Michinoku the Legend of Gold
This time, we trace Japan's legend of gold. The precious metal was actually first mined in Michinoku -- an old name for northern Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures -- in the 8th century Nara period. A photographer visits Hiraizumi and its golden Konjikido, meets a gold leaf artisan, ducks into an old mine and even pans for gold.

Konjikido Hall

This hall, covered in gold leaf, is in the Chuson-ji temple complex in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture.

Zuihoden

This is a mausoleum of the feudal lord Date Masamune in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture.

Sakin-tori

The "Tenpyo Romance Hall" is the place to try striking gold in Wakuya in Miygagi Prefecture.

Access

To reach northern Japan from Tokyo, catch the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train. It's about 2 hours to Sendai, home to the Zuihoden. It's about 3 hours to Hiraizumi, with a change to a local line at Ichinoseki.