[mawr-ee-oh-kuh; Japn. maw-ree-aw-kah]
Morioka, city (1990 pop. 235,434), capital of Iwate prefecture, N Honshu, Japan, on the Kitakami River. An industrial and commercial center, it is noted for the production of ironware. Iwate Univ. and a 12th-century castle are in Morioka.

is the capital city of Iwate prefecture, Japan.

As of 2003, the city has an estimated population of 287,672 and the density of 588.11 persons per km². The total area is 489.15 km².

Morioka was founded in 1597 by Nobunao, the 26th lord of the Nanbu clan, as a castle town. In 1655 Nanbu-han was divided into Morioka-han and Hachinohe-han. Its name was changed from 盛岡 to 森岡 (both read as Morioka) in 1683 when the population was 36,000. The city was designated the capital of Iwate on April 1, 1889.


Morioka is in the territory inhabited by the Emishi people in ancient times. The general Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, who was ordered to conquer the Emishi, built Shiwa Castle here in 803, and the region gradually was brought under imperial control.

At the end of the Heian period, Morioka was under the control of the Ōshū Fujiwara Clan based in Hiraizumi, to the south of Morioka. The clan was destroyed by shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo, and the Kudo Clan replaced it. During the Muromachi period, the Nambu Clan, based in Sannohe to the north, expanded its territory and built Kozukata Castle here. Kozukata changed its name to Morioka in the 17th century.

In the Boshin War, Morioka made a pro-shogunate alliance with Aizu, and fought against the imperial force. As a consequence Kozukata castle was destroyed in 1874.


On January 10, 2006 the village of Tamayama from Iwate District merged into Morioka.


Morioka is located in the Kitakami Basin at the confluence of three rivers, the Kitakami, the Shizukuishi and the Nakatsu. The Kitakami River is the longest river in Tohoku and runs through the city from north to south. An active volcano, Mount Iwate, dominates the view to the northwest of the city. Mount Himekami is to the north and Mount Hayachine can sometimes be seen to the southeast.


Morioka Station was the original northern terminal of Tohoku Shinkansen. The line was extended to Hachinohe in 2002, but the station has kept its significant role in the traffic of northern Tohoku. Akita Shinkansen also branches off at the station.


The Iwate Museum of Art in Morioka displays works by three notable local artists, Tetsugoro Yorozu, Shunsuke Matsumoto and Yasutake Funakoshi, as well as holding exhibitions on national and international themes.

Temples and shrines

Hoonji is a temple which was originally built at Sannohe by the 13th lord of the Nambu Clan, Moriyuki, in 1394, and brought to Morioka by the 27th lord, Toshinao. It was considered the head temple among the 280 operated by the Nambu Clan. its notable feature is the Rakando (Statues Hall), built in 1735 and rebuilt in 1858. It's central statue Rushana-butsu is reported to be made by Kodo-daishi. Within the Rakando 500 Rakans, ('holy people who deserve other's offerings') which were made in Kyoto and later brought to Morioka, rest on a series of 5 rows of shelves that stretch around the room. Today it is known as a Zen training temple for monks.

Mitsuishi temple (literally, 'three rocks'), has three large rocks on the grounds with shackles around them to represent the story of 'Oni no tegata', which is a legend explaining the origin of the name of Iwate prefecture. According to the legend, there was once a devil who often tormented and harassed the local people. When the people prayed to the spirits of Mitsuishi for protection, the devil was immediately shackled to the rocks and made to promise never to trouble the people again. As a sign of this promise, the devil left a handprint on one of the rocks, thus giving rise to the name Iwate, literally meaning ‘rock hand’. Even now after a rainfall it is said that the devil’s hand print can still be seen.

Martial arts The Sho Sho Ryu (High reward academy) is based in Morioka. This school is practicing one of the oldest Japanese martial arts called Yawara. Mr Takahashi is the present family headmaster of the 68th generation. The first roots of this school date back to the seventh century.


Morioka attracts tourists with local noodles such as jajamen, reimen, and wanko soba. Brewing is also a thriving industry of the city. Nambu Senbei, a type of rice cracker, is considered a local delicacy. Gyutan (beef tongue) is also very popular.


Morioka operates its public elementary and junior high schools.

Iwate Prefecture operates public high schools, including:


Notable persons

External links


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