The state of emergency declaration for Miyagi has been lifted, and museums and public facilities are beginning to reopen! However, in order to prevent new outbreaks of coronavirus, most events known to draw large crowds have been cancelled or postponed. That makes this month a good time to explore some of the smaller, niche events that tend to get overlooked during times when major festivals are going on.
To the best of our knowledge, at the time of publication all events listed in our June 2020 Event Roundup are 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. Encounter the Beauty of Sendai
Ending date TBD
Sendai City Museum is located at the base of the Sendai Castle site, a physical representation of its connection to the city's samurai past. For its Encounter the Beauty of Sendai exhibition, the museum is opening its vaults and putting some of its most impressive pieces on display, such as artworks and writings of the Date and Fukushima clans.
Hours: 9:00–16:45 (last entry 16:15)
Museum info (English): visitmiyagi.com
Location: Sendai City Museum (仙台市博物館). Map here.
Access by subway: 8-minute walk from South Exit 1 of International Center Station
Access by bus: 20-minute ride from Sendai Station. From Sendai Station West Exit Stop 16, board Loople Sendai (るーぷる仙台) bus. Alight at Stop 5 (Sendai City Museum/Sendai International Center). Timetable here (English).
2. Nanyo Suwa Shrine Peonies
Through June 10
An atmospheric countryside shrine boasting the largest peony cultivation area in Japan! The peony cultivation area alone measures 8,500 square meters, and is home to over 100,000 peonies in 108 varieties. If you're interested in spotting all the different varieties (Peony bingo, anyone?), the shrine's website offers a free, easy-to-use pictoral guide. Visitors are welcome anytime, but you're coming to see the blossoms, based on this year's blooming date the shrine expects the blossoms to be at their best through June 10.
3. Kalmia Matsuri
The only kalmia festival in Japan! Kalmia, known as mountain laurel or calico bush in English, is prized as an ornamental plant. If you want to see it in large numbers, the sprawling Michinoku Ajisai-en is the best place to do so!
Hours: 9:00–17:00 (last entry 16:30)
Admission: ¥800 adults, children ages elementary to junior high ¥200, children below school age free
Location: Michinoku Ajisai-en (みちのくあじさい園). Map here.
Access: About 30 minutes by bus from Ichinoseki Station (一関駅), followed by a 15-minute walk.
From the Bus Stop 7 in front of Ichinoseki Station, board a Geibikei Line (げいび渓線) bus bound for Geibikei (げいび渓) or Surisawa Ekimae (摺沢駅前). Alight at Mizukami (水上). Timetable here.
4. William Morris exhibition
Through June 28
William Morris was an artist whose creativity was deeply influenced by his surroundings. In this exhibition, works produced throughout his life will be displayed alongside scenic photographs of the area where Morris created each, illuminating the connection between artwork and sense of place. Bibliophiles won't want to miss the exhibit showcasing all sixty-six titles published by The Kelmscott Press, a printing company founded by Morris during the last years of his life.
(Note: The poster image's dates no longer match the actual exhibition dates. Because the museum was closed as a coronavirus prevention measure for most of the exhibition's run, the event has been extended through June 28.)
Hours: 9:30–17:00 (last entry 16:30)
Closed days: Mondays (if Monday is a public holiday, the museum will close the following day instead)
Admission: ¥1,300 adults, ¥1,100 college students, ¥650 children ages elementary to high school
Details (English): pref.miyagi.jp
Official exhibition website: khb-tv.co.jp
Location: The Miyagi Museum of Art (宮城県美術館). Map here.
Access: 5-minute walk from International Center Station
5. Sanno Historical Park Iris Garden
Through early July
The Sanno Historical Park Iris Garden was established as a specimen garden, home to historical and modern varieties. Observe how the process of selective breeding over the ages has altered the look of these ornamental flowers. Though the Iris Festival stage performances/food stalls/etc. have been suspended this year, the public is still invited to come enjoy the flowers.
Closed days: None during iris season
Admission: ¥520 adults, ¥260 children ages high school & younger
Location: Sanno HIstorical Park Iris Garden (山王史跡公園あやめ園). Map here.
Access: 70 minutes by bus from Sendai Station, followed by a 5-minute walk. Board bus Ichihasama Line (一迫線) bus bound for Ichihasama Sogo Shisho-mae (一迫総合支所前), alight at Ichihasama Sogo Shisho-mae. Bus info here.
