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Event Roundup: September 2021

Start autumn on a creative note with art and magical evening illuminations

· Autumn,Events

1. Jozenji Street Stream market & furin trellis

定禅寺通活性化検討会 大規模社会実験

Through September 5

Central Sendai

*UPDATE: This event has been suspended due to Miyagi Prefecture's latest State of Emergency declaration. For details, see here.*

Jozenji Street Stream is a project aimed at revitalizing central Sendai, particularly the Jozenji-dori area. Street Stream events happening in September include an open-air market and a furin trellis. Furin, Japanese wind chimes, are a classic feature of summer in Japan, as it’s believed that the tinkling of the bells in the breeze helps one cool off. A trellis decked out with glass furin will be set up along the street on September 4 and 5. It's being advertised as a photo-op spot, but the sound of the bells is sure to be at least as charming as the sight.

The open-air market is divided into two areas, each with a different theme. In the Lifestyle Area, August 31 to September 5 is Eco・Sustainable Week. The Food Area is facing various restrictions due to Sendai City's latest State of Emergency declaration, so the Sendai Bar and Sendai Oktoberfest events have been cancelled. The Food Area's Somosomo Ichi, offering food for the "social good" is still on though.

Hours: 11:00–19:00 (markets)

Admission: Free

Official event website: jozenji-street.com

Jozenji-dori details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Along Jozenji-dori Avenue (定禅寺通). Map here.

Access by rail: A short walk from Kotodai-koen Station or Omachi Nishi-koen Station

Access by Loople Sendai bus: The Jozenji-dori Ave./Sendai City Hall and Sendai Mediatheque bus stops are both located along Jozenji-dori Avenue. Details & timetables here (English).

2. Egypt, Land of Discoveries

古代エジプト展

Through September 5

Central Sendai

An exhibition of some 250 pieces from the Egyptian collection of the the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, a museum known for its ongoing excavations and research in Egypt. The exhibition will introduce various aspects of ancient Egypt, including aesthetics and religion. Highlights include five sets of coffins and two mummies. The mummies remain in their original cloth bandages—in order to avoid damaging the mummies by physically removing their bandages, the museum analyzed the mummies using CT scans instead.

Hours: 9:00–16:45 (last entry 16:15)

Closed days: Mondays (except public holidays), the day after a public holiday

Admission: ¥1,600 adults, ¥1,400 high school and college students, ¥900 elementary and junior high students

Languages: The museum's permanent collection features limited English, Korean, and Chinese. No confirmation yet, but it looks like this temporary exhibition may be English friendly.

Details (English): leidenegypt.jp/english

Location: Sendai City Museum (仙台市博物館). Map here.

Access by subway: 8-minute walk from International Center Station

Access by bus: 20 minutes from Sendai Station. At Sendai Station West Exit stop #16, board Loople Sendai bus. Alight at bus stop 5, Sendai City Museum/Sendai International Center. Timetable here (English).

3. A World of Moomin Originals

ムーミン原作の世界展

Through September 5

Central Sendai

The Moomins began as a family of characters in children's books written by Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson. The books are so beloved both at home and abroad that they have inspired countless commercial spinoffs, from merchandise to theme parks, and cartoons which have eclipsed the books in popularity. This exhibition presents an opportunity for fans to get back to Moomin's roots, with illustrations from the original Moomin series on display.

If you're a Moomin fan and looking for a delicious bite to eat, we also recommend visiting the Moomin-themed Cafe Domani, and indie cafe run by a couple who are loyal fans of the series.

Hours: 11:00–19:00 (last entry 18:30)

Closed days: Usually none, but one may occur once in a while. See official website for details.

Admission: ¥800 adults, children ages high school & younger ¥600

Details: forus.co.jp

Location: Sendai Forus (仙台フォーラス). Map here.

