Jodogahama is the most spectacular place along the Rikuchu-kaigan Coast of Iwate’s Miyako-shi. In Japanese Jodo means “Paradise”. With the striking contrast of the lush blue sea against the beauty of the sharp jagged pale rhyolite rocks, it’s no wonder this place has been given the name of the Buddhist “Paradise”. Within the sea and the rocks this paradise hides a mystical place. The Blue Cave offers an unbelievable and unforgettable experience.
To get there you’ll need to strap on a helmet, a lifejacket and take a little ride on a small fishing boat called the Sappa boat. As you make your way over high waves, you’ll come to a small opening between rugged cliffs and slowly enter. It’s a thrilling experience. When you look back at the small narrow opening in the cliffs that you just bent your body to squeeze through, you’ll be mesmerized by the breathtaking emerald green and cobalt blue colors of the crystal-clear blue water. On top of that, you’ll be greeted by your own reflection dancing on the water’s surface.
Fares: 1,500yen per person for 20min Sappa Boat Cruise (Jodogahama Marinehouse) *No reservations, boats may also not be able to leave port due to weather conditions
Access: 15min from Miyako Station (JR Yamada Line/ Sanriku Railway) by bus, 5min walk from the Jodogahama Visitor Center
URL: http://j-marine.com/sappa/index.html (Japanese)
According to legend, the limestone cave is believed to have originated in ancient times when a large dragon burst out from Mount Iwayama, shattering the mountain as it ascended to the heavens. The dragon left a massive hole in the earth which began to gush with water. With a depth of 35m, the underground lake was named “Dragon Blue” for its beautiful sparkling crystal-clear blue water. Of the cave’s 3,600m (2.2 mile) length, 700m (half a mile) is available to explore. The temperature inside the cave throughout the year is about 10 to 11ºC (50 to 52ºF), so even in summer you’ll need a jacket.
Hours: 8:30am-6pm May-Sep, 8:30am-5pm Oct-Apr, Open year round
Access: 2-hr 10min from Morioka Station (JR Tohoku Shinkansen) by the JR Tohoku “Morioka-Iwaizumi ( Ryusendo )” Line bus
Admission: Adults (High School students & above) 1,000yen, Children (Elementary & Junior High School students) 500yen
Yamagata has one of Japan’s most well-known sacred places for mountain worship, the Dewa Sanzan or the “Three Mountains of Dewa”. This ancient shamanistic training practiced by Buddhist monks is called Yamabushi. So, what do you say to a little pilgrimage of spiritual enlightenment?
It’s sure to be a different experience than sightseeing by bus or car. The easiest route is the Mount Haguro Pilgrimage route beginning from the Zuishinmon gate leading up to the mountain summit. The climb is 1.7km (1 mile) and should take you about 90 minutes to reach the top. This particular pilgrimage dates back to the Edo period. Along your way you will come across the famous Mount Haguro Goju-no-to (five-story pagoda). The Michelin Green Guide Japan gave this scenic path its top honor of three stars. As you climb the 2,446 steps to spiritual discovery, taking in the beauty of rows of magnificent cedar trees which are between 350-500 years old, it’s easy to see why this area is regarded so highly.
Climbing Mount Haguro
Access: 50min from Tsuruoka Station (JR Uetsu Line) by bus bound for Haguro-sancho (Summit of Mount Haguro)
Kamaishi / Tono:
90 minutes from Tohoku Shinkansen Shin-Hanamaki Station to Kamaishi Station by Local Line / 60 minutes from Shin-Hanamaki Station to Tono Station by Local Line
Sakata / Tsuruoka / Dewasanzan:
1 hour 50 minutes from Joetsu Shinkasen Niigata Station to Tsuruoka Station by Local Line. /35minutes fromTsuruoka Station to Sakata Station by Local Line / 50minutes from Tsuruoka Station to Dewasanzan (Hagurosan) by bus