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Event Roundup: March 2020

Lucky for us, some events are immune to coronavirus fears

· Events,Spring

1. The Beauty of Ainu Handiwork

アイヌの美しき手仕事

Through March 15

Central Sendai

Ainu culture is expressed in their handicrafts, items used in everyday life, yet which nonetheless exhibit stunning craftsmanship and beauty. This aspect of Ainu culture fascinated Yanagi Soetsu, the founder of Japan's Mingei Movement. At this special exhibition, around 250 items of Ainu craft, carefully selected by Yanagi Soetsu and Serizawa Keisuke, will be displayed.

Hours: 9:30–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Closed days: Mondays & February 25

Admission: ¥1,000 adults, ¥800 university students, ¥500 children ages elementary to high school

Details (English): pref.miyagi.jp

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

Access: 5-minute walk from International Center Station

2. Snowshoeing with Kotori House

ことりはうすの雪上トレッキング

March 1, 8, 15

Zao-machi, Miyagi

Enjoy a guided snowshoe tour of the winter landscape of the Mount Zao area, including winter wildlife observation. No reservations necessary, and gear rental is included!

Time: 10:00–12:00 (please arrive by 9:50)

Fee: ¥300

Not necessary

Details: mifi.main.jp

Location: Kotori House (ことりはうす). Map here.

3. Snowland in Heilsam Kurikoma

スノーランド イン ハイルザーム栗駒

Through March 15

Kurihara, Miyagi

A snow-play event at a large onsen facility on the lower slopes of Mount Kurikoma. Offers casual, fun snow activities, including snowcat rides, snowmobile rental, and sledding. Feel free to come empty handed—sleds and other snow play gear are available for rental on-site. After playing in the snow, warm up with a warm onsen bath or a swim in the heated pool inside.

Hours: 10:00–15:00

Fees: free admission & snowcat rides, snowmobile rental ¥1,000 per 10 minutes

Reservation: Not necessary

Details: eeonsen.com

Location: Heilsam Kurikoma (くりこま高原温泉郷ハイルザーム栗駒). Map here.

Access: Free shuttle bus on Sundays from Kurihara City Koma Sougou Shisho (栗原市栗駒総合支所).

4. N.E. blood 21an Ozaki Shinpey Exhibition

N.E. blood 21毛崎森平展

Through March 15

Kesennuma, Miyagi

An edgy contemporary art exhibit by Sendai-based artist Ozaki Shinpey. Don't let the out-of-the-way location fool you into thinking this is some B-grade exhibition—the Rias Ark Museum of Art is an architectural masterpiece designed by the Ishiyama Osamu Lab, a destination that draws design fans from far and wide. In addition to art, the museum also features substantial, English-friendly exhibits about the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, making March a fitting time of year to visit.

Hours: 9:30–17:00

Closed days: Mondays, Tuesdays, & the day following national holidays (if that day falls on a weekend, it will remain open)

Admission: ¥500 adults & college students, ¥400 community college & trade school students, ¥300 high school students, ¥150 children ages elementary to junior high

Ozaki Shinpey official website (English): shinpeywarhol.wixsite.com

Exhibition details: rias-ark.sakura.ne.jp

Location: Rias Ark Museum of Art (リアス・アーク美術館). Map here.

Access: About 5 kilometers from Kesennuma Station by taxi or rental cycle.

5. Hikoro no Sato Silk Flower Festival

ひころの里シルクフラワーフェスタ

Through March 15

Minamisanriku, Miyagi

The Iriya area of Minamisanriku was the birthplace of sericulture in the Sendai Domain. In honor of that, Hikoro no Sato in Minamisanriku is home to a slik museum. At this special event here, bright and cheerful silk flowers handmade from natural silk cocoons will be displayed. Visitors who are especially fond of the silk-cocoon flowers can purchase some or learn to make their own at a workshop here (reservations required for workshops).

Hours: 9:30–15:00

Admission: Free

Details: miyagi-kankou.or.jp

Location: Hikoro no Sato (ひころの里). Map here.

Access: About 5 kilometers from Shizugawa Station. Rental cycles are available at the Sun Sun Shoten-gai Information Center (南三陸さんさん商店街内インフォメーションセンター). Rental of a regular bicycle costs ¥500 for 3 hours. But since the road to Hikoro no Sato goes uphill, renting an electric-assist bicycle (¥700 yen for 3 hours) will make the ride easier. Reservations are required for cycle rental; they can be made online here.

