Tono Trip - July 2016

Introduction: After coming back from the U.S., the connection between myself and Texas stays. So when I heard Woodlands High School students in Japanese program are coming to Tono, I decided to volunteer. (done)

7/1: Going to Tono

From: To: Depart Arrive Note: Cost
Home Hoshigaoka 5:15am 5:25am Taxi  
Hoshigaoka Nagoya 5:37am 5:56am City Subway  
Nagoya Tokyo 6:20am 8:13am Hikari 500  
Tokyo Shin-Hanamaki 8:48am 11:54am Yamabiko 43  
Shin-Hanamaki Tono 12:24pm 1:05pm Hamayuri 3  

From Nagoya to Tono

I woke up at 4:30am, put away my futon bed, stretched my body and get ready for the day. The taxi has arrived at home 15 minutes before the appointment time. So I had to make the driver wait while I went to nearby convenience store to grab my breakfast before I get on it. It took only 10 minutes to get to Hoshigaoka subway station. I walked down the stairs to the platform to catch a subway train to Nagoya, which was not so packed. (done)

To Tokyo: Hikari 500 Nagoya (6:20am) - Tokyo (8:13am)

Arriving at JR Nagoya station prior to 6:00am, I did not know that they close the gates to the platform for Shinkansen until 6:00am. The gates opened at 6:00am, and I proceeded to the platform. Because my tickets have limitation that I can use either Hikari or Kodama only, I was planning on using Hikari 502 which leaves Nagoya station at 6:37am but since I am here already, why not using the one earlier which is Hikari 500.(done)

Hikari 500, 6:20am Nagoya - 8:13am Tokyo  6:12am

 The train left on time at 6:20am and began heading to Tokyo. On the way, it made several stops and the outside looked hazy under morning sun, and the Mt. Fuji was cloud covered. The train arrived Tokyo on time. (done)

  6:28am, train moving under morning haze.

To Shin-Hanamaki: Yamabiko 43 Tokyo (8:48am) - Shin-Hanamaki (11:54am)

After arriving at Tokyo station, I need to change the train to Tohoku Shinkansen line so I walked down from the platform and change to the platform 22 via an underpath. From a tourist's view, Tokyo looked busy as usual. Getting on Yamabiko 43, which departed at 8:48am. (done)

Yamabiko 43 at Tokyo station

The car was packed with a group of folks looks like going on a company trip. As the train move through Tokyo area, the cloudy weather continued but the sky was getting cleared as the train making a stop at Utsunomiya at 9:40am. I got hungry so I dag into my early lunch. (done)

Gomoku Wappa Meshi 10:14am

Many people got off at Sendai, including the group so the car became very quiet. While the train moves up north, I was looking up the sunny sky, and exchanging emails with job agents. The train was passed by other faster one maybe twice on the way to Shin-Hanamaki, Soon the train arrived at the destination at 11:54am on time. (done)

11:33am, speeding through Tohoku region.

To Tono: Hamayuri #3 Shin-Hanamaki (12:24pm)  - Tono (1:05pm)

Stepping out from the train at Shin-Hanamaki, this is the furthest north I have come on Shinkansen train. To get to Kamaishi Line, I had to get out from the station building once, following the sign. Took an underground path to cross the adjucent road to the otherside, then I was able to go up at the platform with a single track running as far as I can see. There is still a time for the train to come to I was just hanging out by looking around where is not populated. The train approached from west, and get on the car #2 which is a non-reserved car. (done)

Waiting for a train to come at Shin-Hanamaki station for local train.

 The train moved in countryside surroundings. I just watched green rice field, a few houses along side of the train track with green mountains on the background. The diesel powered train stopped at nearly every stations. It was a nice travel under sunny summer sky. After a 30 minutes ride, the train slowed down, and it crossed a river then soon arrived at the platform of Tono station. (done)

On the way to Tono

The train arrived at Tono

Tono Sightseeing

After arriving at the station, I stored my bags in a coin locker for 300 Yen, which were several available. I still have time until my friends arrive so decided to go for a sightseeing.

Tono Station 1:12pm

I picked up a rental cycle for 620 Yen (3 hours) at tourist information center at the station and left. I am not used to the kind of bicycle, and riding without a helmet, it's a bit uncomfortable. Took a road toward nearby intersetion to the north, within 20 minutes or so, I was riding bike in a countryside where open field to my both left and right under sunny sky, where I can only see rice fields and it was just so nice.

While feeling cool breeze, I was able to keep going for a while. Followed the signs posted along the way and got off from major road and steep hill has began. It was hard but I get to see a mill at Yamaguchi around 2:00pm. On the way back, I stopped at Dannohana, Kizen Sasaki's birthhouse, and Denderano.

I came back to the major road, headed a little north then this time toward west. There is a Shrine which is displaying a man figure... On the was back to the station, I stopped by at a must visit place which is Kappabuchi, this small creek was creepy quiet and the water flows so calmly, I guess the legend of Kappa maybe true.

