Journeys through Japanese legends

Sannai-Maruyama Special Historical Site

Tono, a city surrounded by the mountains of Michinoku, is a “treasure trove of folktales” known as “The Legends of Tono” by ethnologist Kunio Yanagida. Spots associated with characters that appear in old stories, such as zashikiwarashi (spirit-like beings), kappa (river goblins), and oshirasama (a guardian deity) are scattered throughout the city, and you can enjoy a wondrous travel time there as if you had suddenly wandered into another world.

Kappabuchi, the stage of kappa legends

Among the various other-worldly creatures that appear in the “The Legends of Tono”, the kappa are particularly frequent. The most famous stage of kappa tales is the stream that runs behind Jokenji Temple in Tsuchibucho, Tono, which is commonly known as Kappabuchi. It is reported that many kappa live there, surprising people and playing mischief. The area is thick with trees, and it seems that kappa are about to appear at any time. There is a small shrine dedicated to the god of breasts on the river bank, as well as a kappa monument.

The Tsuzukiishi Stones that appear in the “The Legends of Tono”

There are strangely shaped megaliths in the mountains of Ayaoricho, Tono City, which appear in eleven of the “The Legends of Tono”. According to legend, Musashibo Benkei, a Buddhist priest renowned for this strength, lifted the stones to create these structures. The size of the caldera stone placed over the two smaller stone pedestals is 7 m wide, 5 m deep, and 2 m thick. You will be floored by the magnitude of this feat when you stand in front of this structure.

Hitsumi, a local rustic food

This is a kind of “suiton” (flour dumplings), a local food eaten widely in Iwate Prefecture. Tono’s hitsumi is a rich chicken soup that tastes exquisite.

Anatooshiiso on the Goishi coast

A small distance from Tono lies the Goishi coast of Ofunato City. This is a scenic spot where you can stroll along the coastline while being surrounded by the sound of the surf. Anatooshiiso, a pine tree topped rock formation with holes, is not to be missed.


Location Tono City of Iwate Prefecture
About 1 hour by airport liner from Iwa Hanamaki Airport (JR Tono Station)
Inquiries Tono City Tourism Association
Tel: 0198-62-1333

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