Friday, December 19, 2008

Iwate Bus Tous

A group in Morioka organized a sightseeing bus trip around Iwate that Tyler and I went on. The trip was primarily spent in Tono, dubbed “The Town of Fairy-tales”. Tono is about an hour and a half south of Morioka (3 hours south of Ichinohe). The first place that we stopped at was Rokondo cave. This is home to “Japan’s largest waterfall in a cave”. We laughed too, many places around us are “famous” for something whether it’s sake (a type alcohol), an onsen, a fruit or vegetable, a flower, or any combination of each. The cave was pretty enjoyable, but it was a bit treacherous at times. This cave would probably not be a tourist attraction in the states because it had many rocks you have to duck under and slippery rocks to walk on. With paid admission to the cave, you are given a rain coat, helmet, and a pair of goulashes to use. Our tour guide described the cave as being similar to the one in “The Goonies” movie. That is actually a pretty accurate comparison minus Chunk running behind the gang with a clumsy cyclops. There was even a bit of a treasure in the cave. About 2/3 of the way through, there is a golden (maybe not real gold) statue/shrine (look for it in the pictures). At the end ofthe cave was the famed waterfall. Naturally, I loved the cave. Tyler did not.

Next stop: Lunch! We ate a very Japanese lunch at a restaurant next to Denshoen Park (more about Denshoen shortly). The lunch looked a little scary at first (it had teeth, look at the pictures) but it was really good. Tyler even enjoyed it. We walked around after lunch. We first walked to Jokenji Temple and the “famous” stream called the “Kappa Buchi” that the “Kappa” monster lives in. The Kappa is a supposed monster that, similar to big foot, is perceived in various forms. Some describe it as a reptile/lizard creature that is as tall as a child, some describe it as being more like a ninja turtle, and so on. A few of the consistent details are: they have webbed toes and fingers, they have a hole in their head that they fill with water so that they can leave the water, they love cucumbers, and they are very polite. Because the Kappas follow japanese etiquette, you can easily defeat a Kappa by bowing to it. When you bow, the Kappa will also bow, but the water in his head will spill out and he will die or be crippled. Fortunately, we did not see any Kappas. You can read more about kappas on Wikipedia. We then walked back to Denshoen Park. Denshoen Park has a beautiful garden and an old group of buildings that have thatched roofs. There was also a traditional painter, handpainting some orniments for the tourists to buy.

The next place we stopped was Fukusenji Temple. This temple is famed for having Japans largest wooden statue. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take photographs of the statue, so I don’t have any pictures of it. This traditional temples in the pictures are from the Fukusenji Temple complex.

We finished our bus tour at Edel Wine Winery. We received a walking tour of the company’s facilities. We received a brief history of the company and we heard about all of the awards that it has received from all over the world. We saw a stagnant factory with fermenting vats and barrels filled with wines that are not scheduled to be opened for years. Most importantly, we were given samples of all the wines. This was the perfect end to a day of sightseeing and traveling.

The photos from our bus trip are posted on Flickr.

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