07 February 2017

Konnichiwa Sweeties I'm back with another #FollowChanwonTo post and this time i'm going to bring you guys along with me. Yes, you are now on board with me to the Iwate Prefecture, Japan. This is going to be really fun because I'm going to a new prefecture in Japan!!! I have never been to Iwate before and it's the reason why I'm really excited about it. Are you ready?? 

Let's get started!


Tohoku Area: Hiraizumi , Iwate |

So I guess some of you might be confuse on the name of the places. Am I right? Long story short, Tohoku is the northeastern portion of Japan and it consists of six prefectures included Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata. This time I will be travelling all the way to the northeastern of Japan to visit those famous attractions which has eye catching scenery and beautiful historical places.

Iwate is a large prefecture and Hiraizumi is the southern city of Iwate, which contains a rich architectural legacy from its period as a political center in the 11th and 12th centuries, including Chūson-ji Temple and the adjacent Mōtsū-ji Temple. Northeast, the city of Tōno was the birthplace of many folk tales, now recounted in traditional surrounds at its Old Tales Village. 

*Hiraizumi (平泉) is a small town in Iwate, in the northeastern Tohoku region of Japan.

So this time I will be mainly spending my time in Hiraizumi and I had summarised some of the famous and recommended places to visit in Hiraizumi, Iwate Japan so you guys can easily understand it from the photo below. It took me few hours to come out with this summary and I guess next time I can just paid someone to design it for me. It's time consuming lol!

This trip is so wonderful for me because there are so many fun activities and lessons learned. I'm able to try lacquerware in the workshop,  DIY my own glass during the day visit to the SAHARA Glass Park and had lots of great and yummy foods especially the beef! OMG I miss the food >.< 


The Weather |
You probably knew it from my instagram! The weather is killing me slowly. It's -1 ~ -7 degree during this trip. It's the beginning of the year 2017 and I checked the weather report right before the trip but the weather report never mentioned it's negative degree. This is the first time I need to wear 3 layers of heat tech top , two layers of legging + pants , one thick outer and I still feel freaking cold on my hand. 

Honestly if you travel to such weather please remember to get yourself some heat pads, glove and wear something like hoodie. First time I need something to cover my head because it's too cold until I can't feel my head. So nothing I can feel other than cold and my hand can't even click the button of my camera. It's why some of the photo look quite blur in quality lol because it's using my phone.


Transportation & Details |
There are two main transportation methods. Firstly, it's the Shinkansen to Tohoku area and the rest is just stick with the Japan jumbo taxi / cab. (You can book for the taxi course during your journey) So once I arrived at Narita airport I have to go to the JR Pass redeem counter to redeem my JR East Pass for travelling to Tohoku via Shinkansen bullet train. 

Line up to get my JR East Pass

Got it!

 The unlimited and flexible 5-Day JR East Pass to Tohoku area

It's not hard or complicated at all to travel to Tohoku area in Japan. Everything was there and easy to understand + plan! So if you are planning to explore this prefecture then you can check out the above's link because I think it's really useful for you to plan and know what's going on + some details like if you want to know how to access to the famous spot in Iwate , how to book for taxi courses and the prices & etc...that was hard to find in other website. So keep this nicely with you and now ....It's time to cheer you up with those beautiful photo I took in Iwate, Japan.


#1  Boat Trip @Geibi Gorge |
O-M-G..This was the reason why I'm here. My very first boat trip in winter @Geibi Gorge and all of us came here right away we arrived at Iwate by Shinkansen. Just take a look at it! Just look!! How amazing it is. I'm totally shocked when I saw it. It's so beautiful and pretty at the same time and once again, I'm surrounded by the nature. It's so breathtaking and it's real + right in front of my eyes!!! 

Then, you might be wondering why it's called as Geibi Gorge?

The answer is.... 
Geibi = “lion nose”! It comes from a limestone near the end of the gorge which resembles a lion's nose. It is famous for its 90-minute round-trip boat ride, with a great view of waterfalls, impressive rocks and a limestone cave. Other than that, it also offers beautiful scenery throughout the year, such as the fresh green of the spring, autumn foliage, and purple wisteria flowers on the cliffs and on the trellis at the end of the gorge in the spring.

 Inside this beautiful boat

 Breathtaking scenery

 Blocking the perfect view but I must stand here to take a photo as memory

At the half way point of the ride, you can get off the boat for a walk. There is a large cliff with a small hole, and you can purchase “undama” or “luck stones” ( 5 stones for 100 yen ) and try to throw them into the hole! I'm not the lucky one but if you throw into the hole, you will get good luck.

