TŌNO (遠野) itself is a small town set among flat rice-lands, with orchards and pine forests cloaking the surrounding hills. Although it’s mainly a place to make use of for its hotels, banks and other facilities, there are a couple of museums to see before you set off round the valley. Allow a couple of days to do the area justice.
From Tōno Station it’s an eight-minute walk straight across town and over the river to the Tōno Municipal Museum (遠野市立博物館) at the back of a red-brick building which doubles as the library. This entertaining museum gives a good overview of Tōno’s festivals, crafts and agricultural traditions.
Walking back towards the station, turn left just across the river for Tōno Folk Village (とおの昔話村). The “village” consists of several buildings, including the ryokan where Yanagita Kunio stayed while researching his legends, and an old storehouse containing more dramatizations of the stories.