After the sightseeing, I biked back to the station to pick up a rental car, which was a Subaru Exiga. I waited for my friends who are arriving at 5:00pm. (done)

Subaru Exiga, seats for 7 people. 4:38pm

The train arrived on time and I picked up several friends to the center, I am glad that I have a big car. I drove on the road where I was just riding on a bicycle to the Mirai Dukuri College. I found that people live locally drive a lot faster than the legal speed limit so many cars passed mine. Somehow we arrived at the destination, and all checked in. We settled at a conference room but soon realizing that we do not have much time before students come, I hit the road again and made a stop at a convnieince store to grab my dinner.

A quick dinner before  6:23pm

Welcoming Students, Grocery Shopping

Students arrived 7:10pm

The students from The Woodlands High School arrived on a bus after 7:00pm, the bus was just big enough to carry all the students and their bags. For tonight, they had a tour in the facility at first, followed by a welcoming ceremony. As soon as it was done, I drove to a grocry store near Tono station with friends, but the place was already closed. I drove to another location, which was still open. We bought a lot of groceries. The collage kitchen has certain cookware, including pots and ricecookers so this should allow us to cook breakfast and dinner. Drinks can be kept cold at the refrigerator.(done)

Grocery store (9:00pm)

I went upstairs and secured my futon space just outside the room. I called good night and turned off the light but I guess all high school students everywhere are alike (no differnce from Japanese...). They started to talking, like, shut up, no you shut up kind of jokes to fake farting. I guess they are good friends each other and enjoying their summer vacation. Not sure what time I fell sleep but nice to be in the middle of nature with a lot of strange tales.

2016/07/02: Tono Trip

Tono Museum and Hayachine Shrine

I woke up at 5:00am as usual, it must have been a hot night for them despite of all the windows being open. Stretched my body at hallway a bit then started the car to pick up college students and another helper at Tono station. The weather was cloudy and expected to be rainy. The mountains far away was overcasted by foggy air. I made two trips, the first group was six college students, and somehow I did not quite catch the lady who was coming to help us. (done)

Driving to Tono Station to pick college students up. (6:00am)

Prepared breakfast for students with other members, then start waking them up. They had choice of cereals, riceballs, or bread. After the breakfast, we get ready for the day, and students left the building via a bus provided. I had to carry several people since the bus did not have enough room for all. Drove toward the downtown and the first stop was the Tono Museum, I get to see artifacts of local cultures from the past time, also including the draft and the first edition of the Legends of Tono.




Tono Draft

Tono 1st edition

National TV

Washing Machine


Farming Equipment




Hayachine Shirine

After leaving the museum, the bus headed to Hayachine Shrine. I had to follow the bus going on a winding road fast where I have never been so I am not sure what's ahead. This is not so nice treatment for a guy who just got drivers license in Japan... (done)

Koide Bridge 11:19am

We took a break by a bridge for quick lunch, students get to play in a river. Soon we proceeded to Hayachine shrine

Drove a short distance to the shrine.  The rain began to come down as we walk down the path at the shrine, but it was okay. After the shrine visit, we moved to a building nearby where we get to see Kagura, a traditional dance.

Getting on a bus, and I followed them back to the town.

Densho En

The last stop of the

Drove under slight rain and come back to the collage. In the evening, they had an exchange event with local students, which I had to join in. After the event, I headed for shopping for the second day under rain.

Took shower after coming back to the college then went to bed at 11:00pm.

... late dinner

2016/07/03: Hiraizumi Trip

To Hiraizumi

Woke up at 5:00am, get ready for the day. Everything moves quick in the moring, There were three vans to take people to the train station, but not enough for the collage students. So I took my rental car to the station. They found a discounted ticket for Hiraizumi visit, a regional day pass was available at 2,460Yen (compare from 3,300Yen) so I picked with no excuse.


 Took students to Tono station The train took us to Hanamaki, changed to Tohoku main line to Hiraizumi Walked to Chusonji. Come back to the station, had lunch, Walked to Takadake Gikeido, Walked back to e station Took train back to Hanamaki, then changed to Kamaishi line. I was able to see SL which was returning from Kamaishi at yesterday's event.

7/3 Hiraizumi Woke up at 5:00am Had breakfast at ? Caught train leaving Tono station, they were selling Came back to Tono Made first trip to spa Went back to station again Picked up the second group Took the first group In the evening The last was the storytelling by local elderly in the club They had BBQ party


The train came in to Tono station on time, getting on and it left at 6:48am. The train moved on

Police Box looke like Kappa

 Tono (6:48am) - Hanamaki (7:53am)

Hanamaki (7:58am) - Hiraizumi (8:41am)

Local train to 7:58-8:41 花巻→平泉

Switching to a local train toward? The train moved under cloudy weather, I hope there won't be any rain

Hiraizumi station

After arriving at Hiraizumi station, we walked to Chusonji Temple. It was a few miles and going uphill. From the entrance of the Temple, there are series of places until stopping at Hongo

Musashibo Benkei's tomb



Lunch, going back to Tono.

