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Event Roundup: August 2020

Museum exhibitions galore, charming evening illuminations, and more!

· Events,Summer

To the best of our knowledge, at the time of publication all events listed in our August 2020 Event Roundup are still on. However, please keep in mind that these events are still subject to change or cancellation depending on how the coronavirus situation and government restrictions progress. For the most up-to-date information, please check directly with the municipalities or facilities hosting the events. Naturally, coronavirus-prevention measures will be in place. For information on which specific measures are being instituted where, please see the website of the event or establishment you’re interested in.

1. Fukko Tadami Line Summer Vacation Train

風っこ只見線夏休み号

August 1 & 2

Aizuwakamatsu & Kaneyama, Fukushima

A special summer-only event train along the scenic Tadami Line in Aizu! Though the Tadami Line can be ridden any time of year, the trip is especially refreshing on this summer event train, a rare vintage model with open-air cars. The breeze flowing through the open-air cars is not only cooling on a hot summer's day, but also keeps the viral load in the air to a minimum, reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission.

Hours: Departs Aizuwakamatsu Station at 10:15, departs Aizu-Kawaguchi Station at 13:56

Reservations: Required. Can be booked online or in person at major JR stations

Details: jr-sendai.com

Location: Runs along the Tadami Line (只見線) from Aizuwakamatsu Station (会津若松駅) to Aizu-kawaguchi Station (会津川口駅). Maps here and here.

Access: At Aizuwakamatsu Station, Aizu-Kawaguchi Station, and select stations in between

2. Kesennuma Katsuo Matsuri

気仙沼かつお祭り

Through August 10

Kesennuma, Miyagi

Did you know Kesennuma Port lands the biggest catch of katsuo (skipjack tuna) in all of Japan? The city celebrates this distinction annually at their Katsuo Matsuri, which this year has been arranged to minimize crowds. This year, the length of the festival has been increased and the variety of events reduced down to its core attraction: eating fresh katsuo. This year, the "festival" consists simply of limited-time-only dishes prepared with raw katsuo being served at select restaurants, and lottery drawings for katsuo-themed prizes. If that's tempting but you want more out of a trip all the way to Kesennuma than just a meal, check out the Kesennuma Fish Market while you're there, the very spot where Japan's #1 haul of katsuo gets landed. Visitors can watch the action from an observation deck on the second floor, which also features a small but interesting museum about the fishing industry in Kesennuma.

If you don't have a car and want to hit multiple festival locations without shelling out for a taxi each time, consider renting a bicycle at Kesennuma Station or Umi no Ichi.

Event details: kesennuma-kanko.jp

Umi no Ichi details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Locations: Umi no Ichi (海の市), Kesennuma Osakana Ichiba (気仙沼お魚市場), Kesennuma Sakana no Eki (気仙沼魚の駅). Maps here, here, and here.

Access (Umi no Ichi): 10 minutes by city bus from Kesennuma Station. From the bus stop in front of Kesennuma Station (気仙沼駅前), board clockwise (時計回り) city loop (市内循環) bus. Alight at Umi no Ichi-mae (海の市前) bus stop. Timetable here.

Access (Kesennuma Osakana Ichiba): 8 minutes from Kesennuma Station by city bus, followed by a 5-minute walk. At the bus stop in front of Kesennuma Station (気仙沼駅前), board City Loop Line (市内循環) bus, alight at Minato-machi (港町) bus stop. Timetable here.

Access (Kesennuma Sakana no Eki): 11-minute walk from Minami-Kesennuma Station

3. Sendai Tanabata Special Exhibition: Omoiyo Onegaiyo Todoke 

仙台七夕まつり特設展示 ~想いよ願いよ届け~

Through August 16
Central Sendai

Unfortunately, this year's Sendai Tanabata Festival has been cancelled due to concern over coronavirus. As a consolation, small exhibitions about this famous festival are being offered at locations around central Sendai.

One such location is Forus, a fashionable shopping mall near what's usually the hub of the Tanabata Festival. The exhibition will introduce a bit about the festival's history, including a display of Showa-era posters advertising the festival. There's also a crafting corner where you can make a traditional tanzaku (a colored paper strip you write a wish on, then hang on a bamboo stalk).

