Morioka (盛岡市 Morioka-shi?), overlooked by Mount Iwate, is the capital city of Iwate Prefecture and twinned with Victoria, Canada. The city's estimated population was 287,672 in 2003. Iwate is quite a rural prefecture and so Morioka is nothing like the visions of high-rise buildings and neon lights you see on TV, but it is nonetheless a vibrant city and a lovely place to live.
What is Morioka famous for?Edit
Morioka is famous for its three types of local noodles: jajamen, reimen, and wankosoba. Brewing is also a thriving industry of the city. It's other main local delicacy is Nambu Senbei, a type of rice cracker which comes in lots of flavours including pumpkin seed, sesame, peanut and sweet potato. The most famous local product is Nambu-tekki, a type of iron-wear with a history of over 1000 years.
The best place to see these traditional products is Zaimoku-cho, which is just 10 minutes walk from the station and has a street market most Saturdays. If you can find it, there is a lovely little Viennese style coffee shop hidden away down there. Right at the furthest end is a Chinese tea shop which is owned by a lovely lady with wonderful English.
Morioka's four major festivalsEdit
- Chagu Chagu Umakko (second Sat of June)
- - a parade of about 100 colorfully adorned horses
- Funekko Nagashi (16th August)
- - an obon festival of burning boats to guide the spirits of ancestors
- Hachiman Shrine Festival
traditional floats are paraded through the city to the sounds of drums.
- Sansa Odori (1st August)
- - Morioka's biggest festival, running for three days and consisting of dancing and food stalls.
What's in Morioka?Edit
At the end of the main street (Odori), which has a large number of great restaurants, is Iwate Park, the site of the old castle. Although little remains of the castle, it is a beautiful place to relax in summer or to go cherry blossom viewing at the beginning of May.
Intersecting Odori is Cinema Street, which true to its name has a choice of five cinemas, including the newly opened Forum Multiplex in the Moss Building.
On the outskirts of Morioka you will find the Ho'onji (Temple of the 500 Buddhist statues), Iwate Museum of Art, Koiwai Farm who's products are famous throughout Japan and is also home of the February snow sculpture festival, Morioka Handiworks Square where you can try making traditional products, two Aeon shopping malls, an Ice Arena, a science museum, zoo and several swimming pools (the largest being Kenji world) and Tsunagi hot springs.
Where is good to eat in Morioka?Edit
Odori has a large selection of restaurants. Some of my recommendations would be:
- Picca Pecca - pan-Asian with a funky interior, 3000yen 2 hours all-you-can-drink plus 6 dishes
- Barrel Izakaya - Japanese style pub, 4 dishes and 150 minutes all-you-can-drink from 2500yen
- Watami - Japanese food, 8 dishes and all-you-can-drink 3000yen
- Kitchen Bar - Japanese food
- Daruma - Japanese food, 3000yen party course includes 2 hours all-you-can-drink
- Bekka - Japanese food, 3000yen party course includes 150 minutes all-you-can-drink
- Bu-ya - grilled meat and great beanbags, above Club Sega on cinema street
- There is also a great 1940's restaurant in the basement opposite the Moss building which I can't remember the name of. You can try old fashioned Japanese food, including grilled sparrow.
For lunch timeEdit
- Buzz Curry - about 900yen a dish. There is one next to Moss Building and one in the bottom of Morioka station
- Pica Pica Pintxos - lunch from 500yen
- Little Spoon - another curry shop, add your own topping and choose the spiciness. From 300yen.
- Aunt Stella - a cookie and tea shop that also does great sandwiches (under Morioka Station)
- Starbucks - on cinema street
- Saint Marc Cafe - amazing chocolate croissants and live piano music (Odori main street)
- Morioka City Website
- Morioka Cricket Club
- Morioka Cricket Facebook group
- Aiina - Iwate's prefectural culture centre
- English speaking hairdresser (site Japanese only)
- Live music (Japanese only)
- Zenrinkan English school
- Johnny Jazz club (Japanese only)
- Morioka cinema listings (Japanese only)
- Japan Food Guru-Listing of restaurants in Morioka