This is day 8 of my Travel Chronicles: Summer 2023 series, working in Tokyo as a teen travel counselor during my first month (out of 3 months) in Asia. Check out the previous day’s blog post Getting to Tōno in Iwate Prefecture! Today, we discovered the quiet village of Tōno and explored Tōno Furusato Village, a reconstructed farming village, and a local temple.
I will truly never get bored of sleeping on futons on top of tatami mats. Staying at Ryokans (traditional Japanese inn) is something that should be done at least once, and Tōno’s Suikoen Ryokan is really the best place to do so. Breakfast was provided by the hotel, and was a delicious salmon set with lots of side dishes. Did you know that salmon is one of the most popular and traditional breakfasts that is served in Japan?
After breakfast, we headed to a grape farm for the teens to do their community service. American schools usually require a set amount of community service to be done by students, and being able to fulfill those requirements in the peaceful Japanese countryside seems like win-win to me. The teens learned how to pull weeds out and went down each row of vines helping the local farm. Tōno is known for their beautiful mountain landscape and it is really recommended to take it all in! If you are ever debating on what to do in Tōno, just take a walk anywhere in the area and you are sure to enjoy it!
After 2 hours, everyone worked hard and had been sweating in the sun with dirt all over their body and they were rewarded with a delicious Japanese curry rice lunch. Fun fact: the national dish of Japan is curry rice, and it is said to be eaten by Japanese people once a week!
We then headed to Tono Furusato Village, a traditional village a unique theme park that recreates Tono’s past rural village. There were many Thatched-Roof Farmhouses (Magariya), nature, animals, pond and koi fishes. Visitors can experience local folk craft, and regional cuisine, listen to folk tales and experience traditions handed down through the generations. It was a great way to step into the past and enjoy the mountainous nature. Their official website can be seen here. Out of all the things on what to do in Tōno, this place is truly unique and fun.
After the relaxing afternoon, we headed to Nanbu Shrine, a local shrine in Tono for a special private ceremony to make our wishes come true. The area around the shrine was also very beautiful as it was located at the entrance of Nabekura Park. We had the Kannushi, a traditional Shinto priest in Japan who serves at a Shinto shrine introduce us and teach us how to properly do the ritual.
The dinner was back at our Ryokan, Suikoen Ryokan with fish and meat being the main dish with many other side dishes. One of the side dish contained tuna sashimi that was out of the world. The pot that was used for the meat was really cool since we were able to light up a candle under it, and heat it up.
With our belly filled we headed to bed after relaxing at the common areas, either by playing games, taking baths and using the sauna. Today was rather a slower day, but the Tōno area is the perfect place to rewind after visiting the busy city life of Tokyo the previous days.
Follow my Travel Chronicles: Summer 2023 stories as I post my daily documentation of my 53 days on the road! I hope that this can inspire others who want to do something similar!
Previous Day: Getting to Tōno in Iwate Prefecture
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