Hours: Same as Forus Building (10:00–20:00)

Admission: Free

Details: forus.co.jp

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

Access: 2-minute walk from Hirosedori Station

4. Forus X Turnaround Aono Fumiaki Exhibition

Forus X Turnaround 青野文昭展

Through August 16

Central Sendai

Aono Fumiaki is a Sendai native who creates artworks from found and tattered objects like torn cloth and broken furniture, "restoring" them in an imaginative way so as to create utterly new, original objects. There's been few details released about this particular exhibition, but odds are it will be showcasing works done in Fumiaki's signature style.

Hours: Same as Forus Building (10:00–20:00)

Admisson: Free?

Details: forus.co.jp

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

Access: 2-minute walk from Hirosedori Station

5. Inaka de Nonbiri Engawa Cafe ~Ushu Kaido Narageshuku~

~羽州街道 楢下宿~ 田舎deの~んびり縁側カフェ

August 1–16

Kaminoyama, Yamagata

Narageshuku was once a thriving post town on the former Ushu Kaido road connecting Dewa (present-day Yamagata) to Edo, a pilgrimage samurai leaders were required to regularly make as part of the the Tokugawa Shogunate's sankin-kotai system. Though no longer as bustling as it once was, the town maintains a nice historical atmosphere and historical buildings that can be explored. One of these, a kominka called Yamadaya, opens to visitors as a cafe in midsummer. Local obaachan serve refreshing summer classics like kakigoori shaved ice and iced coffee, and sell heaps of their homegrown, freshly picked vegetables for dirt cheap.

Hours: 10:00–15:00

Details: yamagatakanko.com

Location: Narageshuku Yamadaya (楢下宿 山田屋). Map here.

Access: 20 minutes by bus from Kaminoyama Onsen Station, followed by a 2-minute walk. At the bus stop in front of Kaminoyama Onsen Station (かみのやま温泉駅前), board bus bound for Akayama (赤山). Alight at Narage Iriguchi (楢下入口) bus stop. Timetables here.

6. Juroku Rakan Matsuri

十六羅漢まつり

Through August 16

Yuza, Yamagata

The Juroku Rakan Iwa are a collection of sixteen images of rakan (disciples of Buddha) carved into the rocky shores of northern Yamagata. Gazing at these carvings from the shore, watching them stocially withstand the waves as they have for centuries, is a spiritual and inspiring sight for many. The statues can be viewed freely anytime, but will be illuminated in the evenings during this matsuri, adding a whole other dimension of feels to the scene. The nearby Dewa Futami (出羽二見), a local version of the famous Wedded Rocks down in Futami, Mie, will also be illuminated.

Hours: Always open, light-up 18:00–21:00

Admission: Free

Event details: yuzachokai.jp

Juroku Rakan Iwa details (English): gonorth.jp

Location: Juroku Rakan Iwa(十六羅漢岩). Map here.

Access: 13-minute walk from Fukura Station

7. Tanabata & Obon: A Seasonal Exhibition

季節展示「七夕と盆」

Through August 23

Central Sendai

Unfortunately, this year's Sendai Tanabata Festival has been cancelled due to concern over coronavirus. As a consolation, small exhibitions about this famous festival are being offered at locations around central Sendai.

Another such location is the Sendai City Museum of History & Folklore. The exhibition here features old photographs of Tanabata festivals during the Taisho and Showa eras, as well as replicas of elements of Tanabata and Obon festivals of yore.

Hours: 9:00–16:45 (last entry 16:15)

Languages: Permanent exhibits have signage in English & Chinese

Closed days: Mondays (except national holidays), the day following a national holiday, the 4th Thursday of every month

Admission: ¥240 adults, ¥180 high school students, ¥120 children ages elementary to junior high

Details: sendai-c.ed.jp

Location: Sendai City Museum of History & Folklore (仙台市歴史民俗資料館). Map here.

Access: 8-minute walk from Tsutsujigaoka Station

8. Hojuzan Light-Up

宝珠山ライトアップ・光のロードスタート 点燈式

Through August 23

Yamadera, Yamagata

Risshakuji is the iconic temple in Yamadera built precariously on the side of a steep, rocky mountain. On midsummer nights, the temple buildings are illuminated, creating a mystical scene.

Hours: 18:00–21:00

Admission: Viewing free. Temple entry ¥300 adults, ¥200 junior high students, ¥100 children ages 4 through grade 6

Event details: yamaderakankou.com

Temple details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Risshakuji Temple (立石寺). Map here.

