When I taught English in Japan, -- years ago, this is where I lived. As such, it has a special place in my heart. Things have definitely changed and it didn't feel so much like home, making my return a little bittersweet.
The train ride in had us pass through a lot of rice paddies. Outside of Tokyo, Japan is surprisingly open. It's also very mountainous and has lots of lakes and rivers, but it's a beautiful place to live and travel.
I knew it was the Chagu Chagu Umako Festival date, but didn't realize the festival went all over the city (including the train station when we arrived), making the city significantly busier than usual. I'm not sure my husband believed me when I said the city is normally very quiet. The festival is named after the sound the bells make when clanking against the horses. Here's a clip from the parade as it passed Plaza Odette.
It also happened to be significantly hotter and more humid than expected for June (and the AC in our ryokan didn't work well). :(
I took us through Hotline Sakanacho, a local shopping arcade, and to Iwate Park. The park is built on the former castle foundations, and includes, among other things, a rose garden.
The next day we did some shopping and relaxed at Takamatsu Pond. We took a jaunt on one of the swan boats, walked around the pond and read for a while. It's a popular place for cherry blossom viewing in April, but there wasn't much in bloom when we were there.