For my first Go!Go!Tohoku!! tour, I chose to visit Iwate prefecture. Iwate is a sparsely populated, very natural place where you can feel the charm of a numerous different attractions. We set out from Sendai Station early in the morning. Our first stop was “Gedo Highland Ski Resort”—Yes! We are going to on our first ski of the season in 2017!
The ski resort has free shuttle bus from Kitakami station to the ski field. This is the official website of the ski resort and here you can find all the information you need. I rented skis, ski-wear and boots from the ski resort. Including the cost of lift tickets, it cost me about 11000 yen overall. Here’s the timetable of the shuttle bus for your reference.
Hitting the slopes was amazing – a beautiful view with the white snow of the ski field shining under the sunshine. I was a little surprised about how much speed I picked up! I fell many times on the snow. Since it was very soft powder-snow I didn’t hurt at all! This time I just picked up some basic skiing skills and got some good experience – next time maybe I can really have some Fast & Furious fun!
We had a really great time and headed back to the hotel in the afternoon. We reserved the Onsen hotel in Hanamaki. We took the shuttle bus back to Kitakami station and then took the train to Shin-hanamaki station. There we took another shuttle bus of the hotel and arrived at about 5:00pm. The room was very Japanese style!
The most amazing thing was the Onsen part! Senshukaku Hot Spring-Hanamaki Hot Spring-Koyo Hot Spring♨️Including both indoor and open-air hot springs. Having enjoyed them one by one, feeling super-comfortable, my aching body was cured right away! Outdoor hot springs are most recommended – with views right in front of the mountain that would become even more beautiful with snowfall. We reserved a lovely tatami room. There were also buffet meals made with local vegetables and produce.
This hotel was only 15000 yen for 2 people, including access to the onsen and 2 massive meals! Very economical for travelers!! I really recommend this if you plan to travel in Iwate, especially in the hanamaki onsen area.
We had a good sleep and started our second day trip in Iwate. We planned to go visit Chusonji temple and Geibikei gorge. The temple is in Hiraizumi town. We took the train from Hanamaki to Hiraizumi and it took about 30 minutes.
From the Hiraizumi station to the temple, there is bus available, but we chose to walk. We regretted our choice slightly because whilst the distance on the map is not so far, it’s kind of an upwards ascent, so when we finally got to the temple, we felt a little tired!
This was my first visit of Chusonji Temple — the most famous attraction in Iwate and also a World Heritage site. The walk from Hiraizumi station took about 20 minutes. One of the interesting things here is that this Buddhist temple is based on a buddhist belief originating from the Han dynasty of China. There are a lot of both foreign and local tourists. It was really worth a visit. (The entry ticket was 800 yen).
After visiting the temple, we went back to the Hiraizumi station for a quick feed and then headed off to Geibikei gorge. We took the train to the Geibikei station.
Geibikei is just amazing! It’s one of Japan’s three major rivers. The valley is about 2 kms long and we enjoyed a relaxing boat ride along the gorge-river with stunning views of the cliffs on both sides. The wooden boat has glass pontoon and Japanese kotatsu (heated tables). We had a 船めぐりaround the valley. The round-trip cost us 1600 yen per person. On the boat, we can see the beautiful scenery of the stream. Also, the boatman sang a traditional Japanese song for us. It really can’t get any better!
The staff there also told us the story of each cliff and interesting rock formation. In winter, the cliffs appear cold and majestic, presumably when spring and summer come, it will be even more beautiful. I hope to go back and see Geibikei again in summer.
At about 5:00pm, we transferred from Ichinoseki station and headed back to Sendai. I really had a great time in Iwate!
There are so many more places in Tohoku which are very attractive to me, and I hope I can have opportunity to take part of this kind of activity again!
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