Access: 7-minute walk from Yamadera Station

9. Kabutomushi petting zoo at Mushimushi Land

ムシムシランドのカブトムシ自然観察園

Through August 23

Tamura, Fukushima

Kabutomushi are the huge, scary-looking-but-harmless beetles that appear in Japanese forests in summer and are kept as short-term pets by Japanese children. Mushimushiland is a bug-themed park located in the woods of Tamura, where kabutomushi thrive in their natural habitat while still being accessible to visitors. The "petting zoo" area is a section of forest enclosed in a giant net where Mushimushiland staff have raised large numbers of kabutomushi. Visitors can enter the enclosure to observe and play with the bugs freely. Although Mushimushiland tends to be marketed towards families with children, it's a great time for anyone who likes bugs, adults included!

Hours: 9:30–16:30

Closed days: Wednesdays (except August 12)

Admission: ¥400 adults, ¥300 children

Details: mushimushiland.com

Location: Mushimushland (ムシムシランド). Map here.

10. Zen meditation experience at Zuiganji Temple

松島瑞巌寺「坐禅体験」

Saturdays through August 29

Matsushima, Miyagi

Zuiganji is a historic Buddhist temple located on the famous Matsushima Bay. With a stately construction and holy atmosphere that causes even casual sightseers to pause for a moment's quiet reflection, an actual meditation session here can leave a real impression on the spirit. Meditation sessions here are usually only available to groups who have consulted with the temple in advance, but this summer the temple is also offering public sessions available to individual visitors. These sessions are held in small groups and geared toward beginners, a safe, comfortable atmosphere to try out and come to appreciate this deeply spiritual practice in.

Fee: Free with temple admission fee (temple admission fee ¥700)

Reservations: Required. Book by sending a message via Facebook.

Event details: facebook.com/events

Temple details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Zuiganji Temple (瑞巌寺). Map here.

Access: 10-minute walk from Matsushimakaigan Station

11. Emi Ichinoseki Exhibition: Marche aux fleurs

一関恵美 墨画展 Marche aux fleurs

Through August 30

Iwanuma, Miyagi

Emi Ichinoseki is a Miyagi-based sumi-e painter. You may have seen her work on display at the Sugimura Jun Museum of Art, or on bottles of sake by local brewers Urakasumi and Ichinokura, who commission her to design labels. Her homepage is English-friendly, so check it out if you want to learn more about her work!

Marche aux fleurs is a small solo exhibition of Ichinoseki's work being held at Epic View, a cafe-gallery located just south of Sendai. The cafe roasts their own coffee beans, so you can enjoy fine art and fine coffee at the same time.

Hours: Tues–Sat 10:00–16:30 & 17:30–20:30, Sun 10:00–15:00

Closed days: Mondays

Admission: Free

Exhibition details: epicview.net

Emi Ichinoseki official HP: sumi-emi.com

Location: Art・Coffee Salon Epic View (Art・珈琲Salon Epic View). Map here.

Access: 8-minute walk from Iwanuma Station

12. Hajime no Ippo 30th Anniversary Exhibition 

連載30周年記念 はじめの一歩 大原画展 ~魂のバウト

Through August 30

Ishinomaki, Miyagi

This exhibition celebrates the manga's thirtieth year of publication. Initially held in Tokyo (George Morikawa's hometown) last year, Miyagi is only the second, and probably only other, location where it will be hosted. Exhibits of interest to hardcore fans include displays about the creation of the manga, lots of original artwork, and a pop-up shop selling limited edition Hajime no Ippo goods. Casual manga/anime otaku of any stripe will enjoy the themed food and drink available in the museum's cafe.

Hours: 9:00–18:00 (Last entry 17:30)

Admission: ¥840 adults, ¥520 children ages junior high to high school, ¥210 elementary school students, children ages preschool & younger free

Official event website: ippo.gengaten.com

Ishinomori Mangakan HP (English): mangattan.jp

Location: Ishinomori Mangakan (石ノ森萬画館). Map here.

Access: 15-minute walk from Ishinomaki Station

13. Lisa Larson: A Journey Through Time

リサ・ラーソン展 創作と出会いをめぐる旅

Through August 30

Iwaki, Fukushima

This modest city-run art museum has landed a big-name exhibition! Lisa Larson is an artist best known in Japan for her lion and striped-cat caricatures that appear on merchandise everywhere from Uniqlo to Tokyu Hands. At this exhibition, you can view original works by her and see how her signature aesthetic has evolved over time.

