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Showing posts from January, 2012


The best way to travel around this far up north in  winter is by car.   JR Morioka Station, a major Hub for many connections through-out Tohoku, could be a good option if you have a lot of time on your hands and want to see one or two really good places by rail, like Koiwai Farms for example.   However, if you want to really explore more of Iwate's interior, and do not like long waits between transfers and less frequent train service then the car is the obvious choice, especially now since the Tohoku Expressway is free from Sendai to Hachinohe.    I chose Morioka Station as my base point because I wanted to ride the Hayabusa Shinkansen up there from Tokyo, and then return to Tokyo on Gran Class.    There are other less expensive alternative base points, like Miyagi or Sendai  via the Hayate Shinkansen.    Another note:  Morioka is well within 200km of Aomori, Akita and Sendai respectively, so an easy day trip to either of those prefectures is possible by train or car.

After renting…

Disaster Tourism

Disaster Tourism

I was there, standing on the Imaizumi Bridge on highway 19 pondering whether or not I should drive two hours to the coast of Kesennuma.    Maybe I could've  worn  a ' pray for Japan' T-shirt, or delivered a box of food or helped out with the relief effort over there.    I could've done those things, but sometimes I wonder how much of a good thing can actually be a bad thing, like when world renowned television evangelist Billy Graham flew several tons of food to some of the hardest hit tsunami ravaged areas.    I clearly remember reports coming out that most of the food items were rejected or totally unused or thrown out.   Corn flakes and pop tarts weren't exactly a hit with the victims.   I think it's because Japanese tend to be a self contained people, only needing what is absolutely essential for life and nothing more.   I thought about that.   Sometimes too much charity from outside sources  can be downright embarrassing, especially when lo…


So what about Iwate...?   A place I've been through a few times already.   This time  around I spent a week up there taking in the surrounding areas, and seeing the prefecture from a slower pace.    Here's a brief write up on a previous trip through here via the Akita Komachi express bound for Iwate

Morioka, the capital city of Iwate,  is  very conservative, unlike its rural towns where people are a bit warmer.   You can sense the conviviality in the air more in the rural areas than in Morioka city.   It's not a bad thing though.   Just takes a little getting used to.   The capital itself is rudimentary with no unique skyline other than when you're standing on the 14th floor of the Route Inn Hotel where you command the best view of Mount Iwaki and the JR Morioka Station.  It's quite gorgeous at dusk actually.     In comparison, North American cities, especially capitals, are livelier and people tend to be more open and less conservative whereas in the country peop…


After sumo, refreshments in a traditional setting is definitely in the works. コクキドウ or ko-ku-ki-do is a traditional Japanese style tea house next door to the sumo arena.   After six beers and yakitori I needed to refresh my palate with sesame cream soft ice cream, fruit, and some hot barley tea.

The dessert is called Anmitsu, and has been around for decades.  It's got red azuki beans, jelly, fruit, and sometimes ice cream.   You pour black sesame sugar over it to give it texture.  Enjoy.  When finished wash it all down with hot barley tea.

If you need a little more, then order the coffee.  Japan's coffee culture is on the same level as Europe now and is no longer playing catch up.  Trust me.  Not to include espresso, though.  Still have a ways to go.

Directions are really simple.   Right near the Ryogoku Station near the main street.  Lovely Jukujo are there to assist you.

Sumo Excitement...!

PDF on sumo. The file can be enlarged for easier reading. Lots of commentary and pictures. Enjoy. Retweet if you find it interesting. Thanks again. Also, I recommend reading another entry post here.

Tokyo is....?

PDF on downtown Tokyo and the urbanization of northeastern Sumida Ward's park and gardens.

Tokyo Memorial Hall

An essay written in PDF form about the historic significance of Tokyo's Memorial Hall and the aftermath of destruction caused by U.S. Forces.

Memorial Hall