Festivals & Events
The beautiful sound of ringing bells takes over Morioka during the Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival in June. Watch as 100 horses clad in brightly colored harnesses and bells parade from Takizawa to Morioka with small children mounted on their backs.
The festival is accessible by shuttle from JR Morioka Station.
Take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Morioka Station. From there, a special shuttle bus is available on the day of the festival from bus terminal 16 in front of the station.
Since ancient times, Iwate Prefecture has been well-known for horse breeding. Human and animal have always lived in harmony in Iwate, often under the same roof.
The Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival began about 200 years ago so that farmers could give their horses a day off after the rigors of rice-planting and so they could pray for their health at the shrine.
To get a feel for what the festival was like 200 years ago, make a trip to Takizawa. The horses depart from Onikoshi-Sozen Shrine, dedicated to the deity of horses, and head for Hachiman Shrine in Morioka.
During the festival, the sound of bells takes over the city. Every time a horse takes a step forward, the bells ring "chagu chagu," hence the name of the festival.
The horses are adorned with up to 700 bells. One of the more unique bells is the donut-shaped bell around the horse's neck; originally it was used to ward off wolves.
There are two resting points where you can mingle with the horses, feed them carrots, take pictures and admire their costumes and bells. Just remember to never stand behind a horse, use a flash, or make a loud noise, as these actions could startle it.
After the festival is over, you can check out Hachiman Shrine, Iwate Park or one of the many other sights in Morioka.