After arriving at Iwate-ken, we enjoyed a calming cruise down Geibikei, a gorge with impressive limestone features stretching two kilometres long. As we sailed down the river, we took the chance to soak in the therapeutic sounds of the bamboo paddles hitting the rocks at the bottom of the water while watching wild geese play by the banks. Upon reaching Genbikei River, the warm colours of autumn once again left us speechless with wonder. The abundance of koyo ( 紅葉 , autumn leaves) was truly a sight to behold; this was no doubt one of the best places for momijigari ( 紅 葉 狩 り, Japanese tradition of visiting areas to admire autumn leaves).
We later arrived at Tohoku’s first World Heritage Site — Hiraizumi. Based on historical records, Matsuo Basho’s stay here was no more than a couple of hours. We spent most of our time at Chuson-ji Temple, which dates back to the Heian period (794-1185) appreciating the fine craftsmanship of its main hall covered completely in gold. The path leading to the temple is lined with majestic cedar trees that were around 300 to 400 years old, adding to the meditative atmosphere of the compound.