 “undama” or “luck stones”

 Tried my best but it's too far away to throw the lucky stone into the hole

 Fail T.T

Hello new friends from Thai~

 It's so cold and time to walk back to our boat. 

 Hello from all of us <3 

There are many fish and animal in the river, you can always buy its food and feed them from the boat.

At the end of the downstream ride, you can enjoy the boatman sing a local folk song called Geibi Oiwake. Also, from December through February, you can enjoy a hot nabe dish on a boat with a kotatsu, a low table which also serves as a heater. The table was way too cozy! I dont even want to leave the boat because once i step out from it, it's freaking cold outside! But it's definitely worth for the visit! Everything was too perfect for me! Love it!!

Boatman singing the local folk song called Geibi Oiwake.


#2  Motsuji Temple |
This is a must-visit place in Iwate. Everyone purposely come for this and at first I thought it might be quite boring but ended up it really surprised me! Why? Because we are going to have fun during the night festival! Yes, night festival!!!! My very first time again :p

According to the website stated, Motsu-ji was one of the most renowned spiritual places in Japan, with over 40 temple buildings, 500 monk residences, and the grand Kondo Enryuji Temple. But unfortunately, none of the original structures remain today due to repeated fires ;what remain today are the sites of foundations, cornerstones, mounds, corridors, gates, and halls, as well as the site of Kondo Enryuji Temple. 

So back to the interesting topic here, the night festival was super nice and it took more than 1 hours. The name of the night festival is called as Hatsukayasai Festival.

Take a lot on the photo above....Are you kidding me?? All the men wear only the loincloths in such cold weather (-2 degree) and this is one of the most popular event held at this world heritage temple - #Motsuji Jogyodo Hall. My friends told me that the night festival is actually use to pray for safety , protection for both man and women who are in their 'unlucky ages'. (According to Japanese superstition, man unlucky's year are age 25,42 and 61 while the women will be 19,33,37. )

So during the 20th of January every year (called Hatsukayasai) , everyone will gathering at this temple and man will be wearing only the loincloths no matter how the weather is. They will carry large size of torches and parade to Jogyodo Hall with diff color of head band on their head. Wearing red head band is the one who are facing the unlucky ages and the blue & yellow is the one who protect them in order to perform the parade.  

 Hatsukayasai Festival

It's such an interesting festival to me especially looking at all half naked man shouting and parade in such weather in winter. Also, someone told me that they also believe the person who take the leftover torches back home will bring them good luck! What a great experience. It really opened my eyes to experience and understand more about Japanese traditional culture.  

Motsuji temple during other season

#3  First Stay @Oshu Hiraizumi Hot Springs Sobaan Shizukatei |
Wooohooo! I'm so into the first night stay at this wonderful hot spring place because the room is just nice and cozy for me. I fall asleep right away I closed my eye. I guess I'm too tired during the first day of this trip but anyway, nothing can compare with a nice and warm hot spring onsen in Japan. My dream is able to enjoy onsen everyday! HAHAAHAH

 Oshu Hiraizumi Hot Springs Sobaan Shizukatei

 First Japanese traditional cuisine in 2017 - The best way to kickstart my year!

I love how special and its presentation of the food. Everything look perfect to be together and as you can see from the photo...it taste heavenly but i guess this is quite a big portion for me. There are more than 14 foods served at this place. The hotel owner invited us into a private room to enjoy our dinner / food. This is very normal in Japan especially in Japan traditional / onsen stay like this.

This is the common layout / interior style for a hot spring stay in Japan. You have to sleep on the futon which place on the floor (no western bed) but you can enjoy ONSEN as much as you can!

I think this is the best stay compare with our next few days stay. I have no idea why lol + this is the smallest room we stayed during the whole trip. Maybe small = feel safe and cozy??!! Maybe~ but everything is just so cozy and I easily fall asleep on the futon. The most important thing was, heater was open all day long so I won't feel cold at all!