6. Zao Pension Village Open Gardens
Through July 5
"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. Though visitors are invited to explore the gardens any time of year, late spring through early summer is especially recommended, as many flowers are in bloom at this time.
Details (English): opengardenzao.com
Location: Zao Pension Village (蔵王ペンション村). Map here.
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.
7. Old Graphic
Through July 5
This exhibition showcases graphic media of Sendai, from the end of the Edo period to the present day. Get to know the the city's former inhabitants through magazines, posters, postcards and more from periods throughout the city's history. What better way to get to learn about a city's culture than through graphic materials designed for locals' mass consumption?
Hours: 9:00–16:45 (last entry 16:15)
Admission: ¥240 adults, ¥180 high school students, ¥120 children ages elementary to junior high
Closed days: Mondays (except national holidays), the day following a national holiday, the 4th Thursday of every month
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. Spring Valley Zipline-lite Tours
Through July 12
Izumi Ward, Sendai
Spring Valley, best known for its ski resort, offers naturebound thrills during green season too. One such adventure is its zipline course, which boasts seven different zipline runs. The Lite Tour covers three of the tamer runs. The Mountain Course, which opens later in summer, covers the wilder rides.
Hours (weekends & holidays): Tours start at 10:00, 11:00, 13:00 14:00, & 15:00
Hours (weekdays): Tours start at 10:00, 12:00, & 14:00
Language: English OK
Reservations: Required, can book online
Official website: springvalley.co.jp
English details & booking: sendai-experience.com
Location: Spring Valley Izumi Kogen (スプリングバレー泉高原). Map here.
Access (weekends & holidays): 50 minutes by bus from Izumi-Chuo Station (泉中央駅). Board city bus 10 bound for Izumi Kogen Spring Valley (泉高原スプリングバレー). Alight at Izumi Kogen Spring Valley, the final stop.
Access (weekdays): 50 minutes by bus from Izumi-Chuo Station (泉中央駅), followed by a 50-minute walk. Board city bus 10 bound for Izumidake Shizen Fureaikan (泉岳自然ふれあい館) at Izumi-Chuo Station. Alight at Izumidake Shizen Fureaikan, the final stop.
9. Sendai Stone-Age Heritage Meguri
Through July 19
The Tomizawa Site Museum may be Sendai's best-known prehistoric heritage site, but did you know there are others? Where are they? What artifacts have been discovered? This exhibit will answer those questions! In addition to this and the museum's incredible permanent exhibit (the Tomizawa Site itself), the museum also features an ambitious outdoor exhibit: a recreation of an Ice Age forest. For updates about wildlife and flower status in the outdoor exhibition area, follow the museum's official Facebook Page.
Hours: 9:00–14:45 (last entry 16:15)
Admission: ¥460 adults, ¥230 high school students, ¥110 junior high and elementary school students
Languages: English OK
Event details: sendai-c.ed.jp
Museum's official website (English): sendai-c.ed.jp
Location: Sendai City Tomizawa Site Museum (地底の森ミュージアム). Map here.
Access: 5-minute walk from Nagamachiminami Station
10. Genji Firefly & Kajika Frog Path
Kajika frogs are a species native to Japan, threatened in some areas due to habitat loss. But in nature-rich Takahata, the frog still lives in large numbers. The voice of these frogs is a common motif in traditional Japanese poetry. This riverside path is one of the best places to watch and listen to the frogs. Peak kajika frog season is May to July. In late June and early July, this riverside area is also a good place to go firefly watching.
11. Around the World: See Ships of the World Through Model Sailboats
帆船模型から見る世界の船～Around the World～
Through August 31
Location: Miyagi San Juan Bautista Museum (サン・ファン館). Map here.
Access: 25-minute walk from Watanoha Station
12. Entsuin Temple Rose Garden
Early to mid-June
Entsuin is a peaceful temple known for its beautiful gardens. The temple grounds are most popular with sightseers during fall color season, but a more unusual highlight is the temple's rose garden, which comes into bloom every June. Why a garden full of Western flowers at a Buddhist temple? In honor of Masamune Date's Keicho mission to Rome, and the once-taboo Western imagery gracing the interior of the temple mausoleum.