Hours: 9:30–17:00* every day except Friday. On Fridays, the museum is open until 20:00*

*Last entry 30 minutes prior to closing

Closed days: Mondays

Admission: ¥1,000 adults, ¥500 college & high school students, ¥300 children ages elementary to junior high

Details: city.iwaki.lg.jp

Location: Iwaki City Art Museum (いわき市立美術館). Map here.

Access: 12-minute walk from Iwaki Station

14. Ancient Shark: Discovery of a Fossilized Hybodus Fin Blade

古代ザメ:ヒボダス類のトゲ化石発見

Through August 30

Kuji, Iwate

Just this month, the fossilized remains of a hybodus, an ancient relative of the shark, were discovered at the Kuji Amber Mine in Iwate (Finally, some good news for 2020!). This discovery is significant because it's the first time a fossilized fin blade of this genus has ever been found in Japan. What makes the finding even more remarkable is that the fossil wasn't discovered by resarchers, or even amber miners—it was discovered by a family participating in an "amber mining experience" here.

In honor of this recent discovery, the Kuji Amber Museum is hosting a small exhibition showcasing the other fossils which have also been discovered by visitors to the amber mines here: specimens include the tooth of a Tyrannosauridae and the metatarsal of a small, velociraptor-like carnivore. What makes coming to this exhibit especially inspiring and worthwhile is that you, too, can have a chance to discover a fossil of your own while you are here—the amber-mining experience offered by the museum takes place in the same pit where some of these fossils were discovered (not to mention that you also get to hunt for amber at the same time)!

Hours: 9:00–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Closed days: None during August

Museum admission: ¥500 adults, ¥200 children

Fee (amber/fossil digging experience): ¥1,500 ages high school and up, ¥1,000 children ages elementary to junior high, ¥100 children ages preschool & younger

Reservations: Required for amber digging experience (can be booked online)

Kuji Amber details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Hybodus fossil details (English): asahi.com/ajw

Location: Kuji Amber Museum(久慈琥珀博物館). Map here.

Access from Kuji Station: About 7 minutes from Kuji Station (久慈駅) by bus, followed by a short shuttle bus* ride or 30-minute walk. Board Kuji Kohaku-go (久慈こはく号) bus bound for Morioka (盛岡), alight at Morimae (森前) bus stop. Timetable here.

Access from Ninohe Station: About 60 minutes by bus, followed by a short shuttle bus ride or 30-minute walk. At Ninohe Station (二戸駅) board Swallow-go (スワロー号) bus bound for Kuji (久慈), alight at Morimae (森前) bus stop. Timetable here.

*A free museum shuttle bus is available from the Kuji Kohaku Hakubutsukan and Morimae bus stops. For shuttle bus pickup, call 0194-59-3831; tell them which bus stop you'll arrive at and what time you'll arrive.

15. Project - 10 Echigo Shino

Project - 10 越後 しの

Weekdays through August 31

Central Sendai

Echigo Shino is a Sendai native whose work has recently started becoming popular overseas. This solo exhibition of hers takes place at The 6, a new indie "work lounge"/apartment complex in the artsy neighborhood near Jozenji-dori. Drop by to check out Shino's work, or even just to check out this hip blend of spaces for relaxation and work, independent and communal living.

Hours: 9:00–18:00

Admission: Free

Closed days: Weekends & August 12–14

Details: turn-around.jp

Location: THE6. Map here.

Access: 10-minute walk from Kotodaikoen Station

16. Izunuma Lotus Festival

伊豆沼ハスまつり

Through August 31

Tome, Miyagi

Take a romantic boat ride through thousands of pink flowers during the famous Lotus Festival at lakes Izunuma and Uchinuma, a popular summer destination for flower lovers. Operated by local fishermen, the rides take about thirty minutes and offer a perfect opportunity to take in the spectacular sight of lotuses floating on the lake. The Naganuma Kaijo events have been suspended this year, but the Izunuma and Uchinuma events are still on.

Hours: Lakes are always open. Boat rides available 8:00–16:00

Admission: Lakes are free. Boat rides ¥700 adults, ¥400 children

Details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Details (Japanese): kurihara-kb.net

Location: Lake Izunuma (伊豆沼). Map here.

