For this issue of THE KITAKAMI TIMES, we had two college students come to the Iwate Prefectural Government for a day as interns at the ILC Promotion Bureau, and had them write up their tips and recommendations for those visiting Iwate. We’ve split this up into two parts, this first one being about tourist spots around the prefecture.


Blue Iwate


When you hear the word blue, what kind of things come to mind? The sky, the ocean, flowers – things from nature, right? Iwate is of course home to a bright, clear sky, and a huge expanse of ocean, but it has one more “blue” view available. That would be Ryusendo Cave, one of three greatest limestone caves in all of Japan.

Ryusendo is a limestone cave that was eroded by underground water sources over many eons. Inside the cave, a truly mystical scene awaits you, with stalactites hanging like icicles overhead.

Ryusendo is 4,088m in length, with eight blue underground lakes, and bats making their home throughout the cave. It is designated a national natural monument by the government, and is truly an artistic expression by Mother Nature. You’ll never forget your first glimpse at this mysterious world.



Welcome to an all-encompassing starry night sky – The Astronomical Observatory in Ichinohe Town


Did you know there’s a fantastic spot in Ichinohe Town (northern Iwate) to see the night sky? You’ve got to visit the abovementioned Ichinohe Tourism Observatory.

The Ichinohe Tourism Observatory can be reached in about twenty minutes by car from the Okunakayama Kogen Station on the IGR train line. It’s open from late-April to late- November. There are hardly any buildings or lights around the observatory that would obstruct its view of the gorgeous night sky.

The observatory is equipped with a 500mm reflector telescope, which can be used to see the seasonal constellations on clear nights. There’s also a planetarium inside where you can hear talks from the staff on nights where you can’t see the stars.

There was a night stargazing festival held throughout the country in 2014, and the Ichinohe Observatory ended up being the place where you could see the most stars thanks to its dark surroundings. This nationally-recognized observatory that indeed something we can be proud of.



A short break in Iwate


There’s a place in Iwate that has tons of ways to enjoy nature no matter what time of year it is. That place is Koiwai Farm in Shizukuishi Town, on the western end of Iwate.

You’ll find horses, sheep, cows, ponies, and other animals on the farm. You can of course stroll around all you like, but there’s also horseback riding and animal feeding experiences where you can see the animals up close. There’s forests on the premises, and you can ride in a buggy dragged by a tractor where you can enjoy the wind of your face and the smells of the farm. You can even lay in a hammock-like net where you can gaze over at natural beauty of Mount Iwate. The whole farm is decked out with lights in the winter. You can find something enjoyable to do at any point in the year. Consider refreshing your batteries at Koiwai Farm!


Next time we’ll showcase Iwate’s traditions and crafts.