JSPS Quarterly
No.62 2017 Winter

Introducing Japan: Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture

Dr. Hannah Ruth Windley

 on the map of Japan

I am only six months in to my JSPS fellowship, but I already feel at home here in Morioka City, the capital of Iwate Prefecture. Morioka is a peaceful and attractive city, about two and a half hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train.

                              Mount Iwate

The Nakatsugawa River runs through the heart of Morioka, one of three rivers that join in the center of the city. Every autumn, salmon swim up here to spawn! You can also marvel at the impressive and picturesque active volcano Mount Iwate at a height of 2,038 meters above sea level. I recently hiked to the top and it was spectacular!

Morioka Castle Ruins Park is one of my favorite places in Morioka. It is an island of tranquility, surrounded by massive stone walls in the middle of the city. It is one of the first places I take visitors. There are a few other key attractions in Morioka, including its famous wanko soba, a soba noodle eating challenge that involves eating as many small bowls of these delicious noodles as you can. My current record is 54! Also, luckily for me, Iwate is well known for the production of high-quality fruit and vegetables and there are daily markets in Morioka that showcase this produce.

                    Chagu Chagu Umakko Horse Festival

Prior to my fellowship, I had visited Japan several times as a tourist, drawn to its striking mountains and unique culture. Living and working here is a very different experience and one I will remember forever.

                              At a local vegetable market

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JSPS Quarterly No.62 2017