Featured summer article 〜Ichinoseki's summer festivals〜

The lively city of Ichinoseki loves summer!

Endless events invigorate the summer in Ichinoseki. You'll feel the buzz on every street!
What's the Ichinoseki way?
Getting together and having a good time to your heart's content,
no matter whether you're young, old, male or female!

Nationwide Local Beer Festival in Ichinoseki

Cheers! Kanpai! Cheers y'all! This festival, rumored to be one of Japan's largest local beer festivals, is Ichinoseki's major summer event. Craft beer makers from every corner of the nation come together and offer their original brews, attracting craft beer fans from all over Japan. But the event has more to offer; it also showcases a variety of tasty beer snacks made from locally sourced ingredients, attracts many families, too. Why not join in for a round of cheers?

Kawasaki Summer Festival Fireworks Festival
Huge fireworks, the city's pride

The festival takes place every year on August 16 at the same time as "okuribon," the tradition of seeing off the spirits of deceased family members. About 10,000 firework balls, big and small, shoot up from the banks of the Kitakami River, filling the summer night sky in a multitude of colors. The bang of the size-2 fireworks ball that blows up to 500 m across mid-sky is so powerful, it feels like it'll knock you off your feet. And don't miss the jumbo fireworks as they shoot up from the river surface—the entire river mirrors the beautiful sparks like a dream.

Want to experience all of Ichinoseki's summer festivals?

Ichinoseki locals love festivals. In the summer, it's hard to find a corner without one!
Loads of people even go festival-hopping.

Senmaya Summer Festival

Late July every year

A summer event in Ichinoseki's Senmaya district, the Senmaya Summer Festival offers a cornucopia of events for all generations. Senmaya dancers go dancing down a street lined with beautiful decorations for Tanabata, a star-festival, with many decorative floats showing off unique and dazzling performances.

Murone Summer Festival

Late July every year

This summer festival has a handmade feel to it and is packed with many events that'll take the whole day to enjoy. The daytime session includes a local drumming performance, yosakoi soran dances and mochi (pounded rice cake)-throws, while the nighttime session programs include bon dances and fireworks.

Ichinoseki Summer Festival

For three days from the first Friday of August every year

Lighting up the night sky, the Iwai River Fireworks Festival is part of Ichinoseki's Summer Festival. The second-generation Toki no Taiko ("timekeeping drum") marches along an Omachi-dori Street lined with Tanabata ("star festival") decorations billowing in the breeze. In the evening, many groups clad in their original yukata costumes perform a massive parade dance called Kurukuru Odori down the street. The last day is for the portable shrine festival, where the shrine is brought out by the local portable shrine association.

Hanaizumi Summer Festival / Japan's Best Mochi (rice cake) Pounding Festival

Early August every year

To promote the local mochi culture nationwide, the festival involves local Hanaizumi-sourced mochi rice called "Kogane Mochi," which will be pounded in a traditional mortar with a wooden mallet. The high-street association and local teams boost the excitement with their costumes and fun performances. In Japan, mochi is enjoyed mostly in the New Year. But in Ichinoseki it's a summer treat too, which is why the city is also commonly called "mochi-no-seki" (mochi checkpoint, and a play on words, too).

The flame from the Jomon Period: Fujisawa Noyaki ("outdoor pot-baking") Festival

The flame from the Jomon Period: Fujisawa Noyaki ("outdoor pot-baking") Festival

1,000 pieces of clayware are baked in eleven 8m-long, 4m-wide furnace holes. The highlight of the festival is the pillars of fire that rise dramatically and full of energy, seeming to scorch the sky, giving the illusion of slipping back to ancient times. The festival also offers an array of uniquely choreographed on-stage events as well as Jomon Period foods.

Surisawa Crystal Lantern Festival

Between August 13 to 15 every year

During this period, the main street of Surisawa, Daito-cho Town is lined with hexagonal lanterns with pictures of beautiful women and other illustrations. They say the name "crystal" comes from the fact that Surisawa once produced a lot of crystal, and the tradition lives on in the hexagonal shape of the lanterns. The ambient light from the lanterns also serves as "mukaebi," or welcome light, for people to mark their houses so the spirits of deceased family members will know where to return to.

Ohara Daruma Festival

August 15 every year

Every year on the evening of August 15, young people who had their "coming-of-age" celebrations at age 20 and local elementary school children together carry a huge handmade daruma, a traditional Japanese doll modeled after Bodhidharma, and march along the street to wish the locals a year free of illness, accidents and disasters. Afterward, the daruma is burned on the riverside, engulfing the event in excitement until the finale.

Namiwake Shrine Tenno Festival

Late July every year

Just on the north side of Kitakami Ohashi Bridge, which is route 284 stretching over the Kitakami River, is Namiwake Shrine, the home of an annual festival in late July. Locals carry a portable shrine on their shoulders, marching down the street alive with buzz and excitement. The traditional "Ohato-tori ("pigeon-race")" is a heated battle of men, fighting to get hold of a wooden statue of a pigeon ahead of their rivals. Known as a rough festival, it's a magnet for a lot of visitors.

Seasonal tourism spots

Michinoku Hydrangea Festival

Rediscover the beauty of hydrangeas: the dreamlike view only lasts a month in early summer

Michinoku Hydrangea Garden is in the Maikawa District of Ichinoseki, and has about 40,000 plants representing some 400 species of hydrangea on a huge hill of cedars, the size of three Tokyo Domes. This festival opens in late June when mountain hydrangea bloom before other varieties, and runs for about one month. The flowers themselves are beautiful, yet the entire scene is truly dream-like, with light purple, blue and pink hydrangea blossoming in the misty garden graced with cedar pine trees. It'll feel like you've wandered into the fairytale world of your childhood.

Back to home