#4  Lacquerware Workshop: Hidehira-Nuri @Ootiya |
This Haraizumi's Hidehira-Nuri lacquerware is a traditional craft of Iwate Prefecture and has been widely manufactured in Japan. Its simple, refined aesthetic presents a reflection of the history and natural features of the region of its birth. No joke by looking at all their creation it's so precious and one of the plate cost almost thousand ringgit each. I did one for myself too and it's priceless! AHAHAHAH

Lacquerware products are beautiful yet practical, durable and repairable but one thing I have to highlight was...It's super duper EXPENSIVE. You will WOW when you spot the price of it. Let me show you here~

 75600 yen for one! It's so artistic, beautiful and not everyone can owe it I think.
But it's really so beautiful!! The gold foil is <3 

 Wow for the price lol

 Lesson start! make your own art piece!

 Cheat-sheet hahahaha! for someone who don't even know how to draw lol
Just like me...

 Game strong! Serious and focusing on my work.

 drafting on the table before drawing it right away on the product.

 Are you ready?!! 
You can do it Chanwon!

 After 1 hour of hard work. AHHAAHAH

 Our artwork. The first one was simple and nice! I love it but I decided to go for sakura instead + my favourite color lol.

Hello, you guys were priceless! Can't wait to receive it in Malaysia.

Take note: For those who interested to join the workshop you might need to think about how to bring it back to Malaysia because the paint need to dry for few days and it might takes some time for them to get it ready for you. So if you plan to visit here for the workshop or create your wonderful art pieces, please make sure you know the exactly date and see whether when you can get it before you back to your country ya.


#5  Lunch @ Hokuten |
Hokuten has the best dishes /food ever. It taste heavenly especially combine the food served at this restaurant with the view outside of the window. It's wonderful and I need to highlight of various color  of the food. It's so eye catching and nice to me. Especially feeling excited on the first bite of every food served by them.

 View outside of the window

 Our food!

OMG OMG OMG I miss this so much. The best beef ever! So soft and melted on my tongue! 5 out of 5 stars on this.

 Selfie with the food!

 Selfie with the group!

 act nerd with the food!


#6  Chuson-Ji Temple |
Chūson-ji Temple (中尊寺), Hiraizumi's largest and most famous temple, renowned particularly for its Golden Hall (金色堂 Konjikidō) which is housed inside a large glass case. It also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The literatures kept in there were claimed national treasures. True to the name, the shrine inside is elaborately decorated with golden lacquer and mother-of-pearl, with three Buddha images. 

Golden Hall (image from google because no camera is allowed for this area)

I wonder how they build it in the past without the help of technology and it were truly magnificent! Too beautiful and intricate to describe in a few words.

You can enjoy walking around the parks and watching the temples. Kickstart your day with a beautiful walk.

Chuson-ji’s museum


#7  Dress in Heian Period clothes |
Next itinerary was super duper fun! I can dressed up myself in the Heian Period clothing @ Hiraizumi Cultural Heritage Center. I think it would be nicer if I have long and black hair like the photo below because when I google it, all girl dress in Heian period clothing was having a long and black hair. So gorgeous and mystery at the same time!

Heian Period Clothes 


#8  Second Stay @ Hiraizumi Hotel Musashibo |
Yes, my second Stay @Hiraizumi Hotel Musashibo. It was bigger than my first night stay and I'm able to try their onsen hot spring again! Yeahhhh!!

Nothing special I think every traditional Japanese hot spring stay is similar

Good food = Good day!


#9  Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamondo Temple|
Takkoku no Iwaya Bishamon-do temple is one of the mystery temple that built in the rock wall of a cliff during 1200 years ago. Totally have no idea how can someone built this last time. It's a nice cave temple dedicated to Bishamon the god of war, but was called Iwaya Bishamondo -- a place to pray for peace and wealthy. 

Also at this site is the Ganmen Daibutsu a giant stone carving of Budda, but only the head remains after an earthquake destroyed the body. Can you spot this? It's on the photo above! Just take note that it is one of the local attractions and not a World Heritage Site. You have to pay the entrance fees of ¥300 to enter this temple

At the entrance

Things surrounded the temple

I have no idea why but I always get attracted by a red color temple. It's my personal preference and I always think it's really beautiful to have such color like our Chinese New Year color.lol


#10  Sabojuju : Cozy Cafe |
Next, having our lunch at this little cozy cottage house. It's really small and only contain 4-5 tables for walk-in customer (if not mistake). So far it's one of the interesting cafe that we visited. The owner here was super duper friendly and for me it's quite like our grandparent's age. We ordered our food after 10 mins of taking photo :p and at the end of it they came and talk to us.

They told us the plate they use to put on our food is way older than us. It's 100 years ago! Also, there are a wardrobe placed behind us was older than 100 years too. It's still here and I still can't believe on it. lol Too surprise for me. 

