Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Since Momo no sekku or Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day) was coming around, it was nice to see all these tsurushi bina. (These were at Shizuka-tei).

Apparently in the Edo period most people could not afford the elaborate doll displays, so many would sew these types of tsurushi bina (literally hanging dolls) out of kimono fabric to pray/wish for the good health and happiness of their daughters.

After checking out, the inn dropped us off at the station.

Since we had almost an hour wait for our train, we went to have some coffee and something sweet at Yoshinoya.

This sweet shop has been in business since 1915!

The cream puff that we shared was delicious, not too sweet and filled to the gills with custard cream!

The owner's wife also gave us a taste of their sakura yokan (a thick, jellied dessert made of red bean paste, agar, and sugar).

From Hiraizumi to Tohno it was 2 and a half hours by train.

When we arrived the snow started falling slightly.

We had intended to look for lunch, but we also wanted to check out Kappabuchi, and luckily there was a bus that was scheduled to arrive in a matter of minutes, so we hopped on and headed out instead.

The snow was coming down quite steadily now, so we headed inside of Denshoen in search of lunch.

Hittsumi is the local dish filled with some veggies and "noodles" that are made by flattening and "pulling" at the dough.

The soup is shoyu based...what a great way to warm up!

We also tried the local sweet called ganzuki.

A steamed cake made from black sugar and is topped with walnuts and black sesame seeds.

The cake was so airy.

The snow had stopped and we were ready to look for kappa (river creatures).

On the way to Jokenji, we stumbled upon a farm that grows some of the hops for Kirin Beer.

It was cool to see how tall the hops grew!

On to the kappa...legend has it that Kappa were pranksters.

Once a kappa pulled a horse's tail and the rider fell off and got hurt.

The villagers heard what the kappa did and caught the kappa.

The kappa knew that if it was out of water too long it would die, so it pleaded to be spared.

The villagers made the kappa promise never to do pranks.

The kappa promised and the villagers set it free.

Nowadays, parents use the kappa story as a way to "scare" their children, saying that if they get too close to the edge of the river, the kappa will come and get them, in hopes that the children won't play near the rivers.

You should also know that Kappa apparently like cucumbers, which is why kappamaki have pieces of cucumber in them.

Anyway, behind Jokenji, is a river where you may see kappa.

While we were there, the wind picked up and made the area quite eery.

The blizzard also made things harder to see...

Of course, my new "friend" scared the bejeezus out of me appearing out of nowhere...

Since the bus wasn't running too often, we went back to Denshoen and called a taxi.

After checking in, we spent some time watching another blizzard whizz by our window...

Then after the blizzard stopped, we checked out the Tohno Museum next door to the hotel.

The museum shows life in Tohno before modern times and there are also displays of kitchen gadgets, farm tools as well as toys.

I was particularly intrigued by these wooden blocks.

Apparently on each side is a different picture with descriptions on them.

You roll them like dice and make up stories using the different pictures that turn up.

The lady working at the museum also showed us some custom blocks that were made using the German language instead of Japanese.

Down the street from the hotel was Matsuda Shorindo, a sweet shop that has been in business for over 150 years!

They created the sweet called akegarasu.

It is a semi-soft sweet that is made from rice flour, black sesame seeds and walnuts.

When sliced, the walnuts look like crows flying into the morning sky, thus the name "akegarasu".

These were slightly sweet and had a slight chew.

Bummer that their other sweets we purchased called Kappa no osara (kappa's plate), a manju like sweet had artificial sweeteners in it.

The owner's wife also mentioned that in a couple of days they would have a hinamatsuri event where many shops in the area would display their dolls.

Too bad we would miss this...I counted the shops on the map she gave us and there were over 40 to see!

We headed back to the hotel and just before dinner, there was a woman telling local folktales in Iwate dialect...talk about foreign language!

Dinner was again huge, though I didn't think this dinner was as good as the ones we had in the previous days.

Still, even if we didn't see any kappa, I'm glad we were in the area.

6-chiwari 5-1 Tsuchibuchi-cho
Tohno, Iwate
Phone: 0198.62.8655
Open 9:00-17:00

7-chiwari 50 Tsuchibuchi-cho
Tohno, Iwate
Phone: 0198.62.1333

Tohno Museum
3-9 Higashide-cho
Tohno, Iwate
Phone: 0198.62.2340
Hours: 9:00-17:00

Aeria Tohno
1-10 Shinmachi
Tohno, Iwate
Phone: 0198.60.1703


KirkK said...

Beware of killer cats! ;o) Nothing like a bowl of steaming hot needle soup on a cold day.

Rowena said...

I love tracking your path on google maps - it's amazing how many places there are to be visited. I watched a BBC series on Japan last month and they featured the sea serpent hunters on Kudaka Island in the south, and how they prepared them for a meal.

K and S said...

killer cats indeed Kirk, definitely not used to the ones with claws as my furry niece is de-clawed :)

I am glad you enjoyed this Rowena, will check out where Kudaka Island is, then see if Satoshi will want to go :)

Take care you two.

Rowena said...

ooooh....would be SO COOL if you guys went, check out this link, it's got that kinda spooky feel too.



K and S said...

Thanks for the links Rowena! I'm gonna check it out now :)

Take care.

jalna said...

Love your snowy river banks! And so funny about Kappa Cat scaring you.

K and S said...

it was neat to be there during a blizzard Jalna!

Take care.