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August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...


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 a mazda 4WD, I quickly jumped on the Tohoku Expressway south bound for Ichinoseki,   I stopped over at a road station called the Shiwa Service area where I tried JaJamen noodles, one of the three great noodles of Iwate.   The noodles are similar to udon but flat with a miso topping.   Not a bad dish.  After finishing up with some hot tea, which was great by the way because it was really cold outside, I got back on the road to Ichinoseki.

But why Ichinoseki..?  Why head down south...?   Because  it's quite famous for a few great  places, but if I had to choose one place to visit  then I'd highly recommend the Geibi Gorge, especially in winter, where you can witness beautiful  snow covered Chinese landscape vistas from a  wooden gondola.    Almost surreal.  

Something about being seranaded by a boat captain an ancient tune from his womb, and  weather worn face  while navigating his way down a narrow waterway replete with flora and carps, and these huge soaring cliffs reaching upwards to 60 meters in the backdrop.     If you're lucky and can go there on a heavy snow day you will be in for a real epic experience. 

The whole boat trip including the short break you get is about 90 minutes.    1500 yen per person.  

 Boats depart ever hour on the hour.   You can pick up a lunch box and some sake for the trip. In the summer and spring the canopies come off.

The geological relavance is only significant for those who understand geology.   People who come to Geibi do so to absorb the abundant natural beauty and wonder of Iwate's backcountry.     This is an ancient gorge and a masterpiece in and of itself.    I love winters in Japan!  


  1. That is an awesome scene. I have only been there in the late summer. How cold was it?

  2. @sixmats,

    Thanks for the comment. It was about minus 4C.... The only thing is you had to sit on tatami. The canopy was a slight draw back, but I understand why they use them.

  3. いくつかの良い情報around.Goodジョブを見るのは嬉しい!


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  5. They are very good boats very ancient.



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