After the visit to the temple, we walked back to Hiraizumi station and lunch break started.

Buckwheat noodles at 12:30pm

I found myself a bit of free time so I walked to Takadake Gikei


Where Benkei's Tachiojo took place?

Coming Back

After a wait at the station lobby, we are allowed to be on the platform, getting on the train which was leaving at 13:52 to Hiraizumi. The outside was showing the sign of The train arrived on time and we needed to change to another platform

Hiraizumi (13:52) - Hanamaki (14:35)

Hanamaki (14:41) - 15:43 (Tono)

Changed train back to Kamaishi Line, the diesel train began to move toward Tono. On the way back, we were lucky that we get to see the steam locomotive coming from the other way. I was amazing.

Steam Locomotive running



After arriving back at Tono station, I picked up a group of students to a spa then returned to the station again to pick up one more group. So total of 14 people I took them there. I returned to the college with them, had dinner (Cupped Fried Noodles) then the storytelling session has started. It was an event involving the locals and American high school students reading the stories in both English and Japanese. The last part was by the local storytelling elder.  The whole thing ended around 9:00pm

Kataribe gathering

, a BBQ party followed. Going to bed around 11:00pm

The sky was not clear so I did not get to see much of stars in the sky. Going to bed around 11:00pm, tomorrow I will go back to crazy populated metropolitan area. 

2016/07/04: Last Day, coming back to Nagoya


I woke up at 5:00am, stretched my body and get ready for the day. Had breakfast with all the students and have them pack up.

Left the place around 8:30am, I followed the bus carrying them to a local elementary school. They performed Storytelling session and Arrived at Leaving Tono at1:?? On a Changed to Shinkansen at Shin hanamaki

8:30am, departing



11:06am, Woodlands High students leaving Tono

After they left, other members were lead by local guide for a half day tour, I have until 1:00pm before catching the train.

The tree where the legend of Samuto's Old Lady

Thanks for your service.

I also stopped by at Fukusenji temple

Coming back to Nagoya

From: To: Depart Arrive Note: Cost
Tono Shin-Hanamaki 13:06 13:58 Local Train  
Shin-Hanamaki Tokyo 14:19 17:24 Yamabiko 50  
Tokyo Nagoya 20:03 22:08 Hikari 33  
Nagoya Hoshigaoka        
Hoshigaoka Home        


While I wait for the train, I grabbed my lunch and drinks at a convinience store in the station.

Local train to Shin-Hanamaki 13:06-13:58

Train arriving at Tono, heading toward Shin Hanamaki 13:06-13:58

My lunch, just a bit of alcohol in my body... 1:03pm

The train to Shin-Hanamaki came in on time, took a seat to relax and watched the countryside scenary while the train slowly making its way to Shin-Hanamaki.

 I am heading back to Nagoya now. The train made several stops on the way to Shin-Hanamaki. Tono area is also known for a story of Kenji Miyazaki, a night on a galaxy train.

Returning back to Hanamaki

1:55pm, 1:50pm


At Shin Hanamaki Station

To Tokyo: Yamabiko 50 Shin-Hanamaki (14:19) - Tokyo (17:24)

Walking out from the local train and thru the underground tunnel to Shin-Hanamaki station fro switching to bullet train.

 I walked into the building and arrived at the platform for Shinkansen. Yamabiko 50 came in on time and left at 2:19pm. I get on the last car which the exterior is painted in red

Yamabiko 50 at Shin-Hanamaki station



Getting on Yamabiko at the car The train moved on Cloudy at Fukushima Raining after Koriyama, and continued that way until getting to Ueno station, the train moved in metropolitan area.

Getting off at Tokyo terminal 5:25pm


After the train arrived at Tokyo, I called my friend I know from Houston to have a dinner.

 We started from 18:00 and spent about 1.5 hours catching up, the dinner is on me since he still has not employed yet. I walked to Shinkansen platform after the dinner

Getting on Hikari 533 leaving at 8:03pm

Hikari 533 at Tokyo station

The train was not packed so I was able to get a seat easy. I used to get on this train and standing at non-reserved car until passing Shizuoka station.

 The train moved quietly but in I arrived at Nagoya on time ar 10:08pm.

After getting off the train, I checked the timetable and found that there is bus to home departing in less than 10 minutes. So I hurried to the bus terminal and made it two minutes before the departure. The bus cruised through the downtown Nagoya under the dark of the night, getting on an express way and took me to the stop nearby my home. Walked home from there and took shower once I am at home, prepared my bed and went to sleep by midnight. (done)

Miraidukuri College


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