Friday, June 30, 2006

Donald Keene Is Coming!

Donald Keene, Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature at Columbia University, author, translator and all around Japanologist will visit Iwate Prefecture on July 8th!

[Symposium announcement at Iwate Nippo Newspaper]

He will speak at the Hiraizumi Cultural Symposium 「平泉文化シンポジウム」 to be held at the Iwate Prefectural Hall 「県民会館大ホール」 in Morioka. The symposium will start at 1:00 and it is free but only 2,000 people can attend so you have to register.

To register send a postcard to -
〒020-8622 盛岡市内丸3ノ7、岩手日報社広告局「平泉文化シンポジウム」

with your name, age, address, occupation and phone number. You can also call them for more information at -

For complete information in Japanese just follow this link to the Iwate Nippo Newspaper.

Even if you are unable to attend the seminar you can learn more about Donald Keene on Wikipedia. The Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture and The Donald Keene Foundation for Japanese Culture are well worth visiting online!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Read the book now! Don't wait for the movie!

'Jomon' is the term used for the people who inhabited Japan from the end of the Paleolithic period to the beginning of the Yayoi period - roughly 16,500 years ago to 2,000 years ago. It is characterized primarily by the fantastic pots that have survived like this one from Niigata Prefecture on the cover of Junko Habu's book about them.

Ancient Jomon of Japan by Junko Habu - cover
[Ancient Jomon of Japan by Junko Habu]

In her book the author claims that the Jomon people were "the first in the world to have mastered the technology of transforming pliable clay into hard and durable containers." And what containers! They are huge and imaginatively shaped like no others you have seen!

The author is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley according to the blurb in the book. Not only does she discuss the details of ancient society, she also writes deftly about the politics of modern-day archaeology in Japan. While discussing many fascinating aspects of ancient Jomon society she comments on current issues such as the lack of gender studies in Japanese archaeology.

Tohoku contains some of the premier sites for appreciating Jomon culture - including the Sannai Maruyama site in Aomori. As for Iwate she discusses five sites including the Final Jomon Kunenbashi site in Kitakami City. A large number of clay masks and "stone swords" were found there. She devotes one entire page to illustrating some of these items!

Ancient Jomon of Japan by Junko Habu - p.150
[Ritual artifacts from the Kunenbashi site (Final Jomon; Iwate Prefecture]

A half page diagram of the Monzen site in Rikuzen Takata is given on page 187 and another full page is given to an illustration of the burial pattern at the Middle Jomon Nishida site on page 164. Of the 262 pages of text there are 11 pages that discuss Iwate Prefecture by name.

While there probably won't be a movie out anytime soon this is a good read for anyone interested in the details of archaeology in Japan. It is not too technical for the average layman and she discusses enough issues to keep you involved. You can buy it from for $29.99 USDollars + shipping for the paperback or at your local neighborhood book store no doubt!

It was published by Cambridge University Press on July 29, 2004 - two years ago today! Happy reading.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Economics of Dying

When you die in Japan your body is cremated and your ashes are put in your family cemetery - usually at a Buddhist temple. If you live in a big city like Tokyo or Osaka you might have a problem. The temple cemetery filled up long ago! There's no room for you. What to do. Some temples throw out their old dead if the family doesn't pay a 'maintenance fee' any longer and resells the land!

Chourenji - for sale - 長蓮寺
[New plots advertised at Chouren-ji in Maesawa]

Temples in the countryside don't have this problem. There is plenty of land - comparatively speaking! Many temples in Iwate are expanding their cemeteries and advertising aggressively. It's not only the locals who are buying but big-city dwellers take advantage of the low prices and large plots in their 'hometowns'. Chouren-ji in Maesawa Ward, Oshu City advertises three sizes for as little as 350,000 up to 550,000 yen!

[New stone at Manzou-ji in Daito Town]

Last month I stopped by Manzou-ji in Daito Town and found a priest hard at work spreading new gravel all around his temple. It seems the chief priest there had just reached a deal with a local stonecutter. From now on all the stones put up in their cemetery have to be supplied by that stonecutter - exclusively! In return the temple got two big, beautiful stone lanterns, a stone table and chairs, new stones for the priests who had died there, some flagstones and a LOT of gravel. The value of the free stone is apparently around 18 million yen!

