Welcome to Tōno, a city in Iwate Prefecture, Japan. Known as The City of Folklore, Tōno is a rural paradise that has preserved its traditional culture and is especially famous for the collection of folktales, Tōno Monogatari, written by Kunio Yanagita in 1910. With an estimated population of 26,378, Tōno is a hidden gem that boasts breathtaking landscapes, mouthwatering local cuisine, and a rich history. Join us as we uncover the many treasures of Tōno and reveal why this enchanting destination should be on every traveler’s bucket list.

Geographically, Tōno is located in central Iwate Prefecture, in the floodplain of the Sarugaishi River, surrounded by a ring of mountains. Mount Hayachine sits at the northernmost point of the city where Hanamaki, Kawai 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. The highest points in southern Tōno are Mt. Sadato (884 meters) on the border of Sumida and Mt. Tane (871 meters) on the borders of Sumita and Ōshū. According to legend, 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.

Tōno has a humid climate (Köppen Cfa) characterized by mild summers and cold winters. The average annual temperature in Tōno is 9.6 °C. The average annual rainfall is 1388 mm with September as the wettest month and February as the driest month. The temperatures are highest on average in August, at around 22.6 °C, and lowest in January, at around -2.2 °C.

Per Japanese census data, the population of Tōno peaked in around the year 1960 and has declined steadily over the past 60 years. It is now less than it was a century ago. Per official data from Tōno city hall, 37.6% of the population is over the age of 65.

The area of present-day Tōno was part of ancient Mutsu Province, and has been settled since at least the Jōmon period. Pottery fragments can still be found in farmers fields and other places. Later the area was inhabited by the Emishi and many place names are based on the Ainu language. In the 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 Fujiwara controlled Tōno which was a prized area for horse breeding, farming and hunting. During the Sengoku period, the area was dominated by various samurai clans before coming under the control of the Nambu clan during the Edo period, who ruled Morioka Domain under the Tokugawa shogunate. The Nambu built Nabekura Castle in what is now known as Nabekura Park in downtown Tōno as a defence against the powerful Date clan of Sendai Domain to then south, and assigned to Nanbu Naoyoshi, formerly castellan of Ne Castle near Hachinohe in 1627. This formed an unofficial subsidiary 12,500 koku domain of Morioka Domain, which lasted until the Meiji restoration. With the Meiji period establishment of the modern municipalities system, the town of Tōno was established on April 1, 1889 within Nishihei District of Iwate Prefecture. In 1896, Nishihei and Minamihei districts were merged to form Kamihei District. During 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 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. On October 1, 2005, the village of Miyamori (from Kamihei District) was merged into Tōno to bring the city to

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