6. Castle Town Yamagata Hina Matsuri

城下町やまがた雛まつり

Through March 15

Yamagata City , Yamagata

Hina Matsuri is a traditional celebration involving customs traditionally associated with little girls and femininity. Famous crafts associated with the festival are the tsurushibina, mobiles of handmade fabric ornaments and dolls hung on red cord; and hina ningyo, ornate dolls representing the emperor, empress, and their court, displayed on steps covered in red carpet.

View beautiful renditions of these traditional crafts with a stroll through downtown Yamagata, where seven shops have set up elaborate displays, and ten others are offering interactive Hina Matsuri-related events, like photo-op spots and crafting workshops.

Hours: Varies by location

Admission: Varies by location, but most are free

Closed days: Varies by location, but at least several are open on any given day.

Details: visityamagata.jp

Location: Various locations across downtown Yamagata. Map here.

Access: All locations are a short walk from Yamagata Station 

7. Kokeshibina Matsuri

こけしびなまつり

Through March 22

Togatta Onsen, Miyagi

Hina Matsuri is a traditional celebration involving customs traditionally associated with little girls and femininity. Famous crafts associated with the festival are the tsurushibina, mobiles of handmade fabric ornaments and dolls hung on red cord; and hina ningyo, ornate dolls representing the emperor, empress, and their court, displayed on steps covered in red carpet.

The Zao Kokeshi Museum is offering their own spin on the tradition, with displays of hina ningyo-styled kokeshi. The event is also a good chance to check out the rest of the museum's 5,500-strong kokeshi collection—the largest in Japan!

Hours: 9:00–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Admission: ¥300 per person ages high school and older, ¥150 children ages junior high to elementary school, children younger than elementary school free

Closed days: None during event

Details: kokeshizao.com

Location: Zao Kokeshi Museum (みやぎ蔵王こけし館). Map here.

Access: 70 minutes from Sendai Station by highway bus, followed by a 10-minute walk. Board bus bound for Murata・Zao・Togatta (村田・蔵王・遠刈田) at Sendai Station Bus Stop 33. Alight at the Togatta Onsen (遠刈田温泉) bus stop. Timetable here.

8. Rediscover the Air Raid Shelters

がけっぷちの防空壕

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through March 29

Central Sendai

The Sendai area was often the target air raids during World War II. As a result, air raid shelters were carved into the rock face in many places. After the war, as the area recovered and people's lives returned to normal, these air raid shelters were forgotten or erased. And yet, some remain to this day. This exhibition of photographs by Hiroko Niizuma, a member of the Sendai Air Raid Research Group, reveals what these air raid shelters look like, inside and out.

Hours: 13:00–20:00

Admission: Free

Details: artnode.smt.jp

Location: Tohoku Research-Based Art Center (東北リサーチとアートセンター). Map here.

Access: Across the street from Omachi Nishi-Koen Station

9. Tsutsumiyaki & Tsutsumi Ningyo Exhibition

特別展「堤焼と堤人形」

Through April 12

Central Sendai

Tsutsumi ningyo dolls originated in Tsutsumimachi, Sendai during the Edo period. By the 1800s, the dolls had attained great popularity. Today, they are counted among Japan's greatest clay dolls, along with Fushimi ningyo from Kyoto, Hanamaki ningyo from Iwate, and Miharu ningyo from Fukushima.

Tsutsumiyaki pottery also originated in tsutsumimachi during the Edo period. At first, tsutsumiyaki was produced as tea ceremony items for feudal lords of the Date clan. Later, the Tsutsumi potters also began making everyday items like pots and plates. To this day, Tsutsumiyaki is made with local clay. The simplicity characteristic of the Tsutsumiyaki glaze is said to highlight the texture and high quality of the area's clay.

 

At this exhibition, see historical and notable examples of both Tsutsumi ningyo and Tsutsumiyaki.

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

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

10. Gokujo! Sanriku Wakame Harvesting Experience

極上!三陸ワカメ刈り体験

Sundays through April 12

Minamisanriku, Miyagi

Wakame is one of Japan's most popular seaweeds. You'll often find tender green wakame "leaves" in miso soup. Take a boat ride out to a wakame farm in the beautiful Shizugawa Bay, where you can try harvesting your own!