Check the fine print before you make a deal!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Kenji World

Kenji World (as in Kenji Miyazawa, the famous writer) is an indoor aquatic park in Shizukuishi, near Morioka. It is a bit pricey but still a lot of fun.

Kenji World - Beach and Pool
Kenji World - Event Stage
[Kenji World - inside]

There are four water slides, including two that use inner tubes. The pool is huge and features a wave generating machine so you can user a body board at times. There is another pool on the second floor that flows around the building like a river. It has strange lights, windows looking down to the first floor and water showers you can pass through. There are also assorted wading pools, baths, saunas and a beach.

The pool is great but there are a few drawbacks. From time-to-time they have water aerobics classes and no one can play! I've tried to imagine a large water park in America stopping everything and leading everyone in an aerobics class! I think we might need it but I don't see the customers being very happy! They also make everyone get out of the pool for the bodyboarding and only one person can go at a time! Then if that person gets cold feet and just sits there nobody can do anything!!!

The only real warning I have is the haunted house. You've paid a lot of money to get in but now you have to pay another 300 yen to see the scary stuff - and it's not even a water ride. It's also not in the least bit scary to anyone over four and a half! My 10 year old son thought it was a total waste and he usually gets scared at the least little thing!

They have a variety of restaurants, snack bars and a rental shop. We ate at Wai Wai and it was pretty good. You pay by showing them the bar code on your wrist band so you don't have to carry money. The rental shop, though, is outrageous! They rent inner tubes and life rings and so on for about the price you would pay to buy them new at Toys R Us! Take your own!

Kenji World - Exterior
Kenji World - Front Porch
[Kenji World - outside]

It's easy to get to by car or bus. By car take Highway 45 West out of Morioka past AEON Mall, Morioka Handiworks Square and follow the signs. The road is pretty well marked. The best thing for most of us is to take the FREE shuttle bus from Morioka Station. It departs from bus stop number 9 on the West side of the station. That's the side with the Malios Building and the new prefectural office building. The bus leaves ever hour, on the hour, from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

Unfortunately their web site is only in Japanese but there is a discount coupon available if you fill out a short questionaire!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hanamaki Rose Festival

You'd better hurry - there is only one more week left for you to see all the gorgeous roses at the Hanamaki Rose Festival. The last day is July 2nd!

Hanamaki 211
[View of the gardens and fountain.]

There are hundreds of varieties from all over the globe elegantly displayed throughout the garden. The garden itself was designed by Kenji Miyazawa, the famous writer and educator from Hanamaki. There are winding paths and lush arbors everywhere.

But do try to go early. The gates open at 10:00 each day but the crowds don't really get there until around noon. Then you won't be able to find a parking space and you won't be able to walk around - just shuffle along at best! The garden is at Hanamaki Hot Spring, one of the more famous resorts in Iwate.

Roses from the Hanamaki Rose Festival
[Four kinds of roses at the Festival]

Besides the roses there are some herbs and other kinds of flowers. And if that doesn't get your attention I saw a lot of butterflies, bees, beetles and other varieties of wildlife!

The Hanamaki Hot Spring website has English, Chinese and Korean pages as well as Japanese! The page for the Rose Festival is in Japanese only. Unfortunately the discount coupon period hes expired - you will have to pay full price!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Out with the old, in with the new!

Out with the old, in with the new!
[Koizumi on the left and Ozawa on the right - no political pun intended?!?]

You'll need a crystal ball to find out who the next prime minister of Japan will be; or you can just wait and see. But since Mizusawa Ward, Oshu City native Ichiro Ozawa took over the leadership of Minshuto (The Democratic Party of Japan) recently, Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party hasn't looked so good!

The Asahi Newspaper calls Ozawa, "a hard-line conservative with a penchant for political manipulation." I'm not sure if that is good news for Japan or the world but it should be good for Iwate. It's called the pork barrel!

The last time an Iwatean held the prime minestership was back in 1980 - 82. That was Zenkou Suzuki from Yamada Town on the coast. He is given credit for bringing the bullet train to Morioka. Maybe so but Ozawa was in his cabinet at the time and he can take a lot of credit for that too. After all most of the bullet train stations in Iwate are in the Southern part nearer to Ozawa's hometown.

