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FAQ about Iwate

FAQ about Iwate

Visit Japan tourist information offices

Iwate/Morioka Regional Tourist Information Center 019-625-2090
Iwate Tourism Association (Malios Building) 019-651-0626
Morioka Tourist Information Center (Plaza Odette) 019-604-3305
Ichinoseki Tourism Association 0191-23-2350
APPI Foreign Tourist Information Office 0195-73-6401
Hiraizumi Tourist Information 0191-46-2110
Hanamaki Tourism Association 0198-29-4522
Tourist Information (JR Hanamaki Station) 0198-24-1931
Tourist Information Center (JR Shin-Hanamaki Station) 0198-31-2244
Shizukuishi Tourism & Local Products Center 019-692-5138
Michi-no-Eki Ishidoriya 0198-45-6868
Michi-no-Eki Tono Kaze-no-Oka 0198-62-0888
NEXCO East Maesawa Service Area Information (Inbound)
NEXCO East Maesawa Service Area Information (Outbound)


Foreign Currency Exchange

In Iwate, you can change currency at bank branches displaying “Foreign Currency Exchange” signs and at some hotels. The currencies handled by each bank vary. Check the Accommodations Page for hotels with currency exchange service. However, it is a good idea to have your money exchanged at the airport.


Foreign Currency Exchange at Major Airports

*Not available at Iwate Hanamaki Airport, Akita Airport, Odate-Noshiro Airport, Aomori Airport.

At Narita Airport
Narita Airport HP (English)


At Sendai Airport
Sendai Airport HP (English)


At New Chitose Airport
New Chitose Airport HP (English)


In Iwate

Bank of Iwate
Head Office
1-2-3 Chuodori, Morioka, Iwate
Currency exchange available at 34 branches including Head Office / 9:00-15:00

Currencies bought:
U.S. dollar, G.B. pound, Canadian dollar, Swiss franc, Swedish krona, Danish krone, Norwegian krone, Euro, Australian dollar, Hong Kong dollar, New Zealand dollar, Singapore dollar

Currencies bought at Head Office only:
Chinese yuan, Korean won, Taiwan dollar


Tohoku Bank
Head Office
3-1 Uchimaru, Morioka, Iwate
Currency exchange available at 22 branches including Head Office / 9:00-15:00

Currencies bought:
U.S. dollar


Kita-Nippon Bank
Head Office
1-6-7 Chuodori, Morioka, Iwate
Currency exchange available at 19 branches including Head Office / 9:00-15:00

Currencies bought:
U.S. dollar


Hot Spring Manners: How to Take a Hot Spring Bath

At most Japanese hot spring facilities, there are large bathing areas and tubs which are open to all visitors and are to be entered naked, without bathing suits. The following is an etiquette and health guide for taking a Japanese hot spring bath.

1. Drink plenty of water before taking a bath.
You will perspire a lot while taking a hot spring bath, so make sure to drink water beforehand.

2. Rinse your body before entering the tub.
It is common courtesy to rinse and/or wash your body before entering the large tub, which is shared with others. Another reason to do so is to let your body get used to the temperature difference. This is especially important in winter or at high-temperature hot springs. The best way to rinse your body is to start with your toes, farthest away from the heart, and gradually approach the upper body. You should also pour hot water over your head about 10 times to prevent dizziness.

3. First, dip your body to the waist and relax.
When entering the tub, step in slowly starting with your toes, and dip your body to the waist to avoid stimulating the heart suddenly. Once your body starts to relax, dip all the way to the shoulders.

4. Do not stay in the tub for a long, continuous period of time.
You may get dizzy if you stay in the hot spring water too long. The first dip should last no more than about 5 minutes. Once your face starts perspiring, you should get out of the tub and rest. You can re-enter the bath as you like, but the length of each dip should be moderate. If the water is especially hot, try to take a shorter bath than usual.