Time: 10:00–12:00

Fee: ¥3,850 per person

Reservations: Required

Details: minatabi.good-travel.info

Location: Minamisanriku Konpira Maru (南三陸 金比羅丸). Map here.

11. Yama no Gochiso Matsuri

やまのごっつおまつり

March 1 & 22, April 12

Tsuruoka, Yamagata

*NOTE: Due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus, this event has been suspended for April. For more information and updates, please see the Sanchoku Asahi・Goo (産直あさひ・グー) Facebook Page.*

Take advantage of the best early spring has to offer with a sansai (wild mountain vegetable) buffet! On these dates, farmer's market Sanchoku Asahi Gu~ will be selling homestyle sansai dishes and old-fashioned handmade sweets for just ¥100 per plate.

Hours: 10:30–14:00

Fee: Free entry, food ¥100 per plate

Reservations: Not necessary

Details: mokkedano.net

Location: farmer's market Sanchoku Asahi Gu~ (鶴岡市役所 朝日庁舎産直あさひ・グ ー). Map here.

12. Oyster Kura Koo

牡蠣蔵 Koo

Weekends through mid-April

Ishinomaki, Miyagi

An oyster shack selling oysters farmed using Australian methods. You can purchase oysters to shell and grill on-site, or take them home. If you want to leave the cooking to the professionals, they also sell grilled oysters by the kilo. Koo also sells a variety of "premium oyster" called Urasuke, ideal for eating raw.

Hours: 12:00–15:00

Reservations: Not necessary

Official website: koo-oyster-supplier.business.site

Location: Oyster Kura Koo (牡蠣蔵 Koo). Map here.

Access: 2-minute walk from Sawada Station

13. Connection with Tohoku

東北ゆかりの画家&作品展

Through April 19

Central Sendai

An exhibition of works related to Tohoku or by Tohoku-based artists. Think pastoral landscapes, nihonga paintings, and more.

Hours: 10:00–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

Closed days: Every day through March 19, then Tuesdays* after that.

*If Tuesday is a national holiday, it will be open Tuesday and closed the following day.

Admission: ¥1,200 adults, ¥500 high school students, ¥300 children ages middle and elementary school

Details: shimakawa-museum.jp

Location: Shimakawa Art Museum (島川美術館). Map here.

Access: 3-minute walk from Hirosedori Station

14. Ishida Tomoko Installation Exhibition

石だ智子展

Through April 19

Koriyama, Fukushima

Tomoko Ishida is a Fukushima-based koyori artist. Koyori is a type of string made from traditional washi paper. Ishida ties, weaves, and twists the koyori into large 3-dimensional shapes, creating an interplay of thread, light, shadow, and negative space.

Hours: 9:30–17:00 (last entry 16:30)

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

Admission: ¥500 adults, ¥300 high school students and seniors ages 65+, children ages middle school & younger free

Details: city.koriyama.lg.jp

Location: Koriyama Art Museum (郡山市立美術館). Map here.

Access: 10 minutes by bus from Koriyama Station, followed by a 2-minute walk. From Koriyama Station Bus Stop 5 (5番乗り場), board bus bound for Bijutsukan via Tobu New Town (美術館経由東部ニュータウン). Alight at Koriyama Bijutsukan (郡山美術館) bus stop. Details and timetables here.

15. Antique kokeshi exhibition 

古作こけし名品展

Through May 17

Central Sendai

An exhibition of antique kokeshi dolls, focusing on prewar kokeshi of the Bunsei and Taisho eras. The exhibit is designed to express to viewers how the purpose and design of kokeshi changed over time: from simple children's toys to artworks valued by adult collectors.

Hours: 10:00–17:00

Closed days: Mondays (open if Monday is a national holiday)

Admission: ¥240 adults, seniors 65+ free, children ages high school & younger free

Details: kameimuseum.or.jp

Location: Museum of Kamei Collection (カメイ美術館). Map here.

Access: 8-minute walk from Sendai Station

16. Oyster Shack Kaisendo

かき小屋 海鮮堂

Through late May

Higashimatsushima, Miyagi

Kaisendo is a popular oyster shack in the northern Matsushima Bay area. The grilled oysters are recommended, especially if you score a seat at one of their patio tables with built-in grill.