The super vintage wardrobe that older than all of us!

The menu

Although there are only 3 tables inside this cottage house/ small restaurant but the experience is somehow priceless. This cafe is actually a place that rehousing the Japanese old warehouse and that's the reason why it's so special for me. It's also a pet friendly cafe and wish to bring Bebe here too~ :'(

Since there are only one person who cook for the food, it require some patient to wait it. But it took only 20 mins until I got mine. So i think it's still alright as long as it's yummy. HAHAHAHA

Healthy food with lots of vegetable. I dont like veggie but i finished everything here. This green soup is my favourite out of everything here. It's broccoli soup and just soooooo good!

Insta-worthy photo corner! AHHAAH

The dessert

Spot the owner of the shop pls. They will never go back to the restaurant until you get into the car or they can't see you. They will keep say bye-bye to you until you are gone lol. Japanese culture and thing diff from our country.


#11  Playing snow @ Marutsube Snow Land|
First time playing in a snow park. It's more fun than i thought and not scary at all. Not really cold unless it's windy. The weather treat us nicely and the worker from this snow park saw that I'm wearing so little, so they borrowed me a big thick working jacket. Thanks a lot and it melted my heart <3

Hello Sk ii, Hello Snowboard!

Hello us!

I got no hand to take photo for this because most of the time I'm playing and walking on the snow. It's fun to bring my go pro with me because I get to record our journey and expression through the whole trip. One of the craziest thing I did was eating red bean ice cream in such a cold weather HAHAHAHAA!

Cute shape and this is an award winning ice cream lol

Is time to start the game!

Really happy and good memories with them.

Except for the snow park there are some other facilities which really suitable for you if you travelling with a group of people. You can stay and overnight here for few days. They have their own traditional and western room stay for you and you can sleep with your whole family. The western room contain 5-6 beds and all of you can enjoy the fun activities & facilities here.

Normally company come here for team building activities, student come here for a student /study trip or family who purposely come all the way from another side of Japan or travel from diff country will be here during their holiday too. It's quite fun because there are some facilities such as indoor basketball court, movie room, study room, canteen and so on.

This is another thing that I can't experience in Malaysia because our country don't have 4 season. What we have is just the summer weather throughout the year. So if you are planning to visit Japan in a winter time, make sure you create some memories playing with the snow and build your own mini snowman. HAHAHAAH


#12  Genbikei |
After playing with the snow is time to go to the Genbikei gorge. There is a path leading down either side of the gorge that gives views, as well as a few bridges crossing over the gorge that also provide spectacular views. 

The bridge!

Insta-worthy photo corner again! HAHAHA

The breathtaking view during winter. I think it's totally diff if you come in spring / autumn. At one section you can walk on the rocks right to the edge of the gorge. One of the things that have made this gorge famous with the Japanese is the ‘flying dango’.

Flying Dango (photo credits to google image)

Dango are a sweet Japanese dish of sticky rice balls with various sauces, served on a skewer. The reason they are called ‘flying’ is that you place your order on one side of the river and send it via a rope and basket (similar to a flying fox). The restaurant on the other side of the river then prepares your order, and the dango are then ‘flown’ back to you in the basket.

It’s a bit of a gimmick, but the gorge is stunning, and if you are hungry, you may as well give the dango a go. The translator told me that many people eating them at the time of their visit but unfortunately it's closed in winter. So I can't experience how fun it is to order a flying dango but is okay :'(

This is the rope that flying dango come to you lol


#13  Kakko Dango |
Since the flying dango was closed due to the season, they brought us to another shop to try the dango. Okay my favourite was the red bean one while my friend prefer the soy sauce.

Friendship dango!

The dango is super duper soft and to eat and look at the amount of red bean of my dango. It's A LOT but just nice for me on every bite! I love this and definitely will come back & try this out when i'm here again.


#14  Third Stay @ Itsukuhien |
Last stay during this trip. It's our third stay at Itsukuhien! To be honest I slept only few hours in this place because our room was way too big and the room was too hot for me but i CAN'T adjust or control the heater temperature. But overall this stay has the best view and the biggest one! Just I can't get to control the room temperature it's too hot for me, but otherwise this should is also my cup of tea! lol

Entrance of the hotel

so cute!

One thing I love the most was this beautiful futon in my favorite color! It's pastel~ I like it and A futon is actually a traditional Japanese bedding that is usually laid on the floor. A bedding set consists of both a mattress and a duvet that use to cover the futon. Can you believe it's super cozy to sleep on it? Wish to get one duvet back to my country but guess what ... it cost almost RM1000 just to get the duvet blanket lol. 