5. Etiquette in the tub:
Do not put your towel in the tub.
Do not wash your body or hair in the tub.
Do not eat or drink in the tub.
Do not swim in the tub.
*On many pamphlets, you may see models wearing bath towels in the tub for the purpose of photo shoots; however, as a general rule, dipping your towel in the water is not allowed. But some facilities with mixed bathing areas do allow wearing bath towels in the tub, so check first with the front desk.

6. Try the outdoor bath.
Before trying the outdoor bath, you should first warm your body in the indoor bath. Do not use soap or shampoo in the outdoor bath area.

7. Avoid rinsing your body with tap water when finishing up.
After soaking in the hot spring water, it is better not to rinse your body with tap water if you want the minerals to have full effect on your body. Some facilities provide a small tub with clean hot spring water, with which you can rinse your body.
*Some hot spring waters that are stimulative to the skin should be rinsed off with tap water.

8. Wring out the washcloth and dry your body sufficiently.
Before stepping out of the bathing area into the changing room, wring out your washcloth and dry your body with it to prevent wetting the changing room floor.

9. Drink water and rest.
It is important to drink water and get plenty of rest after a bath. Even if you are not staying overnight at the facility, rest sufficiently before going home.

10. When to avoid taking a bath:
Before and after meals After drinking alcohol Early morning Late at night


Wearing a Yukata at Hot Spring Inns

Hot spring inns provide yukata or informal cotton kimono for you to wear during your stay. For many foreign visitors, the Japanese-sized yukata may be too small; nonetheless, give it a try because it is very comfortable. Most hot spring inns have three sizes: large, medium, and small. If yours does not fit, you may be able to exchange it for another size at the front desk. At some hot spring inns, you can choose from a variety of colorful yukata; what looks like a rectangular piece of cloth magically turns into a beautiful dress.

Yukata at hot spring inns only uses a single sash, so you can wear one very easily, compared to those worn in festivals. In summer, a yukata and a haori (short overgarment) suffice; in winter, tanzen (thick kimono worn like yukata) may also be provided.

You can walk around the inn in your yukata. At hot spring resort towns with many inns located close to each other, you can also go for a walk outside in your yukata.

1. Put your arms through the sleeves.
The sleeves have small slits where your hands should come out, but they also have large underarm slits, so make sure you put your arms through the right slits. Wear a yukata like a nightgown, with or without an extra undergarment.

2. Wrap the yukata around.
Hold both collar ends in front of you, the right end with your right hand, the left end with your left hand, bending your elbows slightly. Bring your right hand to the left side of your waist, and your left hand to the right. Hold down the yukata, and take your right hand out.

3. Tie the sash.
Wrap the sash once around your body, making sure not to twist it. Tie it in the front, either in the middle or on the side. Women should wrap it around the waist, and men should wrap it around the hips. To wrap the sash around smoothly, grab it with the hand holding down the yukata at the end of Step 2.

4. Wear a haori, if you like.
Some inns provide haori; others do not. Wear a haori if it is cold or if you want to hide your figure a little more. Tie the front strings in a bow.


How to Use Japanese Condiments

At Japanese restaurants, you will see various condiments on the tables. If you want to enjoy Japanese food to the fullest, try your dish as is, and then experiment with the condiments. If you don't know which ones to use, ask others in the restaurant for advice. Some condiments, such as those especially recommended for your dish, or fresh ones such as wasabi, are usually brought to you with the dish.

Salt and Pepper
You will usually find salt and pepper at restaurants and cafes, whereas at ramen shops, you will only find pepper. Japanese dishes such as tempura, natto, and tofu are usually served with a soy-sauce based dipping sauce, but some people enjoy them with salt. You may see parched rice in the salt shaker, which acts as a desiccant. Many people add white pepper to soy-sauce based ramen. Most ramen shops provide finely-ground pepper, but some shops recommend coarsely-ground pepper.

Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is used in a variety of Japanese dishes. Sushi and sashimi are most commonly eaten with soy sauce, poured in a small dish. Soy sauce is also essential to hiyayakko (cold tofu), ohitashi (boiled greens), and grilled fish (other than salt-grilled fish). Sometimes soy sauce is used in dishes such as takoyaki (octopus dumpling), okonomiyaki (pancake with various toppings), and tonkatsu (pork cutlet) as well. Many Chinese dishes are also enjoyed with soy sauce: soy sauce mixed with vinegar and chili oil goes well with fried dumplings, while soy sauce mixed with mustard accompanies dim sum. Many restaurants have a soy sauce bottle and a Worcester sauce bottle on the tables; they resemble a lot, but the Worcester sauce is thicker. If you can't tell which one is which, don't hesitate to ask.

Worcester Sauce
You will find Worcester sauce at okonomiyaki shops, takoyaki shops, and tonkatsu restaurants. It is used for various deep-fried dishes, so you will also find it at casual diners and restaurants. Many tonkatsu restaurants have original sauces as well, so give them a try even if you prefer soy sauce.

Grated garlic can be found at ramen shops. It goes well with many types of ramen: soy-sauce based, miso-based, pig-bone based. All Jajamen restaurants have grated garlic on the tables.

Chili Oil
Chili oil can be found at Chinese restaurants and ramen shops. Add chili oil to soy-sauce based, miso-based, or pig-bone based ramen to make it spicy. At Chinese restaurants, dim sum and fried dumplings are enjoyed with soy sauce mixed with chili oil, or soy sauce mixed with chili oil and vinegar.

Spicy Miso
Spicy miso is often provided at restaurants serving spicy ramen and Korean barbecue restaurants. Add spicy miso to miso-based ramen. Some restaurants recommend using spicy miso on fried dumplings.

You will find mustard at Chinese restaurants and tonkatsu restaurants. At Chinese restaurants, many people add mustard to soy sauce or vinegar to accompany spring rolls or dim sum. Tonkatsu is often eaten with Worcester sauce and mustard.

Red Pepper Powder (Mixed and Unmixed)
You will find red pepper powder at various noodle shops (ramen, soba, udon shops), yakitori (grilled skewered chicken) shops, beef tongue restaurants, and beef-and-rice bowl restaurants. There are two types of red pepper powder: ichimi (unmixed, literally “one flavor”) and shichimi (mixed, literally “seven flavors”). Most restaurants have one or the other, not both. Ichimi has a simple taste and is fairly spicy. Shichimi is a blend of seven spices including red pepper, Japanese pepper, and poppy; it is milder than ichimi but has a rich and flavorful harmony of spices. At ramen shops, red pepper powder is often added to miso-based ramen but not to other types.

Vinegar is often found at ramen shops, Jajamen restaurants, and Korean barbecue restaurants. Vinegar is mixed with soy sauce and chili oil to accompany fried dumplings. Vinegar can make spicy dishes mild, and is often added to ramen, Jajamen, and Reimen.


How to Throw Away Trash

Do not litter. In Japan, each municipality has its own waste disposal rules, but it is common courtesy not to litter. When outside, if you have some trash but cannot find a trash can, hold on to it until you find one.


On Shinkansen, etc.
There are trash cans for burnables and empty cans and bottles. Those for empty cans and bottles have small round holes on the lid. There are no trash cans on buses and airplanes, so you must take your trash with you.


At Tourist Facilities
You can find trash cans for empty cans and bottles near most vending machines. At facilities where food is served, you will also find trash cans for burnables. You can throw away burnables in most restroom trash cans, but some restroom trash cans are only for paper towels, so you should check first.


At Hotels and Inns
There is a trash can for burnables in each guest room. If you have empty cans and/or bottles, you should place them next to the trash can, or on the table.


Special Types of Trash

There are limited places where you can throw away diapers. Restrooms with diaper changing stations tend to have trash cans where you can throw away diapers. If not, keep them with you and bring them back to your hotel for the time being.


Smoking is prohibited in many places. If you are a smoker, make sure you only smoke in designated areas; you should also carry a portable ashtray.


The Cultural Heritaege of Hiraizumi―Toward World Heritage Inscription

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