Discover the best top things to do in Oshu, Japan including Kokusekiji Temple, Esashi-Fuijiwara Heritage Park, Shiraito Streets Exchange Center, Mizusawa Park, Shoboji Temple, Komagata Shrine, Mizusawa VERA Observatory, Takano Choei Memorial, Goto Shinpei Memorial, Mizusawa Horse Tracks.
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4.5 based on 18 reviews
Men wearing only their fundoshi in the mid winter was what drew me to this temple.
I spent half of my life living in the equator. Keeping myself warm in the winter itself is a feat.
The thought of men naked except the little piece of fundoshi, running around the snow for a satchel that contains good luck fascinates me.
I have to see this, I have to attend this festival even at the expense of losing one night's sleep.
This event, Kokusekiji Sominsai takes place on the 6th & 7th day of lunar new year, I attended the 7th day from evening till the next morning.
I had attended the Godaison Sominsai in Hanamaki early in that morning, and I have to admit it was not my intention to attend the night festival as well.
The freezing temperature in the morning was more than I could handle, I could only imagine the cold would be even worst in the middle of the night.
However Curiosity got the best of me. At JR MizusawaEsashi station, the tourist information counter provided me with all the information I required-pamphlets containing detailed information on how to reach this far away from the beaten path temple.
Buses were provided from both JR MizusawaEsashi and Mizusawa station.
Note the timing and try to arrive early as due to snow condition, trains may be delayed and in turn cause you to miss the bus service. It happened to me, and I had to wait out in the extreme cold which almost had me canceling this adventure.
I took the last train to JR Mizusawa and took the last bus to Kokusekiji.
By the time I reached there, the river dunking was over. The participants were now on the wooden platform made from piled logs, a fire was burning steadily under them. They were chanting(in Japanese of course) waving theirs lanterns to the rhythm of their chanting, encouraging and helping one another to hold on against the cold and smoke. It was snowing, temperature was steadily falling, the crowd was maddening. Camera clicking, flashlights blinding, people chanting, burning sticks waving....
I could not in details describe the night to you. I have no words to describe my encounters to you. It was too surreal, too bizarre.
I had dozed off on my feet in front of the burning platform under the falling snow and almost fell face flat into the burning logs because it was too cold to seek shelter in the temple.
The temperature then was minus 7 degree, without taking into consideration the wind factor, I was out in the cold in the middle of the night, I could not even turn back and abandon my quest because there was no transport out of this place till next morning 6:30am.
My body was totally numb. 3 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of leggings, 1 pair of jeans, 4 pieces of woolen top and a wind breaker were not enough to keep the freeze away.
When the cold was simply too much for me, I had asked myself "Am I just dumb or simply suicidal?"
However looking at the participants with nothing (except their loincloth) but their faith, pitting their endurance against nature.
Helpless yet defiant.
I did not follow the naked, jostling crowd to the spot where they wrestle for the satchel.
While I was waiting for the bus to arrive, a lone participant returned, apparently he has enough snow and cold for the day.
I also saw quite a number of participants from the earlier gominsai at Godaison here at kokusekiji.
Looks like running around in the buff during winter can be pretty addictive.
My final verdict for this impromptu adventure -
I'll be back because now I'm a believer.
4 based on 36 reviews
Esashi-Fujiwara Heritage Park (sometimes known as Esashi Fujiwara no Sato) was a crowd-pleaser, with something for everyone: traditional costumes and armor to try on, trick art, deer dances, and my favorite, the archery corner, which I could have done all day.
Enjoy the park for as long as you like, then pop to the nearby restaurant for some seriously tasty noodles. We went during the summer, so I went for Morioka Reimen and some apple ice cream.
We went by car, but if you don’t have one the easiest way is via taxi. The staff are friendly, eager to please, and foreigner-friendly. I’ll definitely bring my friends and family here the next time they visit.
3 based on 1 reviews
4 based on 16 reviews
Mizusawa Park is the largest park in the Mizusawa ward. It is a fantastic spot for cherry blossoms in springtime (Usually sometime in April to May in this area). It also houses a community center, single basketball hoop, track/soccer field, baseball stadium. There's a small animal area that houses peacocks and a monkey. There is a parking lot by the community center. There is also a shrine within the park as well where one can buy charms and fortunes. Also a small playground in the north park alongside some tennis courts.
4 based on 10 reviews
This is an impressive temple, not appearing at English language guides, at Iwate. The building itself is impressive, lovely with autumn leaves, and includes some important artifacts. Entrance is on the right side, where we change shoes to slippers, and walk upstairs by an adjacent corridor that protects us from the cold. Comment to TripAdvisor: How about specifying the name SHOHOJI also in Engish?
4 based on 8 reviews
4.5 based on 6 reviews
4 based on 6 reviews
4 based on 9 reviews
3.5 based on 10 reviews
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