Access: 3-minute walk from Hirose-dori Station, or 10-minute walk from Sendai Station

4. Beyond Ripples: A Voyage Emerging Artists Support Program Exhibition of Motoki Ohkubo and Makiko Satake

若手アーティスト支援プログラムVoyage
大久保雅基・佐竹真紀子展「波紋のかなたに」

Through September 5
Shiogama, Miyagi

The Voyage series is a program sponsored by the Shiogama Jun Sugimura Museum to support emerging artists, with the culmination of each Voyage session being a public exhibition of the participating artists' work. This session’s Voyage artists are Motoki Ohkubo, a sound artist and Sendai native; and Makiko Satake, an experimental painter from Rifu. The museum is very English-friendly, so check out their blog entry below for more details. If you want to make a full day out of it, the museum also offers an English-friendly lacquer brooch making workshop—no reservations needed!

Hours: 10:00–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Admission (includes Voyage exhibition & permanent collection): ¥500 adults, ¥400 university and high school students, children ages junior high & under free

Languages: English

Details (English): sugimurajun.shiomo.jp

Location: Shiogama Sugimura Jun Museum of Art (塩釜市淳杉村美術館). Map here.

Access: 10-minute walk from Hon-Shiogama Station

5. Jurassic Big Dinosaur Show

ジュラシック大恐竜展

Through September 12

Tagajo, Miyagi

A dino exhibition dedicated to large dinosaurs. Highlights include a Tyrannosaurus, a Brachiosaurus, an Allosaurus, and a feathered Deinonychus. Some of the dinos, like the Tyrannosaurus, will be displayed as full-body skeletons; others will be presented as life-sized animatronic statues, bringing the dinosaurs to life in a fun way.

Hours: 9:30–17:00 (last entry 16:30) most days, 9:30–19:00 (last entry 18:30) September 4 & 11

Closed days: Mondays

Admission: ¥1,600 adults, ¥800 children ages elementary through high school. Children preschool age & younger free.

Languages: The museum's permanent collection offers limited English. No word yet on the languages available for the dinosaur exhibition.

Event details: thm.pref.miyagi.jp

Museum details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Tohoku History Museum (東北歴史博物館). Map here.

Access: At Kofuku-Tagajo Station

6. Animage & Ghibli Exhibition

「アニメージュとジブリ展」一冊の雑誌からジブリは始まった

Through September 12

Ishinomaki, Miyagi

Animage is one of the most influential anime and manga magazines of all time. It was the first to publish Ghibli's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and other such classic manga. This exhibition will focus on the time when Toshio Suzuki was active as editor (during the 1970s and 80s)—from the time before "anime" was a household word, through anime's leap into the mainstream with the first broadcasts of Mobile Suit Gundam.

Hours: 10:00–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Closed days: Mondays

Admission: ¥1,500 adults, ¥1,000 junior high and high school students, ¥800 elementary school students

Details: animage-ghibli.jp

Location: Maruhon MakiArt Terrace (マルホンまきあーとテラス). Map here.

Access: 13 minutes by bus from Ishinomaki Station, followed by a short walk. At the bus stop in front of Ishinomaki Station (石巻駅前), board an Ishinomaki Senshu Daigaku Line (石巻専修大学線) bus bound for Iinokawa (飯野川). Alight at Sogo Undo Koen (総合運動公園) bus stop. Timetables here.

7. A Tale of Yokai & Specters

妖怪・もののけ物語

Through September 13

Yamadera, Yamagata

Cool off this summer in a traditional Japanese way—with kaidan ghost stories! Tradition holds that the "chill down your spine" you get from being spooked is literal, that it can help you cool off in the heat of summer—something tough to do before the advent of air conditioning. This exhibition will feature paintings and sculptures of yokai from the early Edo period, so you don't have to rely on your imagination to get those chills.

Hours: 9:00–16:30

Closed days: None during exhibition

Admission: ¥400 adults, children ages high school & younger free

Languages: The museum's permanent collection is English friendly

Event details: yamadera-basho.jp

Museum details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum (山寺芭蕉記念館). Map here.

Access: 8-minute walk from Yamadera Station

8. Reborn Art Festival 2021: Altruism and Fluidity

リボーンアートフェスティバル2021: 利他と流動性

Through September 26

Ishinomaki, Miyagi

A major art festival held biennially in Ishinomaki, celebrating and promoting the revival of the area in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The festival features a plethora of site-specific artworks, plus food, music, and performance art events. If you want to learn more about what the festival entails before going, check out the Visit Miyagi article "A Visit to the Reborn Art Festival."

Hours: Varies by artwork

Admission: An RAF passport covers entry to all artworks*. Passports cost ¥2,000 for Miyagi residents. For those from outside the prefecture, passports are ¥3,000 for adults and ¥2,500 for college and high school students. (*Food events and ticketed concerts cost extra.)

Languages: English

Official website (English): reborn-art-fes.jp/en/

Location: Ishinomaki and Onagawa. Map here (Ishinomaki Station is pinned, as the Reborn Art booth set up just outside the station is the most convenient location to purchase a passport for those coming by public transportation.).

Access: Varies by area. Artworks in the Central Ishinomaki Area are accessible via a short walk from Ishinomaki Station. Artworks in farther flung areas can be accessed by car, bicycle, or bus.

9. Rice Paddy Art Along the Nairiku Line

内陸線田んぼアート

Through late September (best viewing through early September)

Between Kakunodate & Kitaakita, Akita

Tanbo (lit. "rice paddy") art is an eco-friendly art trend in Japan popularized by the tanbo art masterpieces in Inakadate, Aomori that have drawn tourists from all over the world. By planting different varieties of heirloom rice, tanbo artists are able to create colorful, three-dimensional artworks made purely from rice plants.

The Nairiku Line is a great tanbo art destination because you get to see more than just one artwork—several rice paddies along the Nairiku Line serve as canvases. You don't even need to leave the train to get a good view of the art, so it's super convenient for those who are mobility-challenged or don't have car. Visitors are also encouraged to disembark and view the artworks up close if they like.

Hours: Tanbo artworks are always open, but check the Nairiku Line timetables if you want to ride the train to view them.

Closed days: None

Admission: Viewing the tanbo art is free. Riding the train costs the standard fare. Riding the entire length of the Nairiku Line so you can see all the artworks costs ¥1,700. One day all-you-can-ride passes are available for ¥2,500, which allows you to hop on and off the train as much as you like to view the tanbo art up close.

Details: akita-nairiku.com

Location: Rice paddies along the Nairiku Line (内陸線) between Kakunodate Station (角館駅) and Takanosu Station (鷹巣駅). Maps here and here.

Access: Along the Nairiku Line

11. Fairytale Village Light-Up

童話村の森ライトアップ

September 1–October 17

Hanamaki, Iwate

A colorful illumination event at the Miyazawa Kenji Fairytale Village. Kenji Miyazawa was a writer born in Hanamaki who lived during the late Taisho–early Showa period. Though a (posthumously) celebrated poet and novelist, it is his children's literature that has become the most famous—his best known work being Night on the Galactic Railroad. This museum, located in his hometown, celebrates his contributions to children's literature in particular. This light up event, taking place in the gardens that surround the Fairytale Village museum, imparts a fantasy-like atmosphere that will transport visitors to another world, much like Miyazawa's books.

Hanamaki is encouraging visitors to take advantage of the city's public transportation by offering a fantastic bargain: ride a Tsuchizawa Line bus and receive a ticket good for free admission to 5 museums and sightseeing facilities in Hanamaki, including Fairytale Village! See bus timetable link for details.

Hours: Sundown–21:00

Closed days: None through September 21, closed weekdays after that (If a public holiday falls on a weekday, it will be open.)

Admission: Free

Details: kanko-hanamaki.ne.jp

Location: Miyazawa Kenji Fairytale Village (宮沢賢治童話村). Map here.

Access on foot: 29-minute walk from Shin-Hanamaki Station

Access by bus: 2 minutes by bus from Shin-Hanamaki Station or 17-minutes by bus from Hanamaki Station, followed by a 5-minute walk. Board a Tsuchizawa Line (土沢線) bus, alight at Kenji Kinenkan-guchi (賢治記念館口) bus stop. Timetables here (click "土沢時刻表" link near bottom of page).

10. Omoshiroyama Cosmos-burg 

面白山コスモスベルグ

Early–late September

Yamagata City, Yamagata

Cosmos-burg is a seven-hectare field located in the Omoshiroyama Highlands that straddle the border between Miyagi and Yamagata. It is seeded with over one million cosmos, a wildflower that blooms in early autumn. This place rarely draws big crowds, making it a great spot to simply spread out and relax in a peaceful seasonal setting.

Omoshiroyama Momijigawa Gorge, home to a gorgeous and slightly thrilling riverside hiking trail, is located just a few minutes' walk from Cosmos-burg. If you're a fan of nature walks, combining a visit to the two makes for a great day out!

Hours: 8:00–17:00

Admission: Free

Details: kankou.yamagata.yamagata.jp

Location: Omoshiroyama Cosmos-burg (面白山コスモスベルグ). Map here.

Access: 10-minute walk from Omoshiroyama-Kogen Station

12. Kaminoyama Onsen Scarecrow Show 9 Days 

かにの山温泉 かかし展示9days

September 4–12

Kaminoyama, Yamagata

A quaint festival showcasing handmade scarecrows, from the beautiful to the bizarre. Though it looks like the festival is being held on a smaller scale than in normal years, it will still make for some wacky photographs and a fun day out. After checking out the scarecrows, round out your day with a visit to Kaminoyama Castle or a dip in one of the town's many onsen.

Hours: ~15:00

Admission: Free

Details: kaminoyama-spa.com

Location: Kaminoyama Shimin Park (上山市民公園). Map here.

Access: 15-minute walk from Kaminoyama Onsen Station

13. Naoto Sunohara exhibition Searchingly

春原直人 個展 "Searchingly"

September 4–October 3

Shiogama, Miyagi

Painter and mountain climber Naoto Sunahara communicates the thoughts and experiences she has had while hiking through ink on canvas. The paintings are abstract, expressing the feeling of being on a mountain, not just your run-of-the-mill pictographic representation of one.

Hours: 11:30–17:30

Closed days: Mondays

Admission: Free

Languages: English, Esperanto OK

Birdo Flugas details (English): sendaimotions.com/blog/birdo-flugas

Event details: birdoflugas.com

Location: Birdo Space (ビルドスペース). Map here.

Access: 10-minute walk from Hon-Shiogama Station

14. Jozenji-dori Clean Up

定禅寺通クリーンアップ

September 8

Central Sendai

*UPDATE: This event has been suspended due to Miyagi Prefecture's latest State of Emergency declaration. For details, see here.*

An easy volunteering opportunity conveniently located in downtown Sendai! Help clean up after the Jozenji Street Stream festivities by picking up trash around the Jonzenji-dori area. Though the event hosts will have some trash bags, gloves, and loaner tongs available, they ask that participants bring their own if possible, as theirs are limited in number.

Hours: 8:00–10:00

Fee: Free

Reservations: None needed

Event details: jozenji-street.com

Jozenji-dori details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Along Jozenji-dori Avenue and connecting streets. Map here.

Access by rail: A short walk from Kotodai-koen Station or Omachi Nishi-koen Station

Access by Loople Sendai bus: The Jozenji-dori Ave./Sendai City Hall and Sendai Mediatheque bus stops are both located along Jozenji-dori Avenue. Details & timetables here (English).

15. Hagurosan Red Spider Lily Village Festival

羽黒山 彼岸花の里まつり

September 11–October 5

Osaki, Miyagi

Rumored to be the best spot in northern Miyagi for red spiderlily viewing. It is said that the red spiderlily goes by over a thousand names in Japan. The name used above, higanbana (彼岸花) is perhaps the most common; manjushage (曼殊沙華) is another. "花" (pronounced "bana" here) means "flower," and "Higan" is a Japanese Buddhist holiday that takes place during the spring and autumnal equinoxes. Because the red spider lily blooms during the autumn Higan holiday, it is known as "higanbana."

