After the typhoon hit almost all of Japan the weather never got better and more than half of my vacation it had pretty bad weather.
Luckily the last day was different with blue sky and sunshine!
It was a very long day for me that I spent in two great locations of Iwate Prefecture: Morioka and Hiraizumi.
Exploring the Morioka Castle Site Park
I got up very early in the morning to visit the Morioka Castle (盛岡城) ruins.
As it is a park now and only ruins are left, you can go anytime without having to pay any admission fee.
Morioka Castle Site Park (盛岡城跡公園) – also known as Iwate Park – is close to the station (~ 20 mins walk). Here’s a map that will give you a rough idea.
There was also a little shrine in the park: 櫻山神社 (Sakurayama Shrine)
Some shrines have these instructions of how to wash your hands and mouth before you proceed to pray to the gods.
This is probably the cutest drawing I’ve seen so far!
The shrine was decorated with koi flags (Koinobori 鯉幟, lit.: carp streamer) for Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi, May 5th).
As you can see it wasn’t windy at all.
Behind the shrine there was another small shrine up on a hill with some pretty impressive rocks.
Advised by Asano Nagamasa, Nambu Nobunao (the first lord of the Morioka domain), appointed his heir, Toshinao (the second lord) to be in charge of the construction of Morioka Castle in 1597.
In spite of damage by the repeated flooding of the Kitakami and Nakatsu Rivers, construction continued for 36 years!
In 1633, Nambu Shigenao (the third lord) finally entered Morioka Castle.
Subsequently the castle was the residence of the Nanbu family (南部藩, Nanbu Han) during the Edo Period.
Although all the buildings of the castle were destroyed in 1874, the ruined castle site was redesigned by garden architect Yasuhei Nagaoka in 1906.
Nowadays only ruins of the castle walls can be found, but it used to be a beautiful 3-storied castle.
This well-maintained park – known as “Iwate Park” is now a place of recreation and relaxation for many city residents.
In 2006 this castle site was given the nickname of “Morioka Castle Site Park” to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Iwate Park.
The remaining walls are well-preserved and offer a really impressive sight.
The best time to visit is in spring or in autumn. The park has many cherry blossom trees (as you can see in my photos), but also many trees that will turn yellow and red in autumn. In winter there’s a lot of snow, so it might be difficult to access.
There are still a lot of the castle’s walls left nowadays.
As the park is very spacious you’ll run into all sorts of things, like this statue here.
People have put money on the stone statue in order for their prayers to be heard.
This looks like the PERFECT place for an awesome picnic to me! ^__^
I’m not sure if there’s still anything in the house you see in the background. Windows and doors were closed, but it was also early in the morning, so who knows!
Right next to the park there’s a small river, the Nakatsu River (中津川).
A lot of people in suits were walking through the park. Not too far away are some public buildings. I suppose those people work there.
Seems like a great thing to start your day with a walk through the park or along the river.
I went back into the beautiful park and just strolled around for a little while.
It was such a colorful and refreshing park. It gave me energy for my last day of vacation.
There was also this freaky totem pole!
Outside of the park it was hectic and loud, but if you went deeper into the park or towards the riverside it was a different world!
I think it’s great for bigger cities to have such a place!
In front of Morioka Station. As you can see it was still early in the morning when I arrived there.
Don’t ask how early I got up to manage that! Wanting to see Morioka and Hiraizumi in one day, I had no other choice! Sometimes my travel schedule is crazy and packed – especially when I change them in the last minute. I didn’t have Morioka and Hiraizumi on my list at first and decided rather spontaneously that I wouldn’t spend my last day in Hokkaido, but in Iwate Prefecture!
When I hear Morioka, I always have to think of Fushigi Yuugi (Genbu Kaiden) :) If not for that manga I might have never made it to Japan.
I used to be a big Fushigi Yuugi fan, but that was MANY years ago (long before I moved to Japan).
How is / was it related to Morioka?
Takiko, the Priestess of Genbu is from Morioka. I think the cave of Genbu is also somewhere there-about and it gets mentioned in the original series as where Takiko died? Hopefully 2013 we’ll finally get the end of Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden. I stopped reading because it took forever between updates. Once it’s finished I’ll devour it from start to finish :)
:hearts: the kawaii drawing of hand washing instructions is the cutest I’ve seen too! Kind of strange to see a totem pole in the park…
It’s really cute! I was tempted to take it with me! JK! :hihi:
I didn’t know too much about Morioka Castle and the park, so thanks for sharing! I’m looking forward to the next post as Hiraizumi is a magnificent place to visit and once rivalled Kyoto for its cultural splendours.
Thanks a lot! I’m glad if I can show places to people that they didn’t know well or at all yet! ^___^
I wish I could have spent more time in Iwate Prefecture.
Hiraizumi has so many things to offer that half a day is not enough.
Thank you! I have not been there yet but I would like to visit in the near future. You have a different eye for details and I love it.
Wow, thank you so much!
That’s really a great compliment. I appreciate it! :D
This park is beautiful!
And the Instructiondrawings look simply adorable :kyah:
Thanks for visiting Morioka and sharing your experience. If you have a chance to come again , especially during hanami season, you could also check out Takamatsu no ike and Shiroyama koren in Shiwa (about 20min train south of Morioka) :)
I’ll definitely visit Tohoku again and I did feel I didn’t have enough time in Morioka, so I’d love to go back there one day.
Thanks a lot for the recommendations. ^^