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.
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.
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.
Iwate Prefecture operates public high schools, including: