As Rugby fans will know, the Iwate Prefecture will be hosting the World Cup next year.
What you may not know is that hosting the cup is part of this seaside village’s plan to heal and bring back hope to its community after the 2011 Tsunami left it devastated.
Here are the top 10 things to do in this beautiful region that will host matches between Uruguay and Japan.
1. Be rowed down an ancient River
Gebeikei is a 2-km gorge formed by the Satetsu River, surrounded by soaring cliffs of over 50 metres high.
Here, you can enjoy a 90-minute boat ride, on traditional wooden boats that have been cruising down the gorge for over 80 years, taking travellers from a local inn at the tip of the river to enjoy its serenity.
2. Visit a Sake Brewery
As the Japanese Sake purists say, “the quality of sake can never exceed the quality of its ingredients” and Kamihei Shuzo uses Nanbu style sake brewing techniques which ensures the highest of quality control.
It is quite a craft, the making of Sake, and to hear the artisan speak of the process makes for a great appreciation of the rice wine.
3. Visit a Craft Beer Brewery
If you are not a beer drinker you can still enjoy a delicious Japanese Curry and sake at Tono Brewery.
This brewery was opened only this year in April by Daisuke Hakamada, who moved to Tono city in 2017.
They brew their beer using local hops and serve it fresh from taps, along with the traditional Japanese curries.
4. Cycling off the Curry in Tono
Cycling through rice paddies and mountain streams, it is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
There are many cycling tracks to take around the region and the experience gives you an insight into Japan’s culture and history as it is quite untouched and hasn’t changed much for centuries.
5. Eat soba noodles till you are stuffed
Wanko Soba Restaurant is famous for its Soba noodle eating challenge.
The Wanko challenge is an all-you-can-eat buckwheat noodle binge unique to Iwate Prefecture.
The waitress, who was frightening in her “refill your bowl” technique ridiculed me playfully when I stopped at 6 (the average is 40 plus bowls) she was not impressed.
Needless to say, the lads I was travelling with got very competitive and one of them got to 80 bowls before giving up, while I settled for the delicious sashimi on offer instead. Perfect for the Rugby groups, but you better book your table, the place was packed.
6. Soak in an Onsen
The Osawa onsen is a wooden ryokan and is over 200 hundred years old. Unlike most onsens today, this one still preserves the original tradition of mixed group communal bathing.
The story is that it was the Christian movement of the 1600’s that separated men and women from the traditional onsen experience. Not so here.
Osawa Onsen proudly upholds the mixed group communal soaking and under no circumstances is swimwear to be worn. There are 6 separate onsens for those not so brave to bare all to the opposite sex.
7. See a traditional Japanese Show
Takamuro is a traditional rural accommodation surrounded by farmland and mountains.
There you can also enjoy an onsen but its famous for its Hayachine Kagura dance, an exuberant display of colour sound and movement.
8. Visit the Kamaishi Daikannon
The 48.5-metre statue was built on the Kamasaki Peninsula in 1970. Walk up the 11-floor staircase for spectacular views.
9. Visit Jodogahama Beach
A spectacular part of Miyako, the easternmost city on Japans mainland.
Stay at Jodogahama Park Hotel, which has an incredible location on the cliffs above the beach. This coastline is absolutely stunning.
10. Walk part of the Michinoku Coastal Trail
A stunning 900 km pilgrimage along runs north from Miyako to Hachinohe through the Sanriku-Fukko National Park.
We walked through ancient cave formation to step out into breathtaking ocean with jutting cliffs.