Last weekend Melissa and I packed up the old Subaru with road trip essentials and headed to Morioka! Morioka is in Iwate Prefecture and is a little over two hours away by car. We picked a great day to make the drive with plenty of sunshine and beautiful scenery the entire way.
In Morioka, we visited the Mitsuishi Shrine and learned that long ago a demon by the name of Rasetsu terrorized the city. The people of Morioka prayed to the god Mitsuishi for protection. Mitsuishi granted their prayers, defeated the demon Rasetsu, and chained him to three giant stones. After some time, Rasetsu promised to never torment the people of Morioka again and left his hand print in the rock as a sign of that promise when Mitsuishi released him. Morioka is in Iwate, which means “rock hand” and Mitsuishi means “three rocks” Next we walked to the Hoon-ji Zen Buddhist temple to view the 500 Rakan that watch over ancestors. This Zen temple is a training place for monks and is a very peaceful respite in the busy city. Other sites worth noting are the Morioka Castle Site Park and the famous Ishiwarizakura (The Rock-Splitting Cherry Tree).
Morioka is also famous for soba noodles, which are thin Japanese noodles made from buckwheat. Soba is delicious and can be served in a myriad of ways with a cornucopia of toppings and sauces. For our soba lunch, we chose Azumaya Soba Shop because they offer an alternative type of soba eating experience called Wanko Soba! To eat wanko soba, one must wear a special apron and eat continuously one spoonful (or bowl) of soba at a time and the soba attendant will immediately fill your bowl when it is empty with another small serving of soba that is equivalent to a mouthful. You can have several side dishes to accompany your soba, but eat the side dishes sparingly or you will not be able to eat a lot of soba. The attendant keeps track of your bowls until you put the lid on your own bowl, which is the only way the flow of noodles will cease! I ate 64 bowls… Melissa ate 36…wanko soba was delicious and fun!
We said goodbye to Morioka and headed back to Misawa. The drive home was pleasant and it seemed like we were home in no time and already making plans to visit Morioka again in the near future. I think Melissa spotted a multi-level department store!
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