Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture
True Japanese hospitality, and some of the freshest seafood available.
Four hours away from Sendai in northern Japan, Kamaishi will host two 2019 Rugby World Cup games: Fiji vs. Uruguay, and Namibia vs. Canada.
In 2011 the town in Iwate Prefecture was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami which left over 1000 people dead in Kamaishi alone.
The story of Kamaishi is not a tragedy though — it’s one of unrelenting perseverance and an undying spirit. Through the world cup, the locals hope to see the town filled with joy and laughter again.
Come for the rugby, and stay for some of the freshest seafood available, friendly locals, a huge Buddha statue and more!
Kamaishi Unosumai Memorial Stadium
Of Japan’s 12 host cities, Kamaishi is the only one that had a stadium built for the Rugby World Cup.
Standing on the site where the local elementary and junior high schools were destroyed during the disaster, the Kamaishi Unosumai Memorial Stadium is a symbol of the town’s journey to reconstruction.
Surrounded by forests on one side, ocean on the other side, and green hilltops as far as the eye can see, there’s no other place like it in the world.
What to do before and after the Rugby World Cup
Party in the Fanzone
Watch all the RWC games on a huge screen surrounded by hundreds of excited fans at the Kamaishi Civic Hall. Enjoy live performances, local food and drinks, and play a bit of rugby yourself!
Gold-speckled tigers will come to life before your eyes at the Kamaishi Festival from Oct. 18 to 20. Performers in tiger costumes will dance down the streets of Kamaishi and there’s even a boat parade! The final day of the festival also includes a kagura performance — a wildly energetic traditional dance that tantalizes the senses.
Check the Kamaishi Rugby website for a full schedule of events.
What to eat
Heaps of fresh raw oysters, salmon, shrimp, and fish roe atop a steaming bowl of rice is the local specialty! Try it at the below restaurants.
Unosato Visitor Center
Only about a 10-minute walk from the stadium, this is a great place not only to eat but to buy souvenirs as well!
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Wednesdays
- Dai 16 Chiwari 7 2-1 Unosumaicho, Kamaishi, Iwate 026-0301 - Map
Eat kaisendon right from the sea to your table inside this local fish market! Seafood and local produce are on the first floor, while restaurants are up on the second. Right next to Kamaishi Station!
- Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed on Wednesdays
- 2-1 Suzukocho, Kamaishi, Iwate 026-0031 - Map
Yes, Japan’s love for themed cafes stretches all the way to the countryside. The Miffy cafe is fun for the whole family and sells unique one-of-a-kind Miffy merchandise.
- Hours: 11 a,m, to 4 p.m.; until 5 p.m. on Sat. and Sun.
- Kamaishi Information Exchange Center, 1 chome 1-10 Omachi, Kamaishi, Iwate 026-0024 - Map
Nearby Sightseeing Attractions
Uncover Kamaishi’s history, temples, and stunning natural landscapes.
Kamaishi Memorial Park and Tsunami Memorial Hall
Visit this small museum to learn more about the tragic events that happened during the 2011 earthquake and how the local junior high school students helped others to safety. Say a prayer for those who died or went missing during the disaster at the Memorial Park, right next to the Unosato Visitor Center.
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Wednesdays and Jan. 1
- Dai 16 Chiwari-72-1 Unosumaicho, Kamaishi, Iwate 026-0301 - Map
- Only about a 10-minute walk from the stadium!
The 48.5 meter tall Buddhist Goddess of Mercy towers over Kamaishi Bay. It’s an amazing sight from afar, but climbing up to the statue’s observation platform will give you an unbeatable panoramic view of the city’s coastline.
- Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- To enter the statue: ¥500 for adults, ¥300 for high school and middle school students, ¥100 for elementary students and younger
- 3-9-1 Odaira-cho, Kamaishi City, Iwate - Map
- Getting there: Take the bus from Kamaishi Station and get off at Kannon Iriguchi bus stop. From there, it's a 10-minute walk.
Head deep into the mysterious Ryusendo Cave in nearby Iwaizumi city to see it’s sparkling blue underground lake.
- Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. to April; 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. May to Sept.
- ¥1000 for adults, ¥500 for children
- Kannari 1-1 Iwaizumi, Shimohei-gun, Iwate 027-0501 - Map
- Getting there: About a two-hour drive from Kamaishi.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Discover one of the lost relics of Japan’s iron and steel industries during the Meiji-era at the Hashino Iron and Smelting Site. Though it may just look like a field scattered with a bunch of stone bricks, it is an important piece of Japan’s industrial history and is considered a World Heritage Site.
Chuson-ji Temple in nearby city Hiraizumi is another such site, with gorgeous golden walls that rival Kyoto’s Kinkaku-ji.
- Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for Chuson-ji Temple. The Hashino Iron Mining Site is always open.
- For Chuson-ji Temple: ¥800 for adults; ¥500 for high school students; ¥300 for junior high school students; ¥200 for elementary students
- Koromonoseki-202 Hiraizumi, Nishiiwai-gun, Iwate 029-4102 - Map
- Getting there: About 40 minutes by car from Kamaishi Station.
How to get there
- Take the Tohoku Shinkansen from Sendai Station to Shin Hanamaki Station. From there, transfer to the Kamaishi line and take a rapid train to Kamaishi Station. To get to the stadium, take the Sanriku Tetsudo Riasu line to Unosumai Station. You’ll see the stadium right across from the station.
- Take the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Morioka Station. Take a rapid train from there on the Tohoku line to Kamaishi Station. At Kamaishi Station, get on the Sanriku Tetsudo Riasu line and get off at Unosumai Station.
Kamaishi is very rural and best explored if you rent a car, but some public transportation is available. You can use the local Sanriku line to get from the stadium to Kamaishi Station where a lot of restaurants and cafes are located.