Revisiting our “Focus on…” series of host cities, I decided to explore Kamaishi, which is an industrial city located on the Sanriku Coast of Iwate Prefecture, blessed with stunning natural surrounds and a fishing port.
After the events of March 11, 2011, however, many associate Kamaishi with the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster. Although devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, the city has made great strides in its recovery and looks to host the Rugby World Cup 2019 as a way to acknowledge and thank all those in Japan and around the world for their support.
Kamaishi is the site of Japan’s oldest steelworks and blast furnace, and has long been known for steelmaking. It was through this history as a steel industry town that Kamaishi’s connection to rugby began, as the local Nippon Steel sponsored team grew to become the top amateur team in Japan for seven consecutive years, from 1978 – 1984. Now known as the Kamaishi Seawaves, this local team has since played host to top athletes from all over the world, including Australian player Scott Fardy who, after playing for the Seawaves from 2009 to 2011, went on to play for Australia at the Rugby World Cup 2015. At the time of the 2011 disaster he, alongside his fellow teammates and members of the community, supported the immediate recovery efforts by distributing aid supplies to those in need. If you are visiting the World Cup and Kamaishi becomes your base, then you are in for a treat with the club stadium, which will host matches.
The current Kamishi Seawaves 2017 squad
You can also experience an abundance of rich nature throughout Iwate Prefecture, including coastal areas where Kamaishi is located, and a spectacular view of the Rias Coast greets visitors upon arrival in the city.
Kamaishi’s Hashino Iron Mining and Smelting Site is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and, alongside the ample cultural heritage to be found elsewhere in Iwate Prefecture, makes for a fascinating and historical tourist destination.
The tiger dance (Toramai) in Kamaishi
Iwate Prefecture is home to many traditional arts that have been passed down for generations. The Sansa Odori Dance in Morioka City’s taiko drum parade holds a title in the Guinness Book of World Records, while the famous tiger dances (Toramai) of Kamaishi are showcased in the annual Kamaishi Festival, held during the third week of October.
As the 2019 Kamaishi Festival will take place during the same period as the Rugby World Cup, visitors to the city will have a chance to witness these colorful dances for themselves.
If you love seafood, then the Iwate Prefecture, and Kamaishi in particular, will not disappoint. Known as a treasure house for one of Japan’s leading food and craft products, seafood is its main attraction for food lovers, however it does excel in snack items like Nanbu Senbei (rice crackers), and traditional crafts like Nanbu Ironware and Urushi Lacquerware.