Ichinoseki () is a city in Iwate Prefecture in the north eastern part of the main island (Honshu) in Japan. While the city merged in 2006 with surrounding municipalities, it is still not a very large town, and the downtown area which contains most entertainment facilities is compact. NEC, Sony and Fujitsu General Electronics are the main employers, with their factories providing work for mostly Brazilian migrants. The city has warm summers and cold winters, so dress appropriately for the season.
From Sendai, there is a bus that goes to Ichinoseki on the hour. One-way is ¥1500, and round-trip is ¥2700. 80 minutes. Board in front of Sakurano department store on Aoba street, near the station's west exit.
The downtown is accessible on foot, but bicycles are available for rent at the bicycle parking lot to the left of the station's west exit. Look for the Rentakun (レン太君) sign next to the office. The station also has a taxi pool and is a hub for the city's buses. Trains on the Ofunato Line access the more rural areas of Ichinoseki.
During the cherry blossom season in early spring, Tsuriyama (釣り山), a large hill on almost a straight path west of the station, is lit by lanterns at night and is beautiful during the day as the trees bloom. Outside of cherry blossom season, the paths up the hill and the small park at the summit offer a pleasant place to explore and look at the city from above. According to local legend, the outcropping of rock and earth at the top of the hill was once a signal fire tower during the era when Ichinoseki had just been brought under Kyoto rule.
The town of Higashiyama, which has been a subdistrict of Ichinoseki since the merger, offers Geibikei (猊鼻渓, Lion's Nose Gorge). A ten-minute walk from Geibikei Station on the Ofunato Line brings you to the gorge, where flat-bottomed boats take you upstream past Buddhist rock carvings. Caves are located in Higashiyama, and according to legend were a hideout for Japanese Christians during the Edo period.
phone: +81 191-29-3180The permanent collection features a wide variety of objects and artifacts from around the city and prefecture, including a katana exhibit. They also feature special exhibits.
phone: +81 191-47-3303A 350 million year old cave (formed in the Paleozoic Era), said to be one of the oldest caves in Japan. It was discovered in 1980 and contains many interesting rock formations and fossils.
Haishiwa ShrineSituated at the top of a densely wooded hill, it is truly breathtaking, not only due to the giant, thousand-year-old trees at the top, but the incredibly long flight of stairs you must climb to get there.
phone: +81 191-62-2255address: 28-7 Unazawa Okago Fujisawa-choDuring the days when Christianity was banned, 300 Christians and missionaries were brought here and killed here where the Memorial Park is located. The small museum displays the history of Christianity in Okago and in the greater Tohoku Region. Other features of the park include the Okago Christian Martyrdom Memorial Kurusu Museum housing three Crucifixion statues (closed in winter), History Trail with quotes and letters along the path from various Christian religious figures, and Okago Church. See also Christian sites in Japan.
Donque is similar, located on the edge of the downtown. It has a vaguely "Italian" feel to it, but has a wide variety of alcohol. To get there, turn right after exiting the station and walk straight until you can see the slope that allows cars to pass under the train bridge. The second-last block has Donque on the corner. Look for wine barrels and bottles.
Abanzale is the most popular bar for the youth of Ichinoseki, due to its bi-weekly events such as hip-hop night and small dance floor. The music is usually hip hop, but on quite nights you can hear jazz. The English-speaking owner is very friendly, plus he's a DJ. To get there, walk down O-machi to Top Wellness, and turn left. Abanzale is the only bar on the street, and will have a light out front on it's sign. If you are younger and want to have fun in Ichinoseki, definitely go to Abanzale, its your best shot.
Bothy is a very nice little bar. To get there, walk straight out of the station, down and up the underground walkway and it's on your right on the second floor, up some stairs. The food is great and the alcohol selection is nice. Plus, they usually play old rock and roll and the like (think Beatles).
Sugar Bar is another great place. To get there, walk straight out of the station, down and up the underground walkway, turn right at the traffic lights, walk for 3 or 4 minutes and it's on your left, up some stairs on the second floor. They have (probably) the best alcohol selection in Ichinoseki. The master and mama are very friendly, and the mama makes some of the best pasta and pizza in the city. Plus they serve delicious raw ham cut right at the counter. The music is almost always jazz. Lastly, you can get some nice cigars here, if you are interested.
After those places there are, of course, dozens of hostess bars and snacks all around the station. If you are a visitor who doesn't understand hostess bars, don't go. If you know the score, then have at it. Sone of the more popular places are Ageha, Cruise, and Ichigo. (Oct 2009)
Ichinoseki Green HotelClean, has a in-house restaurant.
Sunroute HotelClean, has a in-house restaurant and also comes with free high speed internet in the rooms.
There are also a number of other small hotels and ryokan located throughout the city, including one that is the exact same ryokan where Emperor Meiji stayed during his trip to the north, give or take a few fires, floods, and complete rebuildings.