Hours: 8:30–17:00 (April–late October)
13. Higashizawa Rose Park
Early June–early July
The Higashizawa Rose Garden is considered one of Japan's best flower gardens, and has been designated one of Japan's Top 100 Aromascapes. See over 20,000 roses in 700 varieties! Though the peripheral festivities associated with the annual Murayama Rose Festival have been suspended this year, visitors are still invited to enjoy the main event—the roses themselves.
14. Sosho Rose Park
Early June–early July
A rose park specializing in heirloom varieties. Come soak in the romantic atmosphere of this strolling garden, full of flower-covered archways and narrow pathways lined waist-high with rose bushes.
15. Came Back! Delicious Market
An outdoor food and maker's event hosted by Umui. Umui is part of the Jinengo-gama Kiln (次年子窯) complex, a pottery workshop and gallery housed the former Jinengo Elementary School. If the intriguing location alone isn't enough to entice you, come for the delicious fare being served up by some of Yamagata's best casual establishments: Yama Bagel , Cafe Fukudaen, and more!
16. Fork Art Exhibition
Yamagata City, Yamagata
Fork art made by a Japanese magician—can a gallery show get more niche than this?? A must-see for anyone looking for something unique this month.
17. Morning yoga at Tetaru Seaside Park
The yoga class of your dreams—out in the fresh air at a scenic location! This special event is offered by local yoga studio Shanti Matsushima. All proceeds will go towards the Ashinaga Educational Fund tsunami orphan support efforts.
18. Ohayo, Yacho! Early Morning Birdwatching
Taihaku Ward, Sendai
Greet the morning in the company of songbirds! This early-morning tour takes place in a nature park on the outskirts of central Sendai, close enough to be easily accessible, but "wild" enough to have some interesting bird species. A guide will take you on a walk through prime birding territory in the park and introduce you to the species you encounter as you go.
Fee: Free (includes free binocular rental)
Reservations: None needed
Meeting spot: Taihakusan Shizen Kansatsu no Mori (太白山自然観察の森). Map here.
Access by subway: 56-minute walk from Yagiyama Zoological Park Station
Access by bus: From Sendai Station Ekimae Bus Pool stop #7, board bus bound for Yamada Jiyugaoka (山田自由ヶ丘) via Dainenji Nishitaga (大年寺西多賀). Alight at Koei Apartment-mae (公営アパート前) bus stop, then walk about 15-minutes.
19. Nourishment for the Japanese Soul: Itadakimasu film screening
An ode to washoku, the traditional cuisine of Japan. Apparently, it's also the world's first documentary about the subject. The documentary follows the staff and students of Takatori Nursery School, where the students are raised on traditional health-giving washoku. The documentary has received much praise, including being named an Official Selection of the California Independent Film Festival 2018 and an Award Honoree at the 10th Annual Taste Awards.
Hours: Screenings start at 10:30 & 14:00
Tickets: ¥1,000 (Tickets purchased day of are an extra ¥200)
Reservations: None needed, but those who purchase tickets in advance have priority
Official film website (English): itadakimasu-miso.jp/english
Location: Sendai Mediatheque (せんだいメディテーク). Map here.
Access by subway: 6-minute walk from Kotodai-Koen Station
Access by bus: 55 minutes from Sendai Station. At Sendai Station Bus Stop #16, board Sendai Loope Bus. Alight at Loople Bus stop #14 Sendai Mediatheque. Loople Bus info and timetables here (English).
20. Fava Bean Hanbaikai
Fava beans are a little-known local product of Murata and a coveted item for those of us from abroad who grew up on them. With their harvest season so short, the surest opportunity to purchase fresh ones at bargain prices is at this small festival. The main attraction is the all-you-can-stuff fava bean sale: Purchase a bag for ¥500, then stuff it full of as many fava pods as you can. No matter how many you manage to stuff in your bag, the price is still ¥500! In addition to the limited-time festivities, the restaurant at the Michi no Eki hosting the event serves fava bean udon year-round as a signature dish.
Fee: Admission free, all-you-can-stuff fava bean bags ¥500
Location: Michi no Eki Murata Local Products Exchange Center (道の駅「村田」物産交流センター). Map here.
Access: 40 minutes by highway bus from Sendai Station, followed by an 8-minute walk. From Sendai Station Bus Stop 34, board bus bound for Murata-machi・Zao-machi・Togatta (村田町・蔵王町・遠刈田). Alight at Murata-machi Yakuba (村田町役場) or Satellite Miyagi (サテライト宮城) bus stop. Timetables here.