Stay tuned for further developments!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dr. and Mrs. Schroer

Mrs. and Dr. Schroer
[Cornelia and Gilbert Schroer]

Reverend Gilbert Schroer came to Japan as a missionary in 1922 with his wife, Cornelia. They lived and worked in Morioka from about 1924 after receiving language training in Tokyo and Sendai. They opened a school as well, the Morioka Christian Education Center.

Life in Japan was apparently much like it was in America. They lived in an American style home and ate American style food. Despite a high level of acceptance and even popularity they were arrested in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. According to news reports they were treated quite badly until August, 1942 when they were allowed to return home on the S. S. Gripsholm, a repatriation boat.

The couple returned to Japan in 1954 but lived in Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture. Mrs. Schroer also taught education at Miyagi College in Sendai.

The Iwate Buddy now has several newspaper article available online about them -
May 5, 1942 - The Lima (OHIO) News
April 22, 1944 - The Frederick (MARYLAND) Post
October 16, 1944 - Wisconsin Rapids (WISCONSIN) Daily Tribune
November 13, 1960 - The Lima (OHIO) News

Monday, June 19, 2006

Takuboku Ishikawa Poetry

Takuboku Ishikawa was a famous tanka poet from the Morioka area. He was born in 1886 and lived a hard life of teaching and writing to 1912 when he died of TB. The city of Morioka has honored him in various ways including building a walkway along the Kitakami River between the Kaiun and Asahi Bridges with stones along the way with his poems on them.

Ishikawa Stone
[One of his poems set in stone]

This picture is of the largest stone which has a poem something like;

The feelings in my heart in the time long ago,
I cannot express now.

Another of his poems is;

Like a kite cut from the string,
lightly the soul of my youth has taken flight.

When the City of Morioka built it's beautiful new bullet train station it honored him again. His handwriting was reproduced in large letters for the name on the front of the station.

[Morioka as written by Mr. Ishikawa]

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Pair of Butterflies

Summer brings out the wildlife in a big way. I was driving in Isawa last Sunday and saw a fox in the middle of the road! It took its sweet time moving along too. Here are a couple of butterflies I spotted recently.

Artogeia melete 638
[Artogeia melete - スジグロシロチョウ]

This is a common butterfly that occurs throughout Japan. I went to a remote Shinto Shrine near the Kitakami River in Esashi and found dozens of these flitting about the glade surrounding the shrine.

Ypthima argus - top
[Ypthima argus - ヒメウラナミジャノメ]

Another common butterfly that can be found everywhere in Japan. I found this one near the public library in Mizusawa.

If you want to see more bugs from Iwate take a look at my Iwate Bugs set on Flickr.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Comment Moderation

Thank you all who have or are about to comment! I am moderating the comments which means I have to read and approve them before they appear! Hope to hear from everyone!

Morioka Bicycle Patrol

When I first came to Japan I 'lost' six bicycles in two years. Always at train stations and always legaly parked. Looking back I think that maybe the bicycle patrol probably picked them up for some mysterious offense I'm totally unaware of.

Bike Patrol
[Bike patrol in front of Morioka Station]

In the area around Morioka Station the city sends out a patrol every morning to tag all the illegaly parked bikes. Afterwards a truck comes by to collect all the tagged bikes and haul them off to the impound lot. While they are not so vigilant the whole year round they have been particularly zealous these past two or three months.

OK, Any Questions?
[All about bike parking at Morioka Station.]

If you do leave a bike there and it gets carted away you can go to the impound lot behind the train station, pay ¥2,000, find it and get it back. Of course you'll need proof of ownership, such as a bicycle registration certificate!

There is an alternative, of course! You can park your bicycle at the city's underground parking area near the Kitakami River. It is only ¥100 a day and a quick four or five minute walk to the train station! There are discounts for students and it's cheaper if you buy two or three months at a time.

Bike Parking
[Underground parking area near the river]

Happy cycling!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


My Encyclopedia says that Summer starts on or about June 21st with the Summer Solstice. That's when the sun is farthest away from us!

But Tuesday evening at about 6:30 I heard an ice-cream truck going by with its raucous music blaring and bell clanging. For me Summer has started! I can wear shorts and a t-shirt, find bugs on the ground and see girls in bikinis. That's summer for me!