Hours: Always open

Admission: Free

Details: blog.goo.ne.jp/nagaoka3111

Location: Hagurosan Park (羽黒山公園). Map here.

Access: About 20 minutes by bus from Furukawa Station. At the bus stop in front of Furukawa Station (古川駅前), board a Furukawa Line (古川線) bus. Alight at Haguro (羽黒) bus stop. Bus route map here, timetables here (click "古川線時刻表") to view timetable. Bus fare along the Furukawa Line is conveniently priced at a flat rate of just ¥100 per ride, no matter how far you ride!

16. Hijiori Lantern Festival

肘折の灯

September 11–October 10

Hijiori Onsen, Yamagata

Paper lanterns decorated with intricate designs by professional artists are hung throughout Hijiori Onsen Village and illuminated at night. The lanterns are usually hung both inside and out, but due to concern over coronavirus, this year they will be hung outside only. The glow of the lanterns lend a romantic ambiance to the streets of this charming onsen village, the perfect place for a stroll on an autumn evening.

Hours: 18:00–20:30

Admission: Free

Official website: hijiorinohi.com

Location: Hijiori Onsen (肘折温泉). Map here.

Access: 50 minutes by bus from Shinjo Station. At Shinjo Station (新庄駅) board bus bound for Hijiori Onsen (肘折温泉). Timetable here.

Access to Shinjo Station from Sendai: Accessible via train or 140 minutes by the 48 Liner highway bus. For 48 Liner info, see here.

17. Tatsuya Miyanishi's Miracle World Exhibition

宮西達也の世界ミラクルワールド絵本展

September 13–26

Hanamaki, Iwate

Are you a fan of Ultraman Dad or You Are Umasou (or any of the rest of Miyanishi’s Tyrannosaurus children’s books)? Then head up to Hanamaki to check out this limited-time exhibition of his art! Original illustrations from his most popular titles will be displayed, along with earlier drawings from his days as a student.

Hours: 8:30–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Closed days: Mondays (If Monday is a public holiday, the museum will be open Monday and closed the following day.)

Admission: ¥700 adults, ¥400 college and high school students, ¥300 children ages elementary to junior high

Details: kanko-hanamaki.ne.jp

Location: Yorozu Tetsugoro Museum (萬鉄五郎記念美術館). Map here.

Access: 9-minute walk from Tsuchigawa Station

18. Shibata Red Spiderlily Festival

しばた曼珠沙華まつり

Mid-September through early October

Shibata, Miyagi

Funaoka Castle Site Park, best known its cherry blossoms, is also home to a colony of thirteen-thousand red spider lilies that bloom every September. Come celebrate the beginning of autumn and blossoming of this archetypal fall flower with a stroll through this scenic park. It is said that the red spider lily is known by over a thousand names in Japan. The one used above, manjushage (曼殊沙華), is the one used in Buddhist scriptures. In such texts, the manjushage is described as "a heavenly flower which does not exist on Earth."

Hours: Always open

Admission: Free

Details: tohokukanko.jp

Location: Funaoka Castle Site Park (船岡城址公園). Map here.

Access: 15-minute walk from Funaoka Station

19. Sendai Short Film Festival 

仙台短編映画祭

September 18–20

Central Sendai

An independent cinema festival screening all manner of short indie films. Films are organized into screening "programs" tied together by a similar theme or aesthetic. Films featured this year include intriguing titles such as:

  • After the Revolt, Before Liberation
  • I Can't Say
  • Here Is the Sunny Spot
  • Dandan's Fortune
  • Drift X3
  • Sludge
  • Pulverize
  • I Am Genki

Time: Varies by film, but screenings start sometime between 11:00 and 18:00.

Fee: ¥1,000 per screening program for adults, ¥800 students ages high school & younger.

