Kamaishi

Why visit Kamaishi

Located on the southern coast of Iwate Prefecture in Northern Honshu, visitors can experience life by the ocean and mountains in this city along the rugged Sanriku Coast. With a sparse population of 33,000 people, it is a unique place full of energy. It is the birthplace of the modern iron industry with an abundance of seafood and was once home to one of Japan’s top rugby teams - Nippon Steel Kamaishi.

Years has passed since the city suffered damage from the tsunami caused by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Now the city is facing a time of change and taking its step to launch its Sustainable Tourism.

Culture & Local Life

Kamaishi is performing preservation of intangible cultural assets targeting 14 designated traditional performing art groups in the prefecture and city. Preserving the vibrancy of almost 50 local performing art groups is an ongoing tradition to the point of Kamaishi being called “The place where all of Sanriku's coast local performing art groups meet at once.” This is not for the purpose of tourism, it's a place where with the changing seasons, festivals and events are performed by traditional groups as authentically as possible.

In Kamaishi City, local residents can visit all nature area and culturally important places. The land managers are agreed on to priorities local rights to natural and cultural sites.

Sustainability

Kamaishi is a top destination for the usage of renewable energies and the reduction of solid waste. Regarding renewable energy, for example, a subsidy system is set for expenses to introduce new energy such as solar power generation apparatus and combustion equipment using biomass fuel to dwelling houses.

In regard to the commitment to minimize the environmental impacts of transport, bus routes are present in the destination, aiming to the reduction of useless driving and exhaust gas. Furthermore, Kamaishi City was recognized as a sharing city by Sharing Economy Association, Japan and demonstration tests for car sharing and ride sharing are being held.

Getting there

Kamaishi is about five hours away from Tokyo by train. From Tokyo Station, the Tohoku Shinkansen line can take you to Shin-Hanamaki Station, where you need to transfer to the JR Kamaishi line to get to Kamaishi Station. Sanriku Railway’s Minami-Rias line provides easy access to Kamaishi, if you are travelling within Iwate Prefecture. There are also highway buses link Kamaishi to Tokyo, Sendai, and Morioka.

Getting around

It is very common to explore Kamaishi on foot, as a lot of the city’s sights and attractions are located in the city centre. You may also take the bus or rent a car to reach sites that are farther from the downtown area, such as Mount Goyo and the Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site Ruins. 

Nature and Wildlife

Kamaishi offers a lifestyle rich in natural scenery, surrounded by the rias-style coastline on one side and a dramatic mountain-scape on the other. Compared to most parts of northern Japan, Kamaishi enjoys a relatively warm and mild climate, with a culture and cuisine that reflect its distinct four seasons. It is also home to both Sanriku Fukko National Park and Goyozan Prefectural National Park, both are listed as Prefectural Nature Conservation Areas.

Travel Tips from our Editor

Experience Kamaishi Festival

Held over three days every October, the Kamaishi Festival brings together the gods from the Mountain Shrine and coastal Ozaki Shrine. The god of Ozaki is carried in a portable shrine from the Ozaki Peninsula, and bought across Kamaishi Bay in a lively and colorful parade of Hikufune fishing boats covered in Tairyobata “big catch” flags. Arriving upon land, Kamaishi’s famous tora-mai, shishi-odori (tiger and deer dances) and other traditional performances parade through the city with portable shrines from each of the major districts. The tora-mai tiger dance troupes spend the evenings going around the various businesses in town to perform and bring good fortune for the year ahead.

Climb Mt. Goyo

Located in the Kitakami Highlands, Mt.Goyo is the tallest peak on the Sanriku Coast, at a height of 1,351 meters above sea level. It is blessed with panoramic views of the coastline, as well as the cities of Kamaishi to the north and Ofunato to the south. The mountain is renowned for its bountiful azaleas in spring and rhododendrons in summer, while also being home to a wide array of local wildlife. Those who climb at night are also able to spot the lights from squid fishing boats in the harbors far below.

Photo by Buenosia Carol from Pexels

Enjoy Kamaishi Ramen

Kamaishi Ramen is a regional variety exclusive to the city, characterized by its fine noodles and light sauce-based soup. Each eatery has its own unique take on the recipe that can be found in their choice of noodles, soup and topping. Kamaishi Ramen contains not only the people’s local pride and the history of the lively fishing port and steel town, but also the path of the progress made in its culinary culture.

Sustainability Recognitions

Top100 2019
Kamaishi is included in the 2019 Global Top 100 Sustainable Destinations
In 2019 Kamaishi received Green Destinations - Bronze Award
Kamaishi submitted good practice story in 2020 ITB Berlin and got 2nd place of the Best of Asia-Pacific.