Discovering Morioka’s traditional techniques and rich history.
If you ask Morioka residents about the charm of their city, they’ll most likely reply that “everything is within walking distance.” For a trip to such a city, it pays to choose the right footwear. Tough enough to pound the pavement all day and comfortable around water, but above all a sense of style that brings the fun into walking. Teva® shoes fit the bill perfectly. So we gladly slip on a pair for this trip.
We kick off our tour of Morioka from the center of the city. After admiring the drawings of young Iwate artists at the Cyg Art Gallery, we take a leisurely stroll through the city, where the retro and the modern intersect. Take the Iwate Bank Red Brick Building for instance, an edifice that housed a bank for over 100 years from 1911. The joy of strolling around Morioka is discovering vestiges of its illustrious past around each corner.
Next, we head to the Morihisa Suzuki Studio, a long-established manufacturer of Nanbu ironware that has produced numerous masterpieces as a foundry since the Edo period. The exquisite designs of the iron kettle, tea kettle, and sake decanter — which fit into modern lifestyles while preserving traditional techniques — will have you reaching for your wallet. Shigeaki Suzuki, who will soon take over the workshop as the 16th head of the family, has worked as a designer for apparel brands in Tokyo for many years. Thanks to Naruo’s pedigree, there are many unique ironware pieces on display in the studio, which are simple and minimalist while deftly melding the traditional with the modern.
It is time for lunch already, and we opt for a bowl of noodles from Azumaya, a local soba institution also dating back to 1907. It is said that the Azuma family was the first to chant “Hai, jan jan. Hai, don don,” when pouring a mouthful of soba into a bowl in front of you, to liven up your meal. Owner Akihiko Baba lived in the U.S. for many years, and is a maverick who believes in tradition, regularly holding rakugo and other live performances in his restaurant. So much do we enjoy talking with Baba-san that we get carried away and end up filling our bellies with 100 servings of soba — a veritable feast.
Chilling out in local style by the Nakatsu River.
After lunch, we need to stretch our legs, so decide to take a 30-minute walk to a café we’ve heard good things about. This brings us to a residential area near Kamimorioka Station, and to Nagasawa Coffee. From light to deep roasted, it handles the largest variety of beans in Morioka City, catering to a capacious crowd of coffee connoisseurs. Proprietor Kazuhiro Nagasawa was even selected as one of the “20 People Who Are Changing the World Through Coffee” by American industry media in 2019. He was recognized for spearheading the city’s coffee culture with his unique knowledge and skills, without being swayed by fads.
Not having walked far enough, we continue exploring with Teva® towards the heart of the city and the banks of the Nakatsu River. Some 20 minutes later, a beautiful river landscape appears before us. Locals are enjoying grilling and messing about by the river. We learn that we can even see salmon coming up the river, which made us feel more than a little envious of the life in this area with such a scenic river running through.
At the riverside, we slip into our Teva® REVIVE ’94 MID amphibious hiking shoes from our backpacks, and enjoy the feel of the river underfoot. Ascending the river bank, we happen upon a stylish select store called LOCALERS. I spend some time shooting the breeze with owner Yoshiaki Nakamura, who is relaxing out front. “On sunny days, I love having a beer with my customers while looking at over the river, and in the autumn, we have sweet potato soup together. With such a beautiful river right in front of us, it would be rude not to.”
The store is crammed with fashion items carefully selected by Mr. Nakamura from Japan and abroad. His selection criteria are progressive and consistent, with a view to introudcing superior quality items to his customers. “I just collect things I like, but the theme is synergy of opposites.’ Some are high-tech, some are hand-crafted, but all are top drawer and there’s a synergy between them.”
The sun is high in the sky, and we’re in the mood for more walking, so our day of exploring the folk and culture of Morioka with Teva® is far from over.
Teva® REEMBER 2
Water-repellant slip-ons that can be worn two ways.
Slip-on sneakers with a ripstop upper made of recycled material. The padded upper provides reliable warmth, and the “MAX-COMF” shape-memory foam insole, made with Teva’s proprietary technology, provides an excellent hold to wrap around the foot. With Teva RAPID, a unique water-repellent processing technology, the upper is resistant to a little splashing, making it ideal for off-roading and walking in bad weather. The organic color lineup of Birch, Dark Olive, Black, and Sand Dune is offers a wide range of styling. For families, the colorful kid sized “REEMBER” is also an option.