Walk through Morioka's Architectural Past and Present

Walk through Morioka's Architectural Past and Present
Contributing Writer
| 2 min read

All it takes is about an hour and a half on the bullet train to get from Tokyo to Sendai, the biggest city and de facto capital of the northern Honshu region known as Tohoku. While Sendai has its must-see attractions, the more inquisitive traveler may wish to venture further north about forty minutes on that same bullet train to Morioka. It is here in this small city where historical and small city charms await those looking to get off the beaten path.

View from above

View from Marios

Stepping off the train at Morioka Station, do yourself a favor and ascend Marios, which is just a minute or two’s walk away from the west exit. The top floor’s (free) observatory gives you a commanding view of the city. It’s not a very large city, but it’s the biggest thing around for nearly 200 kilometers. Large mountains buffet the city on either side, and winter brings a snowy spectacle.

The castle that once was

Castle wall

Make your way back through the station and up to Morioka Castle Park. This should take about 25 minutes, a good portion of which will be through an interesting shopping arcade. The castle, alas, has long gone the way of all things, but the reinforcing walls are largely in place, and it is worth the walk to the top for a quick, ponder-friendly visit. While there is not much to look at in the way of built structures here, those with an appreciation for gardens will find much to be pleased about.

Fast forward to the Meiji Era

Iwate Bank

Just a few minutes’ walk from the park is one of the most iconic buildings in Morioka, the Iwate Bank Building. This was made completed in the 44th year of the Meiji Era, which would be 1911 for those playing along with the Western calendar. With Morioka having been spared WWII devastation, historical buildings like this red brick specimen are relatively plentiful.

Time for a shrine

walk through morioka's architectural past and present | time for a shrine

It’s a pleasant fifteen or twenty minute’s walk to Hachimangu Shrine. Hachiman is the god of war, and this shrine is sure to appease the deity. The grand structure houses a number of fine artifacts, but do also let yourself wander around the periphery for some more interesting sights. Speaking of sights, the view from the top of the grounds provides an intimate one of the neighborhood below.

From shrine to merchant home

Morioka Machiya Museum

Only about ten minutes of walking is all it takes to get to the Morioka Machiya (merchant home) Museum. This recently completed living museum allows you to walk through restored large home from generations past. There’s some shopping and a cafe, as well as some exhibits to peruse. These homes are grand and elegant both inside and out, and deserve more than a few minutes of your time for some close examination. No charge to enter, so there’s no need to hesitate.

Been there, enjoyed that

After a whirlwind tour of Morioka like this, you’re going to walk away a learned, cultured soul, or at least have started on the path in that direction. Along the way, you’ll see how the people of Morioka live today, and some of the structures they lived in one, two, three, or sometimes even further generations past. For a city that looks fairly generic from the top of Marios, there’s a lot to breathe in.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Kevin is a passionate writer and the visionary behind Pinpoint Traveler, a travel planning venture. Although born in the United States, he decided to live abroad. Having resided in Japan for nearly...Read more

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