Shell middens scattered across the city, telling the story of life in the Jomon Period
Ofunato is a picturesque city, with scenic spots that include Goishi Beach, regarded as one of the best scenic spots in Sanriku Fukkō National Park, and the Goyōzan Prefectural Natural Park. The city has a thriving fishing industry, with the No. 1 haul of pike on Honshu Island, the No. 1 haul of krill (Euphausia pacifica) in Japan, farm-raised scallops and oysters, and dried abalone.
The city’s relationship with seafood goes back to ancient times. Ofunato has one of the highest concentrations of shell middens in Japan, with approximately 30 of these shell mounds inside the city. The middens at Takonoura, Shimofunato and Ohora have been officially designated as historical sites by the government of Japan. Earthenware, stoneware, habitation sites and human bones excavated from these sites provide information on the ancient lives of the Jomon Period. The Ofunato City Museum at Goishi Beach provides educational exhibitions on geology and human history in relation to the ocean.
Yoshihama Suneka, a New Year’s Ritual registered as an UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage
A variety of local folk performing arts, including Kenbai, Shishiodori, Shichifukujin, Toramai, Shishimai, Kyokuroku and Taueodori, have been passed down by many local groups in Ofunato. Ryoridaigongen from Sanrikucho Ryori is one of the most outstanding. It employs a movable shishi-gashira or lion head mask, the largest of its kind in Japan. Watching its fluid movements along with the exuberant dancing is a truly powerful experience.
“Yoshihama Suneka” from Sanrikucho Yoshihama is one of the Raiho-shin rituals (visits by deities in masks and costumes) that take place in various regions of Japan. These important folk customs were designated as an UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in November 2018. The word “Suneka,” short for “Sunekawataguri,” comes from the punishment for a lazy person whose shins have red spots because they do nothing but cling to the fireplace for too long. Here, the skin (kawa) of the lazy person’s shin (sune) is symbolically scraped off (takuru). This ritual takes place every year on January 15 (or Koshogatsu), when “Suneka,” local people dressed in frightening masks visit houses, admonishing laziness and teaching children good behavior. Through this ritual, people pray for their children’s healthy growth, a good haul and a good harvest.
Ofunato City Museum
Ofunato City Museum, located at Goishi Beach in Sanriku Fukkō National Park, has “Ofunato: Its Ocean and Land” as a unifying theme for exhibitions, and provides educational exhibitions on geology and human history in relation to the ocean. At the theater, a film is regularly shown called “Raging Sea: Ofunato, hit with frequent tsunami,” a compilation of movies and photos of the tsunami during the Great East Japan Earthquake and various records of tsunami before the quake.
Address| 221-86 Ohama, Massakicho Aza Ofunato, Iwate 022-0001,Japan
Phone| +81 (0)192-29-2161
Ofunato Civic Center and Library (Rias Hall)
Rias Hall is a multi-cultural complex encompassing a hall and a library, designed to accord with the city’s signature scenic attraction Anatoshi Iso Beach. The building has four levels with three floors above ground and an underground level. Various programs and rental events take place at the Center’s facilities, which include a main hall as well as multi-purpose space, conference rooms, gallery space, a studio workshop, a Japanese style room and a tea ceremony room. With approximately 160,000 books in its collection, the library was thoughtfully designed, equipped with reading and study desks and a lounge area.
Address｜18-1 Shimotateshita Sakaricho Aza Ofunato,Iwate 022-0003,Japan
Ofunato Tourism Site OFUNA TRIP