Access: 5-minute walk from Nitta Station. For boat rides, head to one of the three "kaijo" (会場) docks (see map here).

17. Creepy Animal Exhibition

キモだめし展

Through September 5

Central Sendai

Midsummer is Japan's favorite time of year for giving each other the creeps, tradition holding that the "chill down your spine" you get from being spooked is literal, that it can help cool you off in the heat of summer. At the Kimo Dameshiten, get your dose of the creepy crawlies by watching, well, creepy crawlies like tarantulas, geckos, and giant insects. Knowing those animals are really alive, separated from you by only a thin plate of glass, will either send that chill down your spine or give you a major dose of moe, depending on where you draw the line as to which animals are cute and which aren't.

Hours: 11:00–19:00 (last entry 30 minutes prior to closing)

Admission: ¥800 adults & children ages middle school & up, ¥600 children ages 4 to elementary school, children ages 3 & under free

Details: kimodameshiten.jp

Location: EBeanS (イービーンズ). Map here.

Access: Across the street from Sendai Station

18. A Jewel Box from Europe: Treasures from the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein

ヨーロッパの宝石箱 リヒテンシュタイン侯爵家の至宝展

Through September 6

Central Sendai

We can't do a better job of introducing this exhibition than the Miyagi Museum of Art already has, so allow us to quote them here:

"The Principality of Liechtenstein is the only country in the world named after the family name of the ruling monarch. . . Liechtenstein boasts one of the most extensive private art collections in the world, and the brilliance of this collection is such that it is sometimes compared to a jewel box.

This exhibition showcases about 126 paintings and porcelain from the Liechtenstein Princely Collections, featuring oil paintings centered on the Northern Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo styles created by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens, Jan Brueghel the Elder, and Lukas Cranach the Elder. Also on display are exquisite porcelain pieces made in the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in Vienna which have been strongly influenced by the tastes of some of the most prominent aristocrats in Europe. These elegant western paintings and porcelain pieces afford visitors the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the lives of noble courts in the days of yore."

—The Miyagi Museum of Art

Hours: 9:30–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Closed days: Mondays (Except August 10. The museum will be closed Tuesday August 11 instead.)

Admission: ¥1,500 adults, ¥1,300 college students, ¥750 children ages elementary to high school

Details (English): pref.miyagi.jp/site/museum-en

Location: The Miyagi Museum of Art (宮城県美術館). Map here.

Access: 7-minute walk from International Center Station

19. Giga・Manga: From Edo Giga to Modern Manga

GIGA・MANGA 江戸戯画から近代漫画へ

Through September 6

Tagajo, Miyagi

Any museum exhibition with a name this witty is a winner in our book! Giga (戯画) are satirical caricatures, an art form that originated in the Heian era and that gained mass popularity during the Edo period. Giga was pop culture of the Edo period, like manga is today. This exhibition looks at how these popular graphic arts evolved over time, and explores the influence of giga on modern day manga.

Hours: 9:30–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Closed days: Mondays

Admisson: ¥1,200 adults, ¥1,100 seniors, ¥600 children ages elementary to high school

Exhibition details: thm.pref.miyagi.jp/exhibition

Museum details (English): visitmiyagi.com

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

Access: At Kofuku-Tagajo Station

20. Kesennuma Bay Cruise

気仙沼ベイクルーズ遊覧船

Weekends & holidays through October 31

Kesennuma, Miyagi

Kesennuma Bay Cruises offer not only beautiful views of the bay's nature, but also the pop culture appeal of Pokemon! Last year, Lapras was named a "tourism ambassador" of Miyagi. As part of that promotional campaign, the Kesennuma Bay sightseeing cruise boat has been decked out in a Lapras motif.

Hours: Cruises depart at 10:00, 11:10, 13:20, & 14:30

Fee: ¥1,500 adults and children ages junior high & up, ¥750 children ages elementary school & younger

Details: oshimakisen.com

Location: Kesennuma S-Port Sightseeing Boat Terminal (気仙沼エースポート発着所). Map here.

Access: 6 minutes by bus from Kesennuma Station, followed by a 4-minute walk. At the bus stop in front of Kesennuma Station (気仙沼駅前), board City Loop Line (市内循環) bus, alight at Minami-machi (南町) bus stop. See timetable here.

