reservation are required for craft workshops)

pref museumIwate Prefectural Museum

A museum dedicated to all things Iwate. Learn about history, geology, plant and animal life, and more. Don’t miss the room where you can try on samurai armor!