Morioka is a major train station on the Tohoku Shinkansen line.
The most frequent Shinkansen services from Tokyo to Morioka are the all reserved Komachi (こまち) and Hayate (はやて), which normally run coupled together as a single train. The ride takes 2 1/2 hours at a cost of ¥13,840 each way, so you may want to consider purchasing a JR East Rail Pass or Japan Rail Pass beforehand.
Faster Hayabusa (はやぶさ) services make two daily round-trips between Morioka and both Tokyo and Aomori, complementing the other services. Fares for the Hayabusa are slightly higher (¥14,340 from Tokyo).
The Japan Rail Pass and JR East Rail Pass are valid for travel on the Hayate, Komachi and Hayabusa. On the other hand, rail passes will only cover the basic fare if you are willing to try out the premium first class seating on the Hayabusa called "GranClass". To use "GranClass" the limited express and GranClass fare has to be paid (¥14,640 from Tokyo). Without a rail pass, "GranClass" costs ¥22,830 between Tokyo and Morioka.
An overnight bus service, the Rakuchin, runs twice nightly from Tokyo Station to Morioka (about 7 1/2 hours, ¥7,850 one way). Other companies offer cheaper, less comfortable rides for as little as ¥5,000.
Morioka is a small enough city to walk around. There are some useful transport methods.
Iwateken Kotsu bus operates Den-Den-Mushi Bus (with picture of snails painted on each vehicle) which encircles the city central area starting from Morioka main station via castle park and Bus Center. The cost is ¥100 per ride, and run every 10 min both clockwise and anti-clockwise during daytime.
- Morioka Castle (盛岡城), ☎ +81 19-639-9057. Morioka Castle was built in the 16th century by Nanbu Nobunao, the first daimyo of the area. The castle was used as a residence during its heyday until it was dismantled during the Meiji Period. The area was converted into a park in 1906 and is known today as a popular place to see cherry blossoms in the spring. Free.
- Morioka Museum of Great Predecessors (盛岡市先人記念館), ☎ +81 19-659-3338. A museum with rotating exhibits about people who have been influential in Morioka. ¥300.
- Morioka City Science Center (盛岡市子ども科学館), ☎ +81 19-634-1171. A children's museum with a educational science exhibits and a planetarium. Museum entrance is ¥200, Planetarium is ¥300..
- Oyakuen Garden (御薬園). The garden was originally constructed in the early Edo Period as an herb garden and was later converted into a garden for the local lord. It became a villa in 1908 until the buildings around the garden were turned into a museum. Today the garden is a popular spot to see autumn foliage.
- Takuboku Shinkon House (啄木新婚の家). The Takuboku Shinkon House is the former residence of Takuboku Ishikawa, a famous local poet. He lived here as a newlywed with his wife albeit only for less than 3 weeks. Free.
- Iwate Prefectural Art Museum (岩手県立美術館). 9:30AM-6PM.
- HARA-KEI Memorial Museum (原敬記念館), ☎ +81 19－636-1192. 9AM-5PM. The former home of Takashi Hara which has been converted into a museum. Takashi Hara was a Morioka native who served as Prime Minister of Japan from 1918 to 1921. He is also known for being Japan's first Christian Prime Minister. The building contains documents and personal possessions. ¥200.
- Fukazawa Kōko Nonoha Art Museum (深沢紅子野の花美術館, fukuzawa kōko nonoha no bijutsukan), ☎ +81 19-625-6541. 10AM-6PM. A Morioka native, Fukazawa was a 20th century painter of European-style art. ¥500.
- Ishikawa Takuboku Memorial Museum (石川啄木記念館, ishikawa takuboku kinenkan). A famous tanka poet who was born here in the Tamayama district. The museum has information and displays about him and his poetry. ¥300.
- Iwate University Museum and Botanical Garden (岩手大学ミュージアム, iwate daigaku myūjiamu), ☎ +81 19-621-6082. 10AM-3PM. A museum established by the university with a nice botanical garden outside.
