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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, ...


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 people are  less open to outsiders, yet are warm on the outside and suspicious of people they don't know which cannot be concealed with the least bit of feigness.   In other words, they are hospitable in a suspicious way and you can sense it.  The exact opposite in Iwate where the country folk are very warm and inviting and the city folk are strange and indifferent.

As I was sitting in a Starbucks in the heart of Morioka at around noon  I quickly noticed that  Moriokans are definitely more conservative and plain looking, like a dry glass of water without the ice.    In Japanese the expression that would best describe Moriokan women in particular would be seisokirei, a term loosely used in Japanese to imply a woman that's  plain, clean and simply beautiful.    Faces are all lightly made up.  Modest wear.   Overall pleasant.   I never notice the men.    At least the people here greet unlike in Tokyo, especially the milque-toast young types.   

Morioka is a thoughtfully planned out city.   There're elevators and pedestrian strips at just about every major crosswalk.   Plenty of maps and easy to read street signs that are in English and Japanese.  Wide sidewalks, plenty of ATMs and convenience stores, and efficient mass transit network.  It's an alarmingly quiet city to be a capital.   The police are incredibly either overweight or over aged and probably have nothing to do all day long.    There is a charm here that can definitely be felt and appreciated if you take some time and soak it all in, but not so much in Morioka, which is a lot like what Tokyo used to be 60 years ago I think; austere.     Morioka does not reflect the soul of Iwate.    It's a city made for elderly with a few very nice little parks and sake shops.   

In my next post I will leave Morioka to re-explore the countryside.

1 comment:

  1. Starbucks shit! Every where.. They using insects for coffe colouring.



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