21. Karakuwa Clean Olle volunteer event

唐桑・クリーンオルレ

August 2 (also 9/6, 11/1, 12/6)

Kesennuma, Miyagi

The Karakuwa Peninsula is home to one of Miyagi's four Olle hiking trails, healthy and accessible leisure destinations even in the age of coronavirus. At this volunteer event, you can come help maintain the trail, keeping it clean and safe for you and other hikers to enjoy. Most of the "clean-up" consists of picking up litter, so all are welcome to come out and help out—no special skills or fitness required!

Hours: 9:00–11:00

Fee: Free

Reservations: None needed

Event details: kesennuma-kanko.jp

Kesennuma-Karakuwa Olle Trail details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Meeting spot: Ogama Hanzou Parking Lot (半造駐車場). Map here.

Access: 25 minutes from Shishiori Karakuwa Station, followed by a short walk. At Shishiori Karakuwa Station (鹿折唐桑駅), board Osaki Line (御崎線) bus bound for Osaki (御崎). Alight at Ogama Hanzo Iriguchi (巨釜半造入口). Timetables here.

22. The Bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki photo exhibition 

「ヒロシマ・ナガサキ 原爆写真展」

August 6–12

Kaminoyama, Yamagata

Photo by Shigeo Hayashi - Unknown source, Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

On August 6, 1945 the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima—an act that would change the course of world history. On the anniversary of this tragic event, several locations across Japan are hosting exhibitions. This one inside Kaminoyama Castle will exhibit historical photographs taken in Hiroshima and Nagasaki around the time of the bombings and shortly thereafter, providing a harrowing glimpse into the events of those times.

Hours: 9:00–16:45

Closed days: None in August

Fee: ¥420 adults, ¥370 high school & college students, ¥50 children ages elementary through junior high

Details: kaminoyama-castle.info

Location: Kaminoyama Castle (上山城). Map here.

Access: 10-minute walk from Kaminoyama Onsen Station

23. Geothermal Dyeing Workshop

日時限定個人向け染色体験

August 8 & 9

Hachimantai, Iwate

The volcanic activity in Hachimantai has made the area popular with tourists for its beautifully rustic onsen, but this geothermal energy can be harnessed in other ways as well. Local artisans use it to dye fabric in psychadelic colors. Pretty groovy, right? Try it for yourself at an on-site workshop.

Time: 14:30 August 8, 9:30 August 9

Fee: ¥2,750

Reservations: Required, can book online.

Details: geocolor.com

Location: Hachimantai Geothermal Dyeing Studio (地熱染色研究所). Map here.

24. Tamasudare Falls Light-Up

玉簾の滝ラオっとアップ

August 8–16

Sakata, Yamagata

Yamagata is home to the greatest number of waterfalls of any prefecture in Japan, and of them the tallest is Tamasudare no Taki. That says something about its size, but what of its beauty? It's also ranked one of Japan's Top 100 Waterfalls, so is certainly a sight to behold. The waterfall can be viewed year-round during the daytime, but is only illuminated at night during special times of year, one of which is the Obon holiday in August.

Hours: Always open (light-up 18:30–21:00)

Admission: Free

Details: sakata-kankou.com

Location: Tamasudare Falls (玉簾の滝). Map here.

25. Hijiori Lantern Festival

肘折の灯

August 8–23

Hijiori Onsen, Yamagata

Paper lanterns featuring intricate designs made by professional artists are hung throughout Hijiori Onsen Village and lit up 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 a summer's eve.

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 48 Liner highway bus. For 48 Liner info, see here.

26. Rail Bike Riding

レールバイク乗車会

August 9 & 23 (about 1x/month AprilNovember)

Kurihara, Miyagi

Cycle the Kurihara Denen railroad! We don't mean on some converted cycling path—we mean you can literally ride the rails! Kurihara Denen Rail Park is a theme park/museum dedicated to the now-defunct Kurihara Denen Railway. The museum is located at the repurposed Wakayanagi Station, a former stop along the Kurihara Denen line. In addition to learning about the railway through exhibits, the museum also offers some unusual hands-on experiences, including this rail biking experience. The experience offers visitors the chance to operate a specially-designed bike-like vehicle attached to the rails for a 900-meter stretch of what was once an operating railroad.