Hours: 11:00–15:00

Closed days: none during oyster season

Reservation: not necessary

Details: see page 4 of Miyagi Event Joy 2020 February March (みやぎEvent Joy 2020 2月 3月)

Location: Oyster Shack Kaisendo (かき小屋海鮮堂). Map here.

Access: 16-minute walk from Nobiru Station

17. Strawberry Picking at Ichigo World

イチゴワールドでいちご狩り

Through May 31

Watari, Miyagi

Ichigo World is strawberry farm famous for its luxury strawberries, selling for as much as ¥1,000 apiece! The farm also offers all-you-can-eat strawberry picking experiences of their less-expensive berries, complete with chocolate for dipping them in.

Hours: 10:00–16:00 (last entry 15:00)

Closed days: Thursdays & Fridays

Fee: Varies by date. Fees through May 5 are ¥2,000 per person ages 10 & older, ¥1,000 children ages 4-9, children 3 & under free.

Reservation: Highly recommended, as they often cannot accommodate visitors who come without reservations

Official website: ichigo-world.jp

Location: Ichigo World (イチゴワールド). Map here.

Access: 9-minute walk from Yamashita Station

18. Strawberry picking at Igunal Strawberry Farm

イグナルファームでいちご狩り

Through May 31

Higashimatsushima, Miyagi

A strawberry farm in the the northern part of the Matsushima Bay area, offering strawberry-picking experiences to the public, no reservations required!

Hours: 10:00–14:00 (last entry 13:00)

Fee: Varies by date. March 1–May 10 fees are ¥1,800 adults, ¥900 children ages 4–9, children 3 & under free.

Reservations: None needed for weekends & holidays. Required only for weekday visits.

Details: igunalfarm.com

Location: Igunal Strawberry Farm (イグナルファームいちご園) Map here.

Access: 20-minute walk from Rikuzen-Akai Station

19. Strawberry picking at Sone Kanko Strawberry Farm

そね観光いちご園でいちご狩り

Through late May

Kurihara, Miyagi

Enjoy a 30-minute all-you-can-eat strawberry picking of three varieties: Tochiotome, Moikko, and Beni-hoppe.

Hours: 10:00–15:00

Fee: ¥1,600 ages middle school through adult, ¥800 elementary school, ¥400 children ages 3 to elementary school

Reservations: None needed for weekends & holidays. Required only for weekday visits.

Details: See Page 2 of Miyagi Event Joy 2020 February March (みやぎEvent Joy 2020 2月 3月)

Farm's official website: www13.plala.or.jp

Location: Sone Kanko Strawberry Farm (そね観光いちご園). Map here.

Access: 12-minute walk from Kurikoma-Kogen Station

20. 3.11 Hope Project

3.11 希望プロジェクト

March 11

Central Sendai

Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami occurred on March 11, 2011, killing over 15,000 and displacing over 150,000. In memorial of those whose lives were lost, there will be a memorial service held in downtown Sendai. A traditional memorial flower arrangement will be displayed, where visitors can come offer thoughts and prayers. At 2:46 p.m. the time that the earthquake struck, the sound of a bell will mark the start of a moment of silence. Even if you can't make it to downtown Sendai for the memorial, when the clock strikes 2:46 p.m., wherever you are, please take a moment of silence to remember this tragedy.

Hours: 12:00–18:00

Admission: Free

Details: isendai.wordpress.com

Location: Ichibancho Shotengai (一番町商店街). Map here.

Access: 3-minute walk from Hirosedori Station

21. Zao Onsen Dairotemburo special winter opening

蔵王温泉大露天風呂冬季特別開放

March 2022

Zao Onsen, Yamagata

The Zao Onsen Dairotemburo is a gorgeously rustic riverside bath on the Yamagata side of Mount Zao. It is usually closed in winter, but this year they're opening it for a few days for this special event. Enjoy being surrounded by snowy wilderness while soaking in a natural hot spring.

Hours: 12:00–15:00

Admission: ¥200

Details: zao-spa.or.jp

Location: Zao Onsen Dairotemburo (蔵王温泉大露天風呂). Map here.