Reservations: None needed, but possible. Day-of tickets are released at 10:00 each day, sold on a first-come-first-served basis.

Languages: Typically, some of the films are in English or have English subtitles. English support is available by emailing info@shortpiece.com.

Official event website: shortpiece.com

Venue details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: sendai mediatheque (せんだいメディアテーク ). Map here.

Access: 6-minute walk from Kotodai-Koen Station

20. Mt. Haguro Pagoda Light Up & Evening Prayer

国宝『羽黒山五重塔』ライトアップによる夜間参拝

September 18–20

Haguro, Yamagata

The Dewa Sanzan is a sacred area that belongs in a league of its own. It is neither Shinto nor Buddhist, but the home of the syncretic religion Shugendo. Religious taxonomy aside, the holy atmosphere of the area is evident even to the most casual of visitors. The Dewa Sanzan consists of three holy mountains, with Mount Haguro being the easiest to access. At this atmospheric evening service, visitors can walk the pilgrims' path through the forest to the Mount Haguro Pagoda (a National Treasure) at night, using a traditional lantern to light the way.

Hours: 17:30–20:30 (last entry 20:00)

Fee: The temple requests that adults make a donation of at least ¥500

Details: yamagatakanko.com

Location: Mount Haguro Five-Storied Pagoda (羽黒山 五重塔). Map here.

Access: 40 minutes by bus from Tsuruoka Station. At bus platform #1 in front of Tsuruoka Station (鶴岡駅前1のりば), board bus bound for Haguro Sancho (羽黒山頂). Alight at Haguro Center (羽黒センター). Timetables here, English bus info here. NOTE: Though the instructions say to get off at "Haguro Center," that stop isn't actually listed on the timetable. Play it safe by confirming which stop to alight at with the sightseeing information desk at Tsuruoka Station or the bus driver before departing. If you go by bus, you'll need to spend the night near the temple. Fortunately, there are numerous charming accommodations nearby; we recommend one of the pilgrims lodgings at the base of the temple approach.

21. Hagi Matsuri

萩まつり

September 18–26

Taihaku Ward, Sendai

A celebration of one of Japan's lesser known traditional flowers, hagi (bush clover). Dainty and modest yet beautifully colored, hagi is counted among Japan's Seven Flowers of Autumn. The floral highlight of the festival is the hagi tunnel (pictured above). On select days, visitors can also enjoy live koto and shakuhachi concerts.

Hours: 9:00–16:45 (last entry 16:00)

Admission: Adults ¥240, ¥60 children ages elementary to junior high, children ages preschool & younger free

Details: miyagi-kankou.or.jp

Location: Sendai Yasoen Gardens (仙台市野草園). Map here.

Access by rail: 20-minute walk from Atagobashi Station

Access by bus: From Sendai Station Bus Pool Stop 11, board bus bound for Sendai Yasoen (仙台野草園). Alight at Yasoen-mae (野草園前), the final stop. Timetables here.

22. Kesennuma Port Marché

気仙沼みなとでマルシェ

September 19

Kesennuma, Miyagi

Kesennuma Port Marché is a bimonthly open-air event featuring food, drink, and handicraft stalls run by local producers. The event takes place at Mishione Yokocho, a small yokocho of trailers housing indie restaurants and a sento bathouse, built where a factory washed away by the 2011 tsunami once stood. Shops participating in the September market are TBA, but past highlights have included Taiwanese pineapple sales, authentic Thai food from Wasian Cafe Aimaki, and shark tooth accessories by Aqua Labo Kesennuma.

Hours: 8:00–14:00

Admission: Free

Event official Facebook Page: facebook.com/kesennuma.marche

Mishione Yokocho details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Mishione Yokocho (みしおね横丁). Map here.

Access: 10 minutes by bus from Kesennuma Station (気仙沼駅), followed by a 2-minute walk. Board clockwise city loop (市内循環) bus, alight at Umi no Ichi-mae (海の市前) bus stop. Timetable here.