Hours: Rail bike rides start every 30 minutes 10:00–15:30 (except 12:00 & 12:30)

Fee: ¥510 per person

Reservations: Available but not required

Details: kuriharacity.jp

Yearly rail bike ride schedule: kuriharacity.jp

Location: Kurihara Denen Rail Park at the former Wakayanagi Station (旧くりはら田園鉄道公園 旧若柳駅) Map here.

Access: 32-minute walk or 2.5 kilometers by rental cycle from Ishikoshi Station.

27. Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party

スターパーティーin南三陸~ペルセウス座流星群~

August 12

Minamisanriku, Miyagi

Come stargazing on the roof of Minamisanriku Hotel Kanyo, a seaside hotel with stunning open-air onsen baths. The hotel is located on the tranquil and scenic Shizugawa Bay, a Ramsar wetland with little light pollution. The starts will look lovely to the naked eye, but the hotel will also have a telescope set up for closer viewing. This event is open to everyone, not just overnight guests. To see what one of their past Star Parties was like, check out their blog entry here.

This month's Star Party promises to be especially eventful, as it will take place during the Perseid meteor shower. The Perseid meteor shower is a favorite of stargazers, in part because many of the meteors are bright enough to outshine the moonlight and be visible to the human eye.

Mid-August also happens to be peak beach season in Minamisanriku, so you could spend the day at the nearby Sun Ole Sodehama Beach before heading to the Star Party in the evening.

Hours: 20:00–21:30

Admission: Free

Event details: miyagi-kankou.or.jp

Hotel Kanyo details (English): visitmiyagi.com

Location: Minamisanriku Hotel Kanyo (南三陸ホテル観洋). Map here.

Access: 27-minute walk from Rikuzen-Togura Station

28. Sakamoto Kaigan Beach Clean-up

坂本海岸ビーチクリーン

August 16

Minamisanriku, Miyagi

Come celebrate beach season by helping clean one up! This beginner-friendly volunteer event requires no reservations and no special skills, making it easy to pitch in!

Time: 9:30–11:00

Fee: Free

Reservations: None needed

Details: m-kankou.jp

Meeting spot: Umi no Visitor Center (海のビジターセンター). Map here.

29. Hiraizumi Daimonji Okuribi

平泉大文字送り火

August 16

Hiraizumi, Iwate

The Hiraizumi Daimonji festival is very similar the much more famous Daimonji Festival that takes place down in Kyoto. On the night of the 16, large fires are lit on a low mountain near town, forming the kanji 大 (lit. "big"). Though Kyoto's Daimonji Festival was cancelled this year, it seems (for now at least) that the Hiraizumi one is still on.

Also much like Kyoto, Hiraizumi is home to numerous shrines and temples, including World Heritage sites. Between visiting temples and the Daimonji Festival, an easy day-trip to Hiraizumi can be enjoyed well into the evening.

Time: Evening of August 16

Fee: Free

Event details: hiraizumi.or.jp

Hiraizumi details: visitmiyagi.com

Location: The bonfires are on Tabashineyama (束稲山), but they are viewable from pretty much anywhere in Hiraizumi Town (平泉町). Map here.

Access: Near Hiraizumi Station

30. Waiwai Ongakukai Concerts

わいわい音楽会

August 23

Central Sendai

Casual open-air live music performances along Sendai's iconic Jozenji-dori Avenue. A great excuse to head downtown and take it easy for the day.

Hours: 12:00–16:00

Admission: Free

Details: facebook.com/events

Location: The greenbelt along Jozenji-dori Avenue near the Summer Memories statue (定禅寺通 緑地 夏の思い出像 付近). Map here.

Access: 3-minute walk from Kotodaikoen Station

31. Hiraniwa Shorthorn Cattle Bullfighting 

平庭闘牛大会

August 23

Kuji, Iwate

Bullfights in Kuji are held to demonstrate the strength and quality of the locally raised shorthorn cattle. Unlike inhumane Western-style bullfighting where a matador taunts and maims the bulls, Japanese-style bullfighting is more akin to a cow version of sumo wrestling: bulls are sent into the ring to lock horns and push each other around. The match is called whenever the bulls lose energy or the audience starts to lose interest, and the winning bull is whichever has pushed his opponent farther.

Time: 11:00–13:00

Admission: ¥1,200, children ages middle school & younger free

Official website: hiraniwatogyu.com

Location: Hiraniwa Highlands Bullfighting Grounds (平庭高原闘牛場). Map here.

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