In and around Morioka Hachimangu shrine which is within a 15-miute bus ride from Morioka JR station is surrounded by classical atmosphere with Juroku-rakan (16 disciples of Buddha), historic temples and a sake vault.
Walking around this area is today’s itinerary. Merchants and craftsmen used to live here while Kitakami-gawa River was crowded by boats, they say.
I started my walk from Morioka Hachimangu temple.
Morioka Hachimangu temple was the Nambus’ guardian deity protecting the castle town.
Its vermilion-lacquered main building in a majestic manner is worthy of the honor of the grandest shrine in Iwate Prefecture.
In the precincts of the shrine, gods of the 12-annual zodiac signs are worshiped of which I prayed to my zodiac sign.
After a few minutes walk, looking at Morioka Hachimangu shrine on my left hand side, I entered the ground with stone statues of 16 rakan and four nyorai (wisdom Buddha) where Soryu-ji temple used to be. It was built in honor of people who died from starvation during the regime of the Nambu domain.
Those statues curved by local craftsmen who enjoyed the domain patronage are rare pieces as not many statues were created by local stonemasons.
If you look at their expressions with this knowledge, they seem simple and calm, at least to me. In the park next to it, children were playing with playground equipments and shouting for joy while residents enjoyed walking as part of their everyday life. All these routines create a heartwarming scene.
While going through winding streets of the castle town, I headed to Daiji-ji temple where Kei Hara rests in the grave. Unlike an ordinary temple, its main gate is rather thick and charming with Chinese taste, which attracts visitors.
Natayacho near Daiji-ji temple is the origin of spring water “Seiryu-sui” and “Daiji Shimizu”. It is still used as domestic water although tap water is available.
“Seiryu-sui” located at the opposite corner of Daiji-ji temple was named after a legend of blue dragon lived in a big swamp nearby,
I saw residents coming to draw water one after another around the time of preparing dinner.
Daiji Shimizu is in Morioka Machiya having handed down old lifestyle, a few minute walk away from Seiryu-sui. The water is divided into sections; for drinking, washing rice and laundry that suggests residents still rely on it.
According to my original plan, I was supposed to stop here and return to JR Morioka station by bus departing from Morioka Hachimangu shrine.
However, one local I met at Seiryu-sui said I came Morioka 100 years after Takuboku Ishikawa’s death by a chance of fortune, and suggested I visit Morioka Takuboku/Kenji Seishunkan in Morioka Castle Remains Park, a memorial museum of well-known poets whose home town is this region.
Meeting strangers or changing a plan is one of pleasures of a trip.
Built for the Dai Kyuju Bank in 1910, the building, Norman architecture made of bricks with Western modern concept, has been restored and used as museum. It was designated as Important Cultural Property in 2003.
Leaving the museum for the main street, I saw Iwate Bank Nakanohashi Branch, another architecture representing Morioka designed by Kingo Tatsuno and Manji Kasai architectural firm, which have worked on buildings of Bank of Japan and Tokyo Station. It was built in 1911 for Morioka Bank and its original architecture still remains while being continuously occupied by a bank; it’s an extremely precious building.
As I was getting hungry, I headed to a diner serving “Morioka Reimen (cold noodles)” to finish my trip.
*The above course takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes by a woman wearing 4cm (1.5 inch)-heels.