The snow on Mount Iwate has melted, and you can see the mountain ranges surrounding Morioka clearly. You’re fine outside in just a short-sleeved t-shirt, and you can hear the sounds of summer all around.As you can tell, summer has started! What’s everyone’s plans this year?

This article is about Sansa Odori, a huge summer festival that brings color to the city of Morioka, and is its best-known summer event.

Sansa Odori is a four-day parade typically held from August 1-4 on Morioka City’s Chuodori Street. Huge troupes of drums, flutes, singers and dancers come together to the same beat to march down the street. Due to COVID, the festival has been cancelled for the past few years, but the parade is scheduled to be held in 2022 for the first time in three years.

Sansa Odori originally came from the legend of Mitsuishi. Mitsuishi is the name of a small shrine in Morioka, and the story goes as such: A long time ago, an evil demon appeared in the town and started terrorizing the people. They came together to pray to the god of the Mitsuishi Shrine to drive the demon away. That god captured the demon, and made it vow to never bother anyone ever again. As proof of its vow, Mitsuishi made the demon leave its hand print on the rock inside the shrine. (That is also the origin of the name Iwate, literally meaning “Rock-Hand” in Japanese).

The people, overjoyed over the departure of the demon, danced around the Mitsuishi shrine, shouting, “Sansa sansa!” That, they say, is the origin of the Sansa Odori dance. If you ever find yourself in Morioka, we’d love if you made your way over to Mitsuishi Shrine as well.

Here’s another surprising fact about Sansa Odori – the event actually holds the Guinness World Record for the most Japanese taiko drums performing at the same time. People from all over the country gathered in Morioka to make that happen.

Now that you know how Sansa Odori started, do you want to try dancing in the parade yourself? We’re starting to prepare for the festival, and you can hear the sounds of drums throughout the entire city. Please come to Morioka this summer to get a taste of Sansa for yourself.


【3年ぶりの開催 ~さんさ踊り~】