Summer Fun
[Advertisement for skin care products on Odori in Morioka]

It's also the rainy season, but if it's like most rainy seasons there will be some sun here and there so be sure and stock up on the summer fun products of your choice!

Monday, June 12, 2006

1906 - 100 Years Ago

1906 was not a very good year. Mount Vesuvius erupted destroying Naples, Italy; a large earthquake destroyed San Francisco in the United States; the crown jewels of Ireland were stolen and a typhoon and tsunami killed some 10,000 people in Hong Kong.

[Famine in Tohoku - from the Ft. Wayne (Indiana) News]

Iwate too had a tough time. The weather in 1905 was terrible with excessive rain and cold ruining the rice crop and destroying the silk industry. The war with Russia had just ended and thousands of soldiers and sailors returned home to find no jobs and no food. Many people were reduced to eating straw, roots and acorns.

The government sent aid as did several foreign countries such as The United States but they could not do everything. As a result wealthy, civic minded individuals provided work in the form of construction projects. Many kura, or Japanese storehouses, were constructed about this time. As late as 1910 the Ota house in Maesawa was built by otherwise unemployed Russo-Japanese War veterans.

Oota Residence - 太田家 (3)
[The Ota House in Maesawa]

The American press covered the famine extensively , albeit mostly on back pages. This was probably the first news of Iwate widely reported around the world!

[A Buddhist priest collecting alms]

Most of the press coverage seems accurate and fairly reported, but one newspaper in Oklahoma got a little carried away when trying to add a little local color. They published the picture shown above with the caption, "A BEGGAR HIDING HIS FACE FOR SHAME." In reality it is a Buddhist priest soliciting alms as they still do today all over Japan!

A few bits of good news were reported in 1906 as well. Rolls Rocy was registered; Alfred Dreyfus, wrongly convicted of treason in 1899, was exonerated and reinstalled in the French Army; President Theodore Roosevelt got a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating peace in the Russo-Japanese War and Devils Tower was made the first National Monument in the United States.

In Iwate the site of the ruins of Morioka Castle were turned into a park - Iwate Park.

Some newspaper articles -
1905, November 8 -
1906, January 10 -
1906, March 28 -
Rice Famine in Japan; 650,000 Now Eat Straw - Fort Wayne INDIANA News
1906, May 17 -
[Famine in Northern Japan] [original title missing] - Ada OKLAHOMA Evening News

Rainy Season

More Maple Leaf Droplets
[Water drops on a maple in Morioka - June 12, 2006]

The Asahi Newspaper said the rainy season began officially in Kanto and Southern Tohoku on June 9th, six days earlier than usual. It's been a bit wet up here in Northern Tohoku as well! It rained pretty good last night but today was mostly cloudy and dry. Unfortunately it rained in Germany on Japan's World Cup debut.

My Japanese friends and family are sad but I'm sure my Australian friends and co-workers must be jubilant. Congratulations to Australia on their 3-1 victory!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Iwate Graffiti

NAINE  at the Wisteria Bridge
['NAINE' written under a bridge in Oshu City]

There isn't a lot of graffiti in Iwate but it's out there. You can find it if you look around a bit. I often see it spray painted under bridges or on the sides of buildings. While the quality of the work can be quite good the local artists don't seem to go for the large, elaborate and colorful designs found in other parts of the globe.

Yami - Naine One - 闇 - Mizusawa
[Darkness - Naine One - 197]

Here is a large creation from under a bridge near my house in Oshu City. The large Chinese character in the middle is apparently 'yami;' darkness in English.

To the left is 'NAINE ONE' written in Latin letters. It is by far the most common tag I've found in Iwate and I suppose it must be the name of a gang! I've not seen a 'NAINE TWO' so I'm guessing it must mean that NAINE is number one. Naine can also be translated as, "There isn't any, you know," or something like that.

On the right, below the asterix, is 197 in Chinese characters; "一九七." Often numbers can be read as words and this one could be read as, "Don't come here." "いくな" in Japanese. The territorial implications are clear!

Below that is what I suppose to be the artist's signature. It's beyond my ability to make out! These are regularly painted over by the authorities. They have a boring grey paint they use which other paint washes off of easily.

