The Hot-Air Balloon Festival of Ichinoseki and Hiraizumi 2022 was recently held from October 14 to 16, mainly at the Ichinoseki-Mizube Plaza.


This festival started in 2012 as an event to help support the reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. This year, the clear autumn skies above Ichinoseki once again came alive, dotted with colorful hot-air balloons in reds, blues, and golds.


Alongside the festival, nationally-ranked pilots raced their balloons through the air at the 3rd match of Honda’s Hot-Air Balloon Grand Prix, the most important competition in the nation. Thirty teams entered their balloons into the competition, although matches in the morning of the first day were canceled due to thick fog and strong winds. However, by the afternoon, the balloons were in the air, aiming for the target set in the rice fields of Ichinoseki’s river region. They raced from the Mizube Plaza to the goal, trying to land on precise targets.

Ichinoseki City


Ichinoseki City


On the 15th, the second day of the festival, a Balloon Illusion event was held, where pilots turn on the balloon flames in time to music and the balloons were lit up. The event was held with 20 balloons in the Iwai River district. After a signal was given, all of the balloons were lit up, and the crowds were thrilled to see the beauty of all the balloons floating and glowing in the air.


Ichinoseki City


There were related events held nearby, such as a seminar on hot air balloons, and an event for local residents to try riding a balloon themselves.


There were a few balloons moored at the event for people to get in, including official New Asimo balloons and Ichinoseki City’s official balloon “Land of Gold Ichinoseki & Hiraizumi.” Families climbed in the baskets and were then taken up around 20m high. At the Hot Air Balloon seminar, attendees heard about how hot air balloons were constructed, and were also able to learn how to deflate and put away the balloon.


For the past two years, the festival was held without guests because of anti-COVID measures, so this was the first time in three years there were visitors to see the balloons. Many guests arrived to learn all about the wonders of hot air balloons.


Ichinoseki City


Ichinoseki City


Facts about Hot Air Balloons

①You can only control a hot air balloon in two directions (up/down)

You go up by turning on the burner attached at the top and blowing warm air into the balloon, and you go down by letting out some of the warm air. That’s it. The only way to move horizontally (east/west/north/south) is to let the natural breeze blow you along.


②Pilots need to be able to read the wind

The direction and strength of the wind will differ depending on the region, altitude, and time of day. Using this, we can adjust the altitude of the balloon to get to the wind that will blow us in the direction we want to go. The pilot needs to be able to find the wind going in the direction he wants to go, and then be able to make the fine adjustments in altitude to bring him to the height he needs to be.


③Winning Hot-Air Balloon Competitions require teamwork

There’s only so much information a pilot can gain in the air. By keeping in close contact with the crew on the ground, he can precisely understand the wind conditions that are crucial in a hot air balloon competition. Using that information, as well as the height and direction of other balloons in the area, the pilot can make a decision that can lead to victory or defeat.


④Just because there’s good weather doesn’t mean the balloon will fly

Hot air balloons can’t be flown during rain, snow, or other bad weather, but they also can’t be flown when the wind is too strong. That’s why competitions are usually held during the early morning or evening when the wind is calmer, not in the middle of the day when air pressure can cause a lot of air flow.

Even with good weather, high winds at high altitudes lead to cancellations, so even if it’s sunny out, you still may not be able to compete.







係留体験搭乗会では、係留された2機のオフィシャル機の「ニューアシモ号」と一関市の熱気球「黄金の國一関・平泉号」を活用し行われました。家族連れの方々などが熱気球のバスケットに乗り込み、高さ20mの景色を楽しみました。 熱気球教室では、熱気球の構造について説明を受けたほか、撤収作業を手伝いながら実際に熱気球に触れました。