A Vision of Beauty
//By Kristina Tan//
One of Iwate’s claim-to-fame sites is the Sanriku Coastline, one of the most beautiful, natural seaside areas I, personally, have ever seen. There are various sightseeing areas, but amongst the most famous are the Kitayamazaki Cliffs in Tanohata and Jodogahama Beach in Miyako. In between is Ryusendo Cave, one of the three great limestone caves in Japan, filled with small, illuminated pools of water, from which various cosmetics and drink-based souvenirs sold in the area are sourced.
I was able to make the trip out on a Sunday – but just to Kitayamazaki and Jodogahama.
Arguably the most famous area on the coast, Kitayamazaki is known for its iconic cliffs. There are three observation platforms from which you can look at them and take pictures from, but it is more than 718 steps down to the actual beach, from which you can take a scenic boat ride. Steps start from Platform One, winding down a forested cliff face, with dirt, steep stairs.
The area near the first platform consists of a few restaurants, omiyage shops, and the Visitor’s Center. And if you’re anything like me, you’d collect the stamp from the Center.
Much like Hachinohe’s Tanesashi Coastline – which is actually also part of the Sanriku National Park, the area is famous for sea urchin (uni) and many of the restaurants offer Seafood Soup with Abalone and Sea Urchin (ichigoni) and Seafood Ramen (iso ramen). Tanohata, the village in which the cliffs are located, seems to also be famous for its milk, as various Tanohata-labelled soft serve ice creams, yogurts, and milk drinks were sold as souvenirs.
From Morioka, head on the Yamada Line to Miyako Station and transfer to a highway bus. There used to be a line running to the nearest station, but service is suspended due to tsunami damage. Though there are a few buses that go to the area, the better option is to rent a car or drive to Kitayamazaki.
Jodogahama Beach may be known as a beach, but don’t expect many swimmers or any sand! The most scenic part of Jodogahama is located on a small section of a rock beach – which was, admittedly, good for me, as I didn’t have the right shoes for a sandy coastline. From the beach, you can see beautiful rock formations along the coast and the endless expanse of blue sea. Just imagining the sun rising or setting along that shoreline makes me want to go back to see it.
Probably the most public transport friendly area on the coastline, Jodogahama is a JR train and bus away from the capital city of Iwate, Morioka. It is located in scenic Miyako City. After taking the Yamada Line from Morioka, take a bus from Miyako Station to the Visitor’s Center. From there, it’s a 5-10 minutes walk down. Be warned that the trains and buses only have a few times that they run, though – so be pretty strict about scheduling this in if you are not planning on driving.
The food court and tourist building nearby close at 5PM, so I advise arriving earlier if you are looking for eats by the beach.
From Akita, it is possible to make a day trip to Kitayamazaki, Ryusendo, and Jodogahama – but be sure to drive early in the morning! It takes about 4.5 hours to Kitayamazaki, 50 minutes from there to Ryusendo Cave, and a little over an hour from Ryusendo Cave to Jodogahama.