CHILL - Morioka
[CHILL by Takahashi - Morioka]

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Illegal Vans

van backs
[A trio of tricked out vans in Morioka]

A white van much like the ones in this picture lives near my house. I regularly see others cruising around the streets and highways, parking at shopping malls and restaurants. The owners hold huge rallies on sunny Sunday afternoons in the park. The shops that do this customizing work advertize openly in widely circulated family-type magazines and newspapers. Yet, I'm assured they are quite illegal!

[A Disneyesque van last winter]

Some are plain and others are elaborately painted but in a land of predominately white Hondas and Toyotas they all stand out. My friends assure me that the owners are all members of bosozoku gangs. These are the hot-rodders who drive around late at night keeping us awake with their whining motorcycles and roaring cars. Whilst camping at the seaside one year we asked the campground manager if someone couldn't do something about the racket every night. We were assured that no one could do anything!

[The lengths they go to]

In the end I don't believe they are all hooligans. I have seen these vans pull into restaurants with entire families, including small children, pouring out. They seemed pretty normal to me. I think many of them are young people fed up with the repressive, depersonalizing society they are asked to conform to. This is one way of showing their individuality and thumbing their noses at society. And society seems to allow them this outlet!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Aeon has one mall in Morioka but now they are building another newer, bigger one on the same side of town! Does Morioka really need another mall? Most people I talk to don't think so but what do we know? Aeon is one of the most successful companies in Japan right now! I've heard they are also building a mall in Ichinoseki but I'm not going to rush down there and look for myself.

What Lies etween the Mountain and the Field
[Aeon Mall in Morioka]

The Morioka mall opened in August, 2003 and boasts 41,245 square meters of floor space with parking for 2,800 cars. Generally the newer malls are larger with over 77,000 square meters of space and parking for more than 40,000 cars. They are not especially commuter friendly. When the Morioka mall opened traffic backed up on the Tohoku Expressway every weekend for a kilometer or so!

Long Shadow
[Bus stop 10 at Morioka Station.]

There is a bus going to the mall from Morioka Station which takes about 15 minutes or so. Some buses go directly to the mall but others pass by on the highway in front. It used to be that if you asked the bus driver or staff about buses to the mall they would only tell you about the ones that went to the door. They wouldn't tell about the ones stopping directly across the street from the mall. You had to ask about those seperately using the name of the bus stop - 'Shimomaegata'! Now they have generally figured out that people are willing to cross the street and walk the half block across the parking lot to the mall.

Be sure and see their web pages in ENGLISH and JAPANESE for more information.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

LUSH comes to Morioka!

[The LUSH shop in Morioka Station]

Yes Iwate has turned green, lush and vibrant with the onset of Spring but this lush is not that, it's a store! And no, they don't sell cheap wine to all you alchoholics out there. What they do sell is soap. Apparently lots of it and of a very good quality too!

Accourding to their own website they started in England back in 1978 and grew from there. Here's what they say about themselves on their American site,

"Today we have 370+ shops around the world, We also operate mail order businesses from the UK, Canada, Australia, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Hungary, Germany, Taiwan and the United States. We hand-make our cosmetics in UK, Italy, Canada, South America and Japan, in our own production facilities, so that every product available in our shops or sent to you by mail is as fresh as it can possibly be because fresh products work better and use fewer preservatives. Our aim is to have the youngest, freshest products in the history of cosmetics."

It would seem they do everything right; no animal testing, no animal ingredients, lots of fruits, veggies and herbs inside and so on. Then they make their products in a variety of shapes such as cakes and pies, candies and fruits, and ice cream! Several people have told me how their products look so delicious they want to eat them!

The LUSH shop is on the second floor of Fes"an inside Morioka Station; you can't miss it.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Holland Island :: オランダ島

Yamada is a remote port town of around 20,000 people nestled deep in the heart of the Rikuchuu Seashore National Park. It is composed almost entirely of mountains which rise as high as 1,160 meters in the West and drop down to the sea on the Eastern seaboard in sheer cliffs dozens of meters high in some places.

It is connected to the outside world by National Highway 45 and the JR Yamada Railline. Both of which run North (to Miyako) and South (to Kamaishi) along the coast. There are no roads leading west, no passenger boats heading west and there is no airport! Well, there is an air base for the Self Defense Force but you and I can't use it!

