|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2010)|
|• Mayor||Toshiaki Honda|
|• Total||825.62 km2 (318.77 sq mi)|
|Population (February 1, 2012)|
|• Density||36.23/km2 (93.8/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|- Tree||Spreading Yew|
|- Flower||Lilium auratum|
|Address||8-12 Higashidate-chō, Tōno-shi
The city of Tōno lies near the center of Iwate Prefecture in the floodplain of the Sarugaishi River. It is known as "The City of Folklore" for its rural nature, its preservation of traditional culture and especially for the collection of folktales, Tōno Monogatari, written by Kunio Yanagita in 1910.
The city has a number of sightseeing spots, such as Kappabuchi, a pool where the mythical creatures called kappa are said to live. Tōno Furusato Village preserves several magariya, or L-shaped houses, from the 18th and 19th centuries. The Chiba Family House is another large magariya that is preserved in Tōno as a museum.
Tōno's food includes Genghis Khan or barbecued lamb and hittsumi or wheat dumplings as well as horse meat. The Miyamori part of Tōno is known for its wasabi production and a local brewery makes a wasabi beer.
Festivals include the Tōno Folktales Festival in early February, in which local storytellers recite stories from the Tōno Monogatari. Tōno Tanabata Festival is held in early August and features a parade of dancers through the city center. In mid-September is the Tōno Festival which also features a parade and yabusame or horseback archery.
Old Tōno lies in the center of a bowl formed by the floodplain of the Sarugaishi River surrounded by a ring of mountains. Mt. Hayachine sits at the northernmost point of the city where Hanamaki, Kawai Village and Tōno meet. At 1,914 meters it is also the city's highest point. Mt. Rokkoushi, (1,294 meters) dominates the landscape to the east and Mt. Ishigami (1,038 meters) is the highest mountain in the west. Together these peaks form Tōno's "big three" mountains. They are sacred to the Ainu people and in Japanese Shinto. There are traditional tales related to each one as well. The highest points in southern Tōno are Mt. Sadato (884 meters) on the border of Sumida Town and Mt. Tane (871 meters) on the borders of Sumita Town and Oshu City.
There is an ancient legend that in the past the hills in Miyamori blocked the Sarugaishi River creating a large lake in the Tōno area. Miyamori itself is characterized by a series of valleys to the west of Mt. Ishigami that flow west into the Sarugaishi River just below the Tase Dam.
While the modern city of Tōno was created in 1954, the area encompassing the city has been occupied since Jomon times. Pottery fragments can still be easily found in farmers' fields and other places. Later the area was inhabited by the Emishi and many place names are still in the Ainu language.
In the Zenkunen, or Early Nine-Years War lasting from 1051 to 1063, Minamoto no Yoshiie fought running battles with Abe no Sadato throughout the area. There are references to this in "Tōno Monogatari" and arrowheads still turn up from time to time.
Later the Hiraizumi Fujiwaras controlled Tōno which was a prized area for horse breeding, farming and hunting.
The Nanbu clan added the territory of Tōno to their fiefdom in the 16th century and built Nabekura Castle in what is now known as Nabekura Park in downtown Tōno. The castle was completed in 1627 and occupied by a branch of the Nanbu clan from Hachinohe. It was destroyed, along with other Nanbu castles, in 1869.
In the Meiji period, Tōno developed a silk and cotton weaving industry dependent on Morioka. The silk industry was destroyed by intensely cold weather during the winter of 1905-06. The residents of Tōno were reduced to eating wild roots by the famine of this period and many died or moved away.
The modern city of Tōno was officially founded on December 1, 1954 by the merger of the former town of Tōno with the seven villages of Ayaori, Otomo, Tsukimoushi, Matsuzaki, Tsuchibuchi, Aozasa and Kamigo.
The entire city can be considered a sightseeing attraction in itself considering the number of places mentioned in Tōno Monogatari. Besides the promoted attractions there are still many ordinary houses and other buildings throughout the area left over from a bygone era.
- Tōno Furusato Village - is collection of magariya type houses from the 18th and 19th centuries that have been relocated to this site. There are seasonal events and entertainments provided during peak vacation times. There is also a restaurant, gift shop, library and museum of natural history.
- Chiba Family Nanbu Magariya - is a large 200-year-old farmhouse which is still occupied but open for tourists as well.
- Denshoen - is a group of buildings including the Kikuchi Family Magariya and the Sasaki Kizen Memorial Museum. The Oshirado Hall enshrines 1,000 Oshira-sama deities.
- Tōno Castle Town Materials Museum - is dedicated to preserving artifacts from the Nanbu clan when Tōno was a prosperous castle town. There are kimono, netsuke, swords and so on on display.