Guess I have to give up on it because Malaysia is too hot and I might not able to use it in such weather hahahah!Normally they will make the futon for you during the evening so every time I'm back to my room (after dinner) The futon is well-prepared for me and some will leave a note to inform you what time they came to place your futon!! 

View from my room!

Nice selfie corner beside the window hAHAHAAH

Japanese Traditional Cuisine again! Look at the sakura-shape sticky rice!! So cute!!

Pastel gradient rice bowl.

Too cute to eat it!


#15  SAHARA Glass Park |
Another workshop to make your own unique glass cup for yourself. It's simple and very easy. Require 0 ZERO knowledge. Just draw or pick your favourite drawing on the box provided by the place and then using the tool to craft your own glass cup and bring back to Malaysia. This SAHARA Glass Park is somewhere near by the Genbikei and there are lots of fun activities here such as glass atelier, shopping at the glass shop, enjoying your private tea time at the glass cafe and making your own unique glass cup.

Picked this totoro doodle and i'm going to follow the line and do it on my own!

15 mins of hard work!!

I'm done!! HAHAHAAH So easy!

Your art piece can straight away bring back home (once you done) and it's quite bulky so make sure you wrap it nicely with bubble wrap or place it between your clothes in your luggage ya.

Also we are here got its GLASS ATELIER lesson too

You can observe the glass production work using the glassblowing techniques in the glass studio. Look at the world of the glass art that the skill of the produces by glassblowing craftmans. In addition, the glass production experience using the technique of the "glassblowing glass" "hand gravure" "dragonfly ball" reaches, too. Because they instructs it, children or kids can participate. Please experience it in memorial of a visit or in the theme of the free study.

It's my turn now!

Besides that, I spent like 1 hours just staring and looking those art pieces located at their glass shop. In this huge glass shop, there are pretty fairy tale-like accessories and art glasses having both dignity and elegance. It's my cup of tea and wish to bring everything back to decorate my new space.

it's not those old-looking kind of art work but this is really pretty!

They display the glassware more than 100,000 points which we choose not only in Japan but also all over the world, and was able to be muddy and sell it. In addition, they sell the original glass only for you who received the name and a family coat of arms and a logo or the original product which is full of the ideas that you can purchase only in Sahara glass park. It's really unique and special~

Look at this!

OMG! This is a good deco for the terrarium plant T.T I want it badly!

Kawaiii!! So tiny and cute!! How they make it OMG!! I got myself a pretty art piece here. Can't wait to show you guys on my instagram.


#16  Good Bye |
This trip wouldn't be so fun without both of them, my new thai friends. The Japanese tour guide was so shy to speak in English with me so ended up both of them become my translator. I still remember the first day we met and time flies, few days after we have to go back to our own country. It's the time when I felt really sad but happy at the same time. 

I love how Japan brought us together, how much we fall in love with this beautiful country that surrounded with positive vibes , polite and friendly people. It's hard to say good bye but it's always a ending of every wonderful story. Can't believe I still able to travel to my favourite country at the beginning of year 2017.

I will kept all these memories with me and can't wait for the next catch up soon in Bangkok Thailand. Fate brought us together and it's time to say bye bye with them! Good luck and all the best for each other. They were just too sweet and friendly. We communicate with English and translate from Japanese > Thai > English language. This is how wonderful language is, how great is to meet unknown people or straighter who became a part of  your life at the end of every adventure or journey. You guys rock and Bye bye Iwate! Another prefecture checked on my list!! More to come~

Tohoku Shinkansen back to Tokyo and then NEX to narita airport.

Feel so sad T.T I'm leaving this place soon.

Bought this neck pillow at Narita airport from Muji. It has a hoodie on it so you can cover half of your face when you want to take a nap or sleep in your flight.

Alone again :'( @ Narita airport waiting for my flight boarding time!

So it's end of this post and thanks for being here with me to explore this beautiful prefecture with me. Thankful to everything happened on me and thanks Iwate for the wonderful and breathtaking scenery during our visit. Thanks for giving me such a wonderful memories and nice meeting everyone during this trip. Everything in here has its own unique beauty and definitely will be visiting another tohoku area again in the future.

That's all for today and thanks for reading my travel post. Have a nice day and see you on my next post. Love, xoxo.

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