The transition of the four seasons in Iwate Prefecture are clearly defined, bringing with them the pleasures of changing scenery and seasonal food. In this article, the Genbi Community Center introduces the seasonal delights of Genbikei, which is located in southern Iwate prefecture, 9km from World Heritage Site, Hiraizumi, and is registered as a National Site of Scenic Beauty and a National Natural Monument.

Spring——. The Iwai River, formed by the rapids of meltwater pouring from Mt. Kurikoma, which glimmers white with the remaining snow, carves Genbikei, a valley consisting of waterfalls of varying sizes and unique rocks formations. The trees beside the river, with their sprouts and new leaves that have survived lengthy winters, give you a sense of life’s resilience and a breath of spring. Locals, in particular, are looking forward to the cherry blossoms that decorate the riverfront.

Yoshino and Edohigan cherry trees are the most common blooms in Genbikei. It is said that the Edohigan trees were planted in the middle of the 17th century by the order of feudal lord Date Masamune, who was in charge of the area. They are known as Teizanzakura, deriving from Masamune’s pen name ‘Teizan’. Teizanzakura are natural monuments declared by Ichinoseki and are located in the precincts of the Onsen Shrine on the north side of the valley and on the left bank of the Iwai River. Back in the early 12th century, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who was staying at World Heritage site, Hiraizumi, also adored the scenery of Genbikei, and is said to have often visited by horse.

In Japan, there is a proverb, “Hana yori Dango” – which translates to dango (skewered rice dumplings) over flowers. It means that dango that satisfy hunger are appreciated more than cherry blossoms that are only there to be looked at. One of the specialties of Genbikei is the flying dango. A basket of dango and tea fly along a zip line across the river. In Japan, there is a saying “reality always falls short of reputation”, but Genbikei’s specialty dango, are no doubt exquisite.

Summer——. Perhaps due to the effects of global warming, it is not uncommon for summers to have temperatures exceed 30 degrees Celsius. However, Genbikei, has a refreshing breeze that blows across the valley, giving it the feel of a summer retreat.

The Terui Weir, which is used as agricultural water upstream, receives a large volume of water from the Iwai River. As the water level drops, potholes appear here and there on the river bed. These potholes form when the pebbles that stay in dents of the rock surfaces rotate in a fast flow, scraping the surface to create a hole. Genbikei is designated as a national natural monument due to the large number and variety of potholes.

Seasonal flavours of summer vegetables such as eggplants, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes pique the appetite. Edamame, a must-have accompaniment to beer, is also a treat. Roadside Station Genbikei near Genbikei gorge, is where you can find seasonal vegetables as well as ‘mochi cuisine’, a Japanese soul food that is served year round.

Autumn——. “Yama (mountain) moyuru (ablaze)” is an expression to describe autumn leaves. Autumn in Genbikei is marked by the red of maples and sumacs, as well as the green of pine trees that line the valley and the river’s surface. The contrast between the blue of the water and the brown of the rock surfaces is beautiful and subtle. The three bridges of Genbikei are the Goranba Bridge, a rickety suspension bridge, the centeral Tengu Bridge, which is regularly bustling with tourists, and the Chojataki Bridge in the upstream, which is made of bamboo rather than reinforcing bars. If you want to soak in the autumn hues of Genbikei, we recommend walking along the promenade route, which will take you across the three bridges.

When we talk about autumn foods, we must first and foremost mention rice. The main variety is Hitomebore which is famous nationwide, and new rice is exceptionally delicious. Fruits that have just been picked are also recommended. Tourist wineries and apple orchards sell directly nearby.

Winter—–. Snow flutters in December. We welcome the arrival of migratory birds such as swans and geese. Genbikei takes on the appearance of a snowy landscape, with the rock surface becoming moist and glowing black, creating a magnificent landscape reminiscent of an ink painting. In and around Genbikei, there are hot spring inns where you may dine sashimi or seafood dishes fished off the Sanriku coast, as well as enjoy meat dishes like shabu-shabu of Japanese black beef. These regional foods go well with Yukimi sake.

On the north side of Genbikei, there is a city museum adjacent to the Roadside Station Genbikei, where you can learn about the region’s history and culture. If you go a little further to the west, you will find the Honderamura Estate, which has been designated as a national cultural landscape for preserving its rural landscape from the Middle Ages. Wakamikotei has a shop, a restaurant, and museum. Matsurube Snowland is located further west and offers skiing and snowboarding. Within a 20km vicinity to Genbikei, the area full of appealing activities, even in the winter.

How did we go? Did the article help bring about the imagery of the Genbikei in spring, summer, autumn and winter? We hope that one day you will visit Genbikei and enjoy the scenery and seasonal foods. We’re looking forward to seeing you in future.



【写真① 春】

【写真② 桜】


【写真③ 団子】
【写真④ 夏】


【写真⑤ 秋】

【写真⑥ 冬】

 冬-----。12月になると雪がちらつきます。白鳥や雁などの渡り鳥も飛来します。厳美渓も雪景色となり、岩肌も濡れて黒く光り、まるで水墨画のように幻想的な風景となります。厳美渓やその周辺には温泉旅館があり、温泉を楽しみながら、リアス式の三陸の海から獲れた魚介類のお刺身や海鮮料理あるいは黒毛和牛のしゃぶしゃぶなどの肉料理が 堪能(たんのう)できます。地元の料理を肴(さかな)に雪見(ゆきみ)酒(ざけ)と洒落(しゃれ)るのも一興(いっきょう)です。

【写真7 田園風景】