If you’re looking for an easily accessible place to chill-out that’s relatively close to downtown Morioka, why not head to Takamatsu Pond (高松の池)? Located about a 30-minute walk from the center of town (depending on which way you walk or how fast/slow you are!), you can also take a bus (E01 or E03 from Eigakandori, or Cinema Street or Morioka Bus Centre- 160 yen or 260 yen respectively).
With Mt. Iwate clearly visible in the background, it’s great to visit in any season and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. My first visit was in summer. It was hot, but there was plenty of shade and lots of summer greenery.
Autumn was stunning with bright red leaves, picture-postcard weather and the perfect temperature for hiking. I hiked from nearby Atagoyama Memorial Park (about a 2.5km hike, one way) which has a well-marked trail with signposts all the way to Takamatsu.
I also wanted to visit in winter and specifically waited for a particularly snowy day. Some of my older students told me that over 30 years ago, the pond was completely frozen over and teams came annually from all over Japan to compete in a national ice-skating competition. In winter, the lake is also a swan wintering area. It can get pretty noisy though, so if you’re not a fan of swans, I wouldn’t advise choosing this time to come!
The pond is a perfect place to take photos, and you’ll often see nature buffs out and about with their high-tech cameras. It’s also an excellent place for families with kids or couples on a date. In other words, it’s a place for everybody!
Now as spring approaches, Takamatsu Pond will play host to numerous hanami, or cherry blossom viewing parties. The area is considered to be one of Japan’s 100 famous places for cherry blossoms. At this time, yatai, or food stalls, are set up around the pond for hungry party-goers. The area is popular for walking/running, and there are tracks around the outside, or you can choose to go up on the road that surrounds the pond. If you get tired or feel like taking some time out to enjoy the sun and good weather, there are plenty of seats/benches around the lake to while away the day.
There’s a café on the high school side of the pond as well as a place to hire a swan boat (summer only) to take out with your loved one or to paddle around with the kids. Takamatsu Pond is a popular tourist attraction for foreigners but is equally loved by locals and long-term expats. It’s one to cross off your list if you come to the Far North.