Access from Yamagata Station: About 35 minutes by bus, followed by a 17-minute walk. From Yamagata Station (山形駅), board bus bound for Zao Onsen (蔵王温泉). Alight at Zao Onsen Bus Terminal (蔵王温泉バスターミナル). Timetables here.

Access from Sendai Station: About 90 minutes by bus, followed by a 17-minute walk. Reservations required. Details here.

22. Plum blossom festival Ume wo Mirukai

梅を観る会

March 2029

Wakabayashi Ward, Sendai

Ume blossoms are another popular spring flower of Japan. They look similar to cherry blossoms, but bloom earlier and have a different, but equally wonderful, fragrance. One good place to enjoy them is Midori no Mori in eastern Sendai, where about 125 ume trees, in 60 varieties, will be in bloom. In addition to the blossoms, activities and market stalls have been planned. Some of the activities have been cancelled due to coronavirus fears, but for now it looks like the plant and flowerpot market is still on.

Hours: 9:00–17:00 

Admission: Free

Details: sendai-nogyo-engei-center.jp

Location: Sendai Nogyo Engei Center Midori no Mori (せんだい農業園芸センターみどりの杜). Map here.

Access: 10 minutes by bus or a 30-minute walk from Arai Station. From Arai Station, board a bus bound for Former Arahama Elementary School (旧荒浜小学校) via Nogyo Engei Center (農業園芸センター). Alight at Nogyo Engei Center bus stop. Timetable here.

23. Okura Yuki Monogatari

おおくら雪ものがたり

March 21

Hijiori Onsen, Yamagata

An end-of-winter festival in Okura, registered as one of The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan. Out of concerns regarding the spread of coronavirus, the festivities this year will be reduced from the usual. But the show will go on! The Snow Corridor of Illusions and fireworks will take place as usual. In addition there's a stamp rally visitors can participate in before the evening festivities. Collect three stamps from shops or food and drink spots around town that afternoon, and collect a prize that night at the festival.

Hours: 18:15–19:30 (baths at Ideyu-kan are open until 20:30).

Admission: Free

Details: hijiorionsen.jp

Location: In front of Hijiori Onsen Ideyu-kan (肘折いでゆ館). Map here.

Access: 55 minutes by bus from Shinjo Station, followed by a 5-minute walk. At Shinjo Station (新庄駅), board bus bound for Hijiori Onsen (肘折温泉). Alight at Hijiori Onsen-Gai (肘折温泉街) bus stop. Timetable here.

24. Ume blossoms & Tenjinsama de Minna no Ichi Market

天神様でみんなの市

March 25 (market), Marchearly April (ume blossoms)

Central Sendai

Tenjinsama de Minna no Ichi is a small monthly market held at Tsutsujigaoka Tenmangu Shrine (榴岡天満宮), located across the street from Tsutsujigaoka Park. This month is a particularly good time to visit, as the ume trees planted on the shrine grounds are in bloom, quite photogenic against the red backdrop of the shrine buildings and torii. The sellers at the market vary by month; this time you can look forward to coffee from Kengo Cafe, handmade blueberry jam and frozen blueberries from Blueberry Shop Ishikawa, handmade bamboo craft, and more!

Hours: 10:00–15:00 (market), shrine open 24/7

Admission: Free

Official Facebook page: facebook.com/tenjinichi

Location: Tsutsujigaoka Tenmangu (榴岡天満宮). Map here.

Access: 3-minute walk from Tsutsujigaoka Station

25. Cherry blossoms & spring flowers at Hanamiyama Park

花見山公園

March 28April 19

Fukushima City, Fukushima

At last, what we've all been waiting for—hanami season! Hanamiyama (花見山公園), a "mountain of flowers" in both name and actuality, is one of the best places in all of Japan to see cherry blossoms. The area is so large you can spend all day walking the various trails, finding small-yet-beautiful spring flowers blooming along the path. The paths wind by numerous cherry blossom trees, but also offer panoramic views of hillsides covered in cherry blossoms, with snowy Mount Azuma in the background.

Hours: 7:00–17:00

Admission: Free

Details: f-kankou.jp 

Location: Hanamiyama Park (花見山公園). Map here.

Access: 15 minutes by shuttle bus from Fukushima Station. For more information, see Details link.

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