Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Morioka Hachimangū: Morioka’s Less-Known Must-Visit Shrine

Proceeding east of Morioka-jō Castle Site Park, the ground beyond the giant vermilion-painted torii gate is Morioka Hachimangū Shrine’s precinct. It is a less-known spot to foreign tourists, but a shrine you won’t want to miss out on. Because Morioka Hachimangū Shrine (盛岡八幡宮) is very spacious and located on a slightly high ground, you can oversee Morioka‘s cityscape from here. With rich vegetation on its ground, the shrine shows a different face depending on which season you visit it. You might even spot a Japanese Serow walking in the precinct!

Tip: Morioka Hachimangū is also a cherry blossom spot in Morioka. The cherry trees that line the west side of the shrine create gorgeous scenery in early spring each year.

Morioka Hachimangū’s History

Morioka Hachimangū was erected by Minamoto no Yoriyoshi (源頼義) when he ceremonially transfered a part of the spirit of the main god of Iwashimizu Hachimangū Shrine (石清水八幡宮) to Morioka.

Minamoto no Yoriyoshi was a Japanese samurai lord who was the head of Osaka’s Minamoto clan in the mid-Heian period (794 – 1185).

In 1953, when the Nambu clan was building Morioka Castle, the shrine was renovated as a guardian shrine of the city. This explains why the shrine has a vast precinct. As with most shrines in Japan, there are multiple auxiliary shrines at Morioka Hachimangū (12 to be exact). Gods closely related to our daily life are enshrined on the precinct, such as the ones who look after victory, business, academics, health, and performance arts. Since there are a variety of gods here, Morioka Hachimangū is sometimes referred to as the ‘Theme Park Shrine’ (神社のテーマパーク).

What to See at Morioka Hachimangū

The things that come in a variety aren’t just limited to the number of gods at Morioka Hachimangū. You will likely find cats of different breeds and colors at the shrine. One might even be asleep on the donation box!

While the current main worship hall was restored in 1997, smaller items, such as the lanterns and the Sacred Treasure Hall (神宝殿), are from the Edo period. The old but intricately painted wooden ema plaques of different sizes hung in one of the passageways are another amazing thing to see at the shrine.

Although wishing plaques are much smaller and standardized nowadays, the ones sold at Morioka Hachimangū are unique. You would want to bring the gourd-shaped ema plaque home instead of writing your wishes on it and hanging it at the shrine.

In addition, one type of fortune slip is in a bream shape. It is called Medetai Omikuji (目出鯛おみくじ). Medetai means auspicious, and the “tai” in the medetai, by itself, can mean sea bream. After reading the fortune slip, the sea bream is a nice souvenir!

The Festivals at Morioka Hachimangū

Morioka Hachimangū Shrine is best known for the Morioka Autumn Festival (盛岡秋まつり). Held from the 14th to the 16th of September, this three-day festival attracts more than 200,000 visitors and has a history that can be traced back to 1709. Initially, it celebrated the completion of Morioka‘s town development, which the Nanbu clan had planned and built.

The portable shrine parade isn’t just a festival event. It prays for the happiness of the participants. The Nanbu-style horseback archery ritual is also a part of the grand festival!

Moreover, Morioka Hachimangū is where the festival, Chaguchagu Umako (チャグチャグ馬コ), ends. It is another must-see festival in Morioka.

On the 2nd Saturday of June each year, around 100 splendidly decorated horses depart from Onikoshisozen Shrine (鬼越蒼前神社). If you can’t be at Morioka during the Chaguchagu Umako festival, there are two decorated life-sized horse figures in a wooden hut for you to check out.

Of course, temporary stalls are set up in the morning, making the events more lively and enjoyable!

Morioka Hachimangū Shrine’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Morioka Hachimangū’s shrine office is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • If you plan to take a bus, get off at Hachimangū-mae (八幡宮前). You can also get off at Matsumo-mae (松尾前). The shrine will then be a 5-minute walk.

Discover the Must-Visit Attractions in Morioka

Azumaya Honten Morioka Iwate Japan
Click the photo for travel ideas in Morioka!

When you hear of Morioka, Wanko Soba and Morioka cold noodles are probably the two first things that come to mind. But the city isn’t just about food. It also has many cultural attractions, hot springs, nature and more!

So refer to our Morioka article for ideas about where to stop by when visiting Iwate Prefecture’s capital city!