Ihatov (7)

Ihatov (7)
Ihatov is a utopia of Miyazawa Kenji.

Ihatov is a place. If you insist upon knowing exactly where, all I can say is that it’s in the fields of Little Claus and Great Claus. That it is the same Looking Glass world through which Alice traveled. It is far northeast of the desert of Tepatar, and far to the east beyond Ivan’s Kingdom. It is a dreamland in the author’s imagination, that was inspired by this scenery and is based upon Iwate, Japan.

Above is snippets from the preface to Kenji Miyazawa’s Chuumon no Ooi Ryoriten (Restaurant of Many Orders, 1924) , the subtitle of which is Ihatov Monogatari (Ihatov Tales). Kenji idealized Iwate as an imaginary dreamland which he named Ihatov. He was born, raised, and dearly loved his home town of Hanamaki in Iwate. Ihatov was the fertile ground from which Miyazawa’s stories grew, a place where animals and telephone poles, forests and mountains all speak a single tongue.

Natural Features of Ihatov

Iwate prefecture is informed by the Ou Mountains, which form the backbone of the Tohoku region, the gentle slopes of the mountainous area of Kitakami, and the Kitakamigawa River basin.

Kitakamigawa, the primary river in the Tohoku region, flows vertically up the middle of Iwate and empties into Sendai Bay. Until the Tokhoku train line opened, the river was central to transport and the transmission of culture. The river basin is more like a wide valley, and serves as the principal agricultural belt in the prefecture.

Several volcanoes stretch along the Ou mountain range, one of Japan's typical volcanic zones, and hot springs bubble up in numerous places at the foot of the mountains. This colorful, variegated mountain range includes the majestic peaks of Mt. Iwate and beautiful forests on the lower slopes of lesser volcanoes. The Kitakami Mountain Range is the oldest geological feature in Japan. It is thought that this landmass moved up from far south of its present position. After eroding into a peneplain, or a nearly flat land surface, the Kitakami rose up again to become a plateaulike mountain range featuring gently sloping mountains, of which Taneyamagahara is particularly well-known, and little valleys.