23. Japan's Biggest Imonikai 

日本一芋煮会フェスティバル

September 19

Yamagata City, Yamagata

*UPDATE: This event has been suspended due to concern over coronavirus. For details, see here.*

Imonikai are a beloved Japanese fall tradition. Friends and family gather in parks or along riverbanks to cook and eat imoni (potato stew) together. This imonikai festival expands the tradition to novel proportions by being the biggest one in Japan—certified as such by Guinness World Records! The focal point of the event is a bubbling pot of imoni so huge it takes construction equipment to handle it! In addition to the imoni, there will also be booths featuring various other foods and entertainment set up.

Due to concern over coronavirus, the contents of this year's festival are a little different from regular years. No eating or drinking will be allowed in the event area, and the entering the festival grounds is by reservation only—sign up for either the morning or afternoon time slot. Only residents of the six Tohoku prefectures (Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, Yamagata, Akita, and Aomori) plus Niigata will be allowed entry.

Hours: 9:00–11:00 & 12:00–14:00. Everyone is required to exit the venue between sessions.

Admission: Purchase of an imoni takeout set is required for admission. A set costs ¥2,000 and includes enough imoni for 4 people. Although the imoni takeout is for 4 people, only only 2 people will be allowed into the event venue with each purchase.

Reservations: Required. Must book online before September 4.

Official website: y-yeg.jp/imoni/

Location: Japan's Biggest Imonikai Festival Grounds (日本一の芋煮会フェスティバルの会場). Map here.

Access: 2.9 kilometers on foot or by free rental cycle from Yamagata Station. For cycle rental details, see here.

24. Zao Pension Village Open Gardens: Mountain Gardens of Autumn

蔵王ペンション村オープンガーデン 山の秋の庭

September 20–October 3

Kaminoyama, Yamagata

"Pensions" are small, homey inns, similar to Western bed-and-breakfast inns. The Zao Pension Village is a cluster of these inns located on the outskirts of Zao Onsen. Many of the pension owners are proud of the fine gardens they've cultivated and open their gardens to the public so that everyone can admire their natural artistry. Several of the pensions are also open to non-staying guests for lunch and cafe time, so you can stop in for a delicious break while touring the many gardens.

Hours: 10:00–15:00

Admission: Free

Details (English): opengardenzao.com

Location: Zao Pension Village (蔵王ペンション村). Map here (Pension Stella, one of the pensions in the Zao Pension Village, is pinned.).

Access: 5 minutes by taxi from the Zao Onsen Bus Terminal (蔵王温泉バスターミナル). The bus terminal is about 40 minutes by bus from Yamagata Station. At Yamagata Ekimae Bus Stop 1 (山形駅前1番), board bus bound forZao Onsen (蔵王温泉). Alight at Zao Onsen Bus Terminal (蔵王温泉バスターミナル), the final stop. Timetables here.

25. Fall Bonsai Exhibition at Sairi Yashiki

秋の盆栽展

September 22–30

Marumori, Miyagi

An exhibition of fall bonsai at Sairi Yashiki, the sprawling historical estate of a Taisho-era merchant family.

Hours: 9:30–16:00

Admission: ¥620 adults, ¥310 children (includes admission to Sairi Yashiki estate)

Languages: Limited English

Event details: miyagi-kankou.or.jp

Sairi Yashiki details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Sairi Yashiki (齋理屋敷). Map here.

Access: 2.5 kilometers from Marumori Station on foot or by free rental cycle.

26. Rainbow Road Light Up & Evening Prayer at Mt. Haguro

国宝『羽黒山五重塔』ライトアップによる夜間参拝

September 23–26 & October 2–3

Haguro, Yamagata

The Dewa Sanzan is a sacred area that belongs in a league of its own. It is neither Shinto nor Buddhist, but the home of the syncretic religion Shugendo. Religious taxonomy aside, the holy atmosphere of the area is evident even to the most casual of visitors. The Dewa Sanzan consists of three holy mountains, with Mount Haguro being the easiest to access. Rainbow Road is an extra-colorful version of the temple's standard summer light up. Visitors can walk the pilgrims' path at night, through the forest to the Mount Haguro Pagoda, a National Treasure and the focal point of the illumination.