The locals mainly occupy themselves with fishing and shipping, raising shellfish (oysters and scallops mostly) and a bit of farming (rice for the most part, but also gentians, lettuce, spinach and shiitake mushrooms). Which is to say they are bored stiff and the young people flee as quickly as they can and as far as they are able! But all of this combines to make Yamada a near paradise for the vacationing visitor!

The coastline is spectacular! There are back roads that wind along the coast providing wonderful scenic views; mountains with streams gushing down their sides to the sea below creating breathtaking waterfalls; a beach or two and campgrounds for the adventurous. Then there is the jewel of Yamada - Holland Island. It is tiny and you can only get there by boat for a month or two in the summer, but it is worth going out of your way for!

Holland Island fish
[Holland Island Fish]

Holland Island has no electricity, running water or any of the modern conveniences that clutter our daily lives! There is a dock for the boat, a restroom, a small food stall selling cold drinks and snacks, and a sandy beach. The water is clear and clean and full of fish, eels, crabs and more. You will want to snorkle here all day!

The Island received it's name after a Dutch ship stopped here on July 29, 1643, the Breskence (pardon my spelling but I've only seen the name in Japanese!). The story that has been told for a long time is that the ship stopped here looking for food and water. At that time the country was closed to foreigners but the locals let them stay on the island. It is now known that the ship was part of a larger fleet cruising the coast of Hokkaido and Honshu looking for gold!

The Breskence or one of its sister ships stopped again a few years later. The locals became suspicious of their activities and tried to get them to come ashore so they could arrest them. The sailors wouldn't leave their ship so finally the locals decided on a ploy. They loaded their prettiest girls onto small boats and sent them out to the Breskence. This got their attention and the captain and some of his sailors came ashore. They were arrested and brought to Morioka castle with their hands tied. Lord Nanbu sent a messanger to Edo (Tokyo) with the news and a query as to what he should do with them. The Shogun asked that they be delivered to him and they were.

The shogun supposed they were here to spread Christianity and interrogated them for weeks. Finally convinced that they were merely harmless treasure seekers he released them to the Dutch community in Nagasaki. The captain returned home and wrote an account of his experiences which still survives.

They travelled the length of Japan from the far North to Edo and then to Nagasaki in the West more than 350 years ago when the country was closed to foreigners. I wish CNN could have interviewed them for a special program!

New Parking Laws

Today, June 1st, a new law went into effect throughout Japan to regulate parking. It is now illegal to park your car in the street! The law affects cars, delivery trucks and everything else except taxis, I`m told. Apparently, too, the police are not the only ones who can enforce this law - private security firms, city officials and so on can give you a ticket! If you`re sitting in your car by the side of the road and a police car pulls up behind you you`d better get out of there quickly! Stepping out of the car guarentees you a ticket and sitting too long as well.

[Police 'copter over Suwa Shrine in Kitakami]

I would not have known about it except I noticed a disproportionate number of police helicopters, airplanes and patrol cars out yesterday! I thought some huge manhunt was on for escaped convicts or something! It turns out they are taking this new law seriously! I wonder when they will start cracking down on the illegal activity that really annoys me and are dangerous - like speeding, running red lights, holding babies while driving, talking on the cell phone while driving, parking in handicapped spaces and well, a lot more!

Today I parked illegally by the side of the road when I saw some geraffitti I wanted to take a picture of! No one caught me, fortunately.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Happy Birthday Morioka Park?

Iwate Park is 100 years old this year!

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear IMwoartieoka Park,
Happy birthday to you!

Castle Path
[Path in Iwate Park]

What? What's this IMwoartieoka Park? It's the confusion of "Iwate Park" and "Morioka Park". It seems the mayor of Morioka has come up with an idea to change the name of Iwate Park to Morioka Park or Kozukata Park. His idea is to raise the profile of Morioka.

I wonder about that, though. I've noticed that most people in Japan have only a vague idea of where either Iwate or Morioka are! Ask a New Yorker where Wichita or Kansas are and you might get an,"Out West somewhere" at best!

Could he even do it if he wanted to? Maybe. I wonder if the governor or the people could have a say in it? Nah.

Whatever the name, it's beautiful.