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A cave town with beautiful landscapes / Iwaizumi Iwate

Iwaizumi town is well known for its clear spring and caves across the town, including Ryusendo cave and Akka cave. 93% of the land is covered by forests and mountains, the white birches` forest and Hayasaka highland offers beautiful landscapes.

 
Ureira Mountain
Summer time, Ureira Mountain

Iwaizumi town, total area of 992.9km², making it the largest town in mainland Japan, is in the Kitakami Mountains of northeast Iwate prefecture, east of the prefectural capital of Morioka. It has a small coastline on the Pacific Ocean to the east, known as Sanriku rias.
It is characterized with mild summers and cold winters.

 
Clear river flow, Iwaizumi town
Clear river flow, Iwaizumi town
Heading to Iwaizumi on Japan National Route 455, you can reach at Hayasaka Highland. It`s an amazing uphill and downhill ride. You can relax and enjoy the nature here. Hayasaka highland is a prefectural natural park, famous for its therapy road and various kind of flowers, such as Dogtooth violet, Japanese iris and etc. (flower seasons starts from March to July).

 
Hayasaka Highland
Hayasaka Highland
 
Therapy Road
Therapy Road
 
Fall view of the road
Fall view of the road
 
The road closes in winter due to the heavy snow.
A 15-minute drive, you reach at Mitakaibunko (Mitakai branch school) roadside station, it used to be a local elementary school. After the school was closed, this space becomes a roadside station that keeps its original style. They sell local products and run a cafeteria.

 
Mitakaibunko outside view
Mitakaibunko outside view
 

30-minute drive from Mitakaibunko, you reach at Ryusendo Cave, one of the three greatest limestone caves in Japan, well known for its transparent underground lakes and beautiful limestones. There are five types of bats living inside the cave as well.


 

Ryusendo Cave
The First Underground Lake with depth of 35m, Ryusendo Cave
 
Hibernating bats
Hibernating bats, Ryusendo Cave

 
The cave opens all seasons and the best season to see bats and underground lakes is in winter. You can see bats hibernate in their favorite spots in the cave, and the underground lakes are in its best conditions.

 
Underground Lake
View from the First Underground Lake Observatory, Ryusendo Cave
 

20 minutes` drive from Ryusendo, you can check out the longest limestone cave in Japan, Akka cave, with 23.7km long. The normal tourist course is 500 meters and adventure course is available by reservation.
 

Limestones in Akka Cave
Limestones in Akka Cave
 

On the way heading to the Sanriku rias, you can have a small break in roadside station Iwaizumi. You can try out the Japanese shorthorn, Iwaizumi yogurt and other local specialties.


 
Road view of the town
Road view of the town
 
Roadside Station Iwaizumi
Roadside Station Iwaizumi outside view
 
Japanese shorthorn steak meal
Japanese shorthorn steak meal in Roadside Station Iwaizumi

 
After reaching the coastal line in Omoto Iwaizumi, you can have a relaxing break with views of the Sanriku rias sceneries. One of the iconic spots knowns as Kuma no hana (Nose of a bear), which was formed after a major volcanic activity during the Mesozoic period.


Kumanohana Observatory
A nice spot to enjoy the view, Kumanohana Observatory
 

Around that area, you can also find the spot where the first dinosaurs` fossil was discovered in Japan. The replica of the fossil is in display in the Omoto station.
 

Small museum inside the Omoto Station
Small museum inside the Omoto Station

 
Omoto Iwaizumi was hit by Tsunami and Typhoon Lionrock, you can also make an appointment with local guide and hear about the aftermath of disaster and current revival.
A smooth drive with beautiful landscapes and mysterious caves to visit. Talking to the local people, you will find more beauties of this town.

 
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