- Fukusen-ji Temple - is a Shingon Buddhist temple housing the largest wooden Kannon statue in Japan. The grounds of the temple are quite extensive and have many buildings including a five story pagoda.
- Tōno Kura no Michi Gallery - is a collection of old "kura" or storehouses that have been made into an art gallery, gift shop and toy museum.
- Kappabuchi - is a pool behind Joken-ji Temple which is said to be the home of many "kappa" or mythical water sprites.
- Denderano - is a hut far from any houses where the elderly were brought to die in ages past, for they were seen by their children as no longer productive. The landscape where the huts were is called Dendera Field.
- 500 Buddhist Disciples - are a group of carvings on granite rocks done by a priest of Daiji-ji Temple to commemorate the victims of a famine.
- Arakawa-kōgen Farm - an Important Cultural Landscape
- Tōno Folktales Festival - in early February - in which storytellers recite tales from Tōno Monogatari.
- Tōno Machiya Doll Festival - from late February through early March - in which traditional dolls are displayed in shops and museums throughout the city.
- Tōno Cherry Blossom Festival - in early May - in which the cherries bloom and everyone parties under the blossoms.
- Tōno Horsepower Tournament - on the 4th Sunday in June - in which draft animals compete in pulling heavy loads.
- Manuke-bushi Festival - in early August - is a humorous dance held on the streets of Tōno.
- Tōno Tanabata Festival - in early August - is a dance and parade that starts in front of the station and goes through the city.
- Tōno Fireworks Festival - on August 15 - is fireworks.
- Tōno Festival - in mid-September - is another dance and parade through the city streets elebrating the harvest.
- Tōno Dobekko Festival - every weekend from late November to early March - is a chance to drink moonshine legally.
Tōno is known throughout Japan as the cradle of Tōno Monogatari (Tales of Tōno), written in 1910 by Kunio Yanagita, who gathered folk tales of the area. This book is now considered one of the greatest studies of Japanese folklore, and inspired the 1982 movie of the same name.
Several of these tales involve the Kappa, mischievous water sprites. A legendary location in Tōno is the Kappa-buchi, a water stream where kappas are said to live.
The mascot of the city, Karin-chan, is a cute kappa holding a bellflower. She is usually depicted walking in front of a Magariya.
Tōno is located within 1 hour of driving to most major destinations in Iwate. Route 396 leads to Morioka, Route 283 to Hanamaki to the west and Kamaishi to the east, Route 107 to Kitakami, and Route 340 leads to Miyako to the northeast and Ōfunato to the southeast. Route 283, which crosses Tōno close to the heart of the city, is known to locals as "the bypass" and has seen sustained commercial growth in the recent years.
Tōno will be a major stop on the Kamaishi Expressway, which is currently under construction. As of 2005, this expressway, which should eventually link the coast to the Tohoku Expressway in Hanamaki, only reaches Tōwa.
There are 12 train stations in the municipality, all on the JR Kamaishi Line: Iwanebashi, Miyamori, Kashiwagidaira, Masuzawa, Arayamae, Iwate-Futsukamachi, Ayaori, Tōno, Aozasa, Iwate-Kamigō, Hirakura and Ashigase. At the heart of the city, Tōno Station is also the principal bus station. Most festival parades proceed along the street in front of the station.
There are two senior high schools in Tōno, under the purview of Iwate's Prefectural Board of Education. Iwate Prefectural Tōno Senior High School offers an academic curriculum, while Iwate Prefectural Tōno Ryokuhō Senior High School is vocational.
As of 2007, the city operates eight junior high schools: Aozasa, Ayaori, Kamigō, Miyamori, Otomo, Tōno, Tsuchibuchi, and Tsukimoushi.
The city also operates 11 elementary schools: Aozasa, Ayaori, Kamigō, Masuzawa, Miyamori, Otomo, Tassobe, Tōno, Tōno North, Tsuchibuchi, and Tsukimoushi.
As the number of students is decreasing steadily, some of these schools will likely be merging or closing in the near future.
Tōno has been twinned with Salerno in Italy since 1984.
Tōno is also twinned with three Japanese cities:
In 1990, the high schools of Tōno and the Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences (CSAS) in Chattanooga, Tennessee were paired by School Partners Abroad to establish an exchange program. Near the end of every Japanese school year (in March), a delegation of Tōno high-schoolers visits Chattanooga, and reciprocally, a delegation from CSAS visits Tōno every summer. The city of Tōno has embraced this exchange and organizes a delegation of junior high school students which visits CSAS and the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA) a few weeks before the high schoolers.
Tōno postal codes start with "028-0".
- "The Films of Abraham Ravett: Horse/Kappa/House". Hampshire College. 2009. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- "Database of Registered National Cultural Properties". Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 29 April 2011.
Media related to Tōno, Iwate at Wikimedia Commons
- Tōno City official website (Japanese)