Hello, everyone!
Iwate Prefecture may be located in the northern region of Japan, but we do experience a hot summer – lately, we’ve had many days with temps over 30°Celsius, heralding the dog days of summer. And once summer gets close, it always feels like the city streets come alive with energy.
With this article, I’d like to showcase some summer and early autumn events divided by all four major regions of Iwate!

First, here’s an event in the central region of Iwate, made famous by Morioka City which was showcased by the New York Times.

Open Season at the Yahaba Sunflower Garden
 There are two sunflower gardens in Yahaba Town that herald the coming of summer for the town, and they’ll be opening this year.
The Kemuyama Sunflower Park is known for being a fantastic spot to take photos of sunflowers with the majestic Mount Nansho in the background. The other park, Wami Flower Park, is welcoming its 3rd year of operations, and hosts an observatory deck where you can see all the sunflowers.
These vast fields of blooming sunflowers bring delight to all who visit.
These beautiful fields of sunflowers, stretching as far as the eye can see, will also serve as the perfect shot for your Instagram. Hope you drop by!
The season for the sunflowers may start a little early or late, depending on the weather, but you can check out their status at the page below.
観光スポット|いわての旅:岩手県観光ポータルサイト「いわての旅」 (iwatetabi.jp)
Sunflower season: Early to mid-August 2023
Place: Yahaba Kemuyama Sunflower Park and Wami Flower Park
Questions: Yahaba Town Industry and Tourism Division   TEL:019-611-2605

Next, I’ll introduce an event in the coastal region, famous for its delicious bindon seafood platters and the Miraculous Lone Pine Tree.

The 32nd Kamaishi Yoisa Festival
 Kamaishi was once home to a steel mill that ran for 100 years, but the mill eventually closed up shop and the fires went out at the furnaces. This festival was started in order to bring a little pep back into Kamaishi’s step. The Yoisa Komachi dancers, clad in yukata, dance elegantly along with lively musical accompaniment, while participants repeat an energetic dance recalling that of the traditional Tora-mai (Tiger Dance) performance.
We hope you visit the festival as well as enjoy sightseeing on the coast of Iwate.

Date: September 23 (Sat/a national holiday) afternoon *Time to be determined
Place: Kamaishi Unosumai Reconstruction Stadium
Questions: Kamaishi Yoisa Executive Committee Secretariat
Kamaishi Information Exchange Center
1-1-10 Omachi, Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture (026-0024)
TEL: 080-1194-0413 (Hours: 10 am – 6 pm, Closed on Thursdays and Sundays)
Email: kamaishi.yoisa.jimukyoku@gmail.com

Next, let’s head to the northern region of Iwate.
Did you know that Iwate boasts the largest production of domestic lacquer in the entire country? This high-quality lacquer has been used in the maintenance of famed temples like Kinkaku-ji and Nikko Toshogu. Iwate’s lacquer production area is located in the northern area of the prefecture.

 Viewing Fireflies on Mount Oritsumedake
   At the top of Mount Oritsumedake, a prefectural park that stretches across Ninohe City, Karumai Town, and Kunohe Village, is an area renowned for its high concentration of himebotaru fireflies. It is designated as a prefectural natural monument.
The fireflies start flitting around at about 7:30 at night, and their movement is at their peak at 8 pm. Enjoy the mystical sight of around a million fireflies lighting the summer night sky, attracting each other and disappearing into the dark.
Firefly season: Early to mid-July (on most years, the peak can be seen from July 10-20)
*On typical years, you must make a reservation to view the spot at its peak in early July. Reservation page (for reference)::ホタル観賞のお申込み | 折爪岳〜ホタルと風の調和〜 (oritsumedake.com)
Place: Mount Oritsumedake
Questions: Oritsumedake Promotion Council (within the Ninohe City Government’s Commerce, Tourism, and Products Distribution Division) *Japanese language inquiries only. TEL: 0195-43-3213   Business hours: 8:30am – 5:15pm

Last, I’d like to introduce a traditional cultural event from the southern area of Iwate, which is home to the famed Hiraizumi and the World Heritage Site Chuson-ji Temple!

 Kitakami Michinoku Traditional Folk Performance Festival
 This festival is a popular summer event that showcases the various traditional folk performances of Iwate Prefecture. Within, you can see performances of the Onikenbai dance, which was designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage last year as part of Japan’s ritual dances list. The Onikenbai is a traditional dance of Kitakami City where dancers wear an ogre mask and dance around using powerful movements. On the last day of the festival, August 6th, there is a beautiful fireworks finale on the banks of the Kitakami River, one of the rivers that the Tohoku region is most known for.
This is a festival where you can experience these traditional folk performance up close – culture that has been loved and cherished by the Iwate people over centuries!
Let’s watch together!
Dates/Places: August 4 (Fri) 6 pm – 8:30 pm; Odori Street by Kitakami Station
August 5 (Sat) 9 am – 8:10 pm; areas around Kitakami City
August 6 (Sun) 10 am – 3:30 pm; Sakura Hall
7:30 pm – 8:30 pm; banks of the Kitakami River
Questions: Kitakami Michinoku Traditional Folk Performance Festival Homepage: TOP – 北上・みちのく芸能まつり (geinoumatsuri.com)*On the bottom of the page is a menu to select a Google translate option to view the page in your language. Please send inquiries by email.

So what did you think of all these colorful events taking place throughout Iwate?
Iwate is of course known for its Sansa Odori drum festival, but I wanted to show off some of the regional attractions in this deep-dive.
I hope you come see all the facets of Iwate!





  問合せ先:矢巾町産業観光課 TEL:019-611-2605
 第32回 釜石よいさ
  開催時期:9月23日(土・祝) 午後 ※詳細時間は未定
       〒026-0024 岩手県釜石市大町1-1-10釜石情報交流センター内
       TEL 080-1194-0413(10時〜18時、木・日曜日休業)
       MAIL kamaishi.yoisa.jimukyoku@gmail.com  
問合せ先:折爪岳振興協議会(二戸市商工観光流通課内) ※日本語のみ対応
開催時期・場所:8月4日(金)午後6時~午後8時30分 駅前大通り
        8月5日(土)午前9時~午後8時10分 北上市内各地
        8月6日(日)午前10時~午後3時30分 さくらホール、
              午後7時30分~午後8時30分 北上川河畔
問合せ先:みちのく・芸能まつりURL:TOP - 北上・みちのく芸能まつり (geinoumatsuri.com)