21. Minamikata Hanashobu Irises
Mid- to late June
Outside of Japan, hanashobu is known simply as "Japanese iris". This variety of iris is admired for the way its sword-shaped leaves point sharply upwards. Perhaps because of that, the hanashobu is seen as symbolizing the warrior spirit. The Minamikata Hanashobu no Sato Park has a spacious iris garden 50,000 square-meters in area, where you can enjoy a panoramic view of thousands of these warrior flowers.
Location: Minamikata Hanashobu no Sato Park (みなみかた花菖蒲の郷公園). Map here.
22. Fireflies at Onogawa Onsen
Mid-June to mid-July
A firefly habitat in the charming Onogawa Onsen village. Coming here to see the fireflies is a perfect excuse to spend the night at one of the village's inns. Sometimes, the fireflies even grace the open-air baths closest to the firefly habitat, though they can be hard to see due to the bath's lights. Not a fan of insect visitors, even very pretty ones, while you bathe? Rest assured the other baths in town are all firefly free.
Hours: Peak firefly viewing is 20:00–21:00
Location: Onogawamachi Firefly Park (小野川町ほたる公園). Map here.
Access: About 25 minutes by bus from Yonezawa Station, followed by a short walk. At the bus stop in front of Yonezawa Station (米沢駅前), board bus bound for Onogawa Onsen (小野川温泉). Alight at the Onogawa Onsen (小野川温泉) or Chushajo-mae (駐車場前) bus stop. Timetables here. Note that the buses don't run very late, so if you're coming by bus to see the fireflies you'll need to spend the night in Onogawa Onsen.
Access to Yonezawa Station from Sendai Station: Though you can go by train, highway bus is more direct. By highway bus, the ride takes 126 minutes. Timetable here.
23. Kamikawana Firefly Appreciation Nights
The glow of fireflies accompanied by live music—what a magical combination! In addition to the firefly viewing, on the night of the 20 there will also be live musical performances.
24. Sendai Moxa & Onsen Retreat
Akiu area, Sendai
A hippie-style spa getaway in the Akiu area! At this event, you'll learn how to do DIY moxibustion and have a chance to try it under the supervision of an experienced practitioner. Akiu-Canada is run by a Canadian expat, so there's no language barrier to worry about.
25. Waiwai Concert
Location: Jozenji-Dori Avenue (定禅寺通). Map here.
Access by subway: A short walk from Kotodaikoen Station or Omachi Nishi-koen Station (Sendai Subway Nanboku Line)
Access by bus: By Sendai Loople Bus: The Jozenji-dori Ave./Sendai City Hall & Sendai Mediatheque bus stops are both located on Jozenji-dori Avenue. Details & timetables here (English).
26. Иваново Дедтство film screening
27. Rail Bike Riding
June 28 (& about 1x/month April–November)
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: Offered but not required
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.
28. Fireflies at Masubuchi
Late June–early July
A 1.5-kilometer stretch of river home to one of the most impressive firefly habitats in Japan. So impressive, in fact, that the area has been designated a National Natural Monument! Masubuchi is known for its Genji fireflies, a large firefly species found only in Japan.
Hours: Always open, but come in the evening for best firefly viewing
Closed days: None
Firefly status: miyagi-yonekawa.com/news
Location: Along the Masubuchi River (鱒渕川) between the Genji Firefly Koryukan (源氏ボタル交流館) to Masubuichi Kani Post Office (鱒渕簡易郵便局). Map here.
29. Ubugasawa River Firefly Park
Late June–early July
A good place to see Genji fireflies in large numbers, and one of the few habitats easily accessible by public transportation. Genji fireflies are a species of large firefly, found only in Japan. At the peak of the 2019 firefly season, the Ubugasawa population was around 4,000 strong.
30. Day lilies at Oguninuma Marsh
Late June–early July
Designated a National Natural Monument, Oguninuma is a wetland famous for the yellow alpine lilies that carpet the marsh in summer. An elevated walking path allows visitors to stroll the wetland without damaging the plantlife. For panoramic views of the marsh, hike the 5-kilometer (round trip) trail to the top of Mount Oguni (details here).
Hours: Always open
Location: Oguninuma (雄国沼). Map here.
Access: Most years during day lily season, shuttle buses are available from from Kitakata Station (喜多方駅). Whether or not the shuttle buses will run this year has yet to be announced. For updates, and info on last year's bus service, see here.
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