- Morioka Zoo (盛岡市動物公園, morioka-shi dōbutsuen). The Morioka Zoo a great place to check out the animals in a peaceful surrounding. ¥500.
- Morioka City Ice Arena (盛岡市アイスアリーナ, morioka-shi aisu arīna), ☎ +81 19-658-1212. An ice skating rink. You can come to watch hockey games and figure skating events. Check the website for event dates. Until 2015, it was the public skating rink of the city.
- Morioka skating rink (盛岡市アイスリンク, morioka-shi aisurinku). The public skating rink of the city, opened in 2015.
Festivals and events
Morioka has a number of popular festivals.
- Chagu Chagu Umakko (チャグチャグ馬コ). 2nd Saturday of June. A parade of 100 colorfully decorated horses.
- Sansa Odori (盛岡さんさ踊り). August 1-4. The much anticipated summer taiko (Japanese drum festival. Approximately 10,000 participating taiko players, flute players, and dancers parade down the main street, making this the largest taiko festival in the world and listed in the Guinness book of records, Odori. After the performance is finished, viewers can join in and dance in the street with the performers as a part of "Wa Daiko". A unique vibe, and absolutely free!
- Funekko Nagashi (舟っこ流し). August 16th.
- Hachiman Shrine Festival. September 14-16.
- Nambu Sembei (南部煎餅). Morioka's traditional wheat crackers.
- Nambu Ironware (南部鉄器, nanbu tekki).
- Chagu Chagu Umakko. Kids' toy horse.
- Morioka Reimen (盛岡冷麺). Spicy cold noodles severd with half a boiled egg, kim-chi and slide of either apple, watermelon or both.
- Wankosoba (わんこそば). Small servings of soba, served "all you can eat".
- Morioka Jajamen (盛岡じゃじゃ麺). Chinese Style noodles with miso.
Morioka is a small city, but it offers a number of good drinking options. The water in the area is clean and pure so there are a number of sake breweries. Japanese style 'Izakaya' bars are everywhere, and there are also some German style beer breweries which offer a variety of brews.
- Ootaru, Oodori (15 minutes walk from the station). Japanese-style eatery with Asahi on tap and ¥1,500 2.5hr nomihodai (all you can drink) deals. Try the Pizza.
As with most cities in Japan, karaoke is a good drinking option, especially if you have a large group. Most places are ¥1,000 an hour, including drinks. A good place is right off Odori on the forth floor across the street from Ootaru.
'FACES' is a western-style and western-owned bar and club near the movie theaters on Eigakan Dori (movie theater street). Great place to meet other English speakers!
Budget travellers of the male variety will likely quickly have their attention drawn to a heavily advertised capsule hotel and sauna existing directly opposite the train station. The price can be extremely cheap, but be warned however that capsule patrons can expect a rapidly upward sliding price scale on repeat use of the sauna facilities, and you may well wish to use them a second time in the morning because the air conditioning intake for the sleeping capsules lies in the smoker's lounge.
An alternative lies in a relaxation cafe along the main street on the left hand side, 2F, about a 1km from the station. Name begins with a Z~. Essentially this is a manga/internet cafe where the owner has thrown away all pretense of people reading manga and focussed on the essentials, napping, relaxing, sleeping, showering (small surcharge) and maybe checking the internet. Warm Balinese themed decor, seemed brand new as of summer 2009.
- Toyoko Inn Morioka-eki Minami, Overlooking the river (3 minutes east of Morioka Station). A particularly nice Toyoko Inn. Opened in 2009 the odd numbered rooms overlook the river and from a high floor you get a nice sunrise. ¥5,600; winter discounts available.
|Routes through Morioka|
|Shin-Aomori ← Ninohe ← Iwate-Numakunai ←||N S||→ Shin-Hamamaki → Sendai|
|Akita ← Kakunodate ← Tazawa-ko ← Shizukuishi ←||N S||→ END → connects to Tōhoku line|
|Aomori ← Hachinohe ←||N S||→ Hanamaki → Sendai|
|Aomori ← Matsuo-Hachimantai ←||N S||→ Hanamaki → Sendai|