Hours: 17:30–20:30 (last entry 20:00)

Fee: The temple requests that adults make a donation of at least ¥500

Details: mokkedano.net

Location: Mount Haguro Five-Storied Pagoda (羽黒山 五重塔). Map here.

Access: 40 minutes by bus from Tsuruoka Station. At bus platform #1 in front of Tsuruoka Station (鶴岡駅前1のりば), board bus bound for Haguro Sancho (羽黒山頂). Alight at Haguro Center (羽黒センター). Timetables here, English bus info here. NOTE: Though the instructions say to get off at "Haguro Center," that stop isn't actually listed on the timetable. Play it safe by confirming which stop to alight at with the sightseeing information desk at Tsuruoka Station or the bus driver before departing. If you go by bus, you'll need to spend the night near the temple. Fortunately, there are numerous charming accommodations nearby; we recommend one of the pilgrims lodgings at the base of the temple approach.

27. Kesennuma Street Live Festival 

気仙沼ストリートライブフェスティバル

September 26

Kesennuma, Miyagi

A free outdoor music festival in Miyagi's northern port city of Kesennuma. Usually the festival features some 60+ bands performing at several locations (the venue pictured above is Seiryoin Temple!) throughout Kesennuma, but this year the festival will be held on a smaller scale. For 2021, there will be one stage and eight bands performing live. In addition to the live shows, another 15 to 20 bands will be performing via video (whether live or pre-recorded is TBA).

Hours: 10:00–17:00

Admission: Free

Official website: k-streetlive.com

Location: Kesennuma City (気仙沼市). Exact venue location TBA. When it's announced, it will appear here.

Access: Varies depending on where event venue ends up being, but is likely to be a short walk from a train station in Kesennuma City, or by bus from Kesennuma Station.

28. Beach Yoga in Fudai

ビーチヨガin普代浜園地キラウミ

September 26

Fudai, Iwate

Turn a regular yoga session into something special by doing it at a scenic location! This open-air group yoga event takes place at a scenic, peaceful beach in the Sanriku Fukko National Park.

Time: 7:00~

Fee: ¥1,000, includes gift certificate that can be used at participating locations throughout Fudai

Reservations: None needed

Details: sanriku-travel.jp

Location: Fudai Beach Park Kira Umi Minamihama (普代浜園地キラウミ南浜). Map here.

Access: 22-minute walk from Fudai Station

29. Tome Delicious Things Market

登米おいしいもの市

September 29

Central Sendai

Tome "City" is an agricultural powerhouse of Miyagi. Though a city in name, Tome is mostly rural, probably best known for the Lotus Festival held at its lakes Izunuma and Naganuma every August. Agricultural specialties of Tome include lotus root, rice, and Sendai-gyu beef (Most Sendai-gyu cattle aren't actually raised in Sendai. Surprised?). In addition to fresh produce, inaka-style prepared foods will also be available, such as pickles, mochi, and beef skewers.

Hours: 10:00–15:00

Admission: Free

Details: miyagi-kankou.or.jp

Location: Kotodai Park Citizen's Plaza (勾当台公園市民広場). Map here.

Access: Above Kotodai-koen Station

30. Sendai Independants

せんだいアンデパンダン展

September 29–October 10

Central Sendai

An art exhibition inspired by the radical 1884 exhibition in Paris, Le salon des indépendants, which had neither a selection jury nor awards. Ten Sendai art galleries collaborate on this similarly democratic and free-spirited annual art show.

Hours: Varies by venue

Closed days: Mondays (all venues)

Admission: Free

Official website: sendai21-independants.com

Locations: 10 art galleries and event spaces in central Sendai, including Gallery Turnaround and SARP. Map here.

Access: Varies by location, but all are within walking distance of subway and/or train stations in central Sendai.

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