Mark the start of summer by making your way over to Tagajo Castle’s Ayame-en (Iris Park) to walk in fields of three million gorgeous iris flowers in over 800 types. On Saturday and Sunday, visitors can also enjoy stage events and numerous other activities—see below for details. The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Also be sure to take a stroll around the site where Tagajo Castle once stood. Built in 724, it served as the provincial capital from the Nara period to the Heian period. The castle, surrounded by one-kilometer long walls on all four sides, stood on a hill offering a sweeping view of Sendai Bay. Located nearby is the Tohoku History Museum, which provides a comprehensive look at the history of northern Japan.
Live penguins & Mollie the Penguin meet 'n' greet: June 15 (10:00~)
Adorable real penguins from Sendai's Umi no Mori Aquarium will come out to enjoy the festival, accompanied by Mollie the Penguin, the aquarium's mascot.
Hana ni Natte Odorou participatory dance: June 15 (10:30–11) & June 29 (14:30–15:00)
Traditional songs and dances of Tagajo will be performed around the flower beds, and visitors are invited to participate! Simply don a yukata (cotton kimono) and join in—no reservations necessary, and participants will receive a free commemorative souvenir.
Iris Garden Light-Up: June 20–22 (19:00–21:00)
An artistic light installation will illuminate the irises on these nights. In addition to the illumination, there will be live performances of traditional Japanese music and dance.
Open-air tea ceremony: every Saturday & Sunday (June 15–16, 22–23, 29)
Enjoy matcha freshly whisked by real tea ceremony practitioners! Each day, a different school will host the tea service. If you come on multiple days and have an eye for detail, you'll be able to spot observe key differences between the styles of each school! Tea service is 300 yen per cup—no reservations necessary.
Nobles' attire cosplay experience: every Saturday & Sunday (June 15–16, 22–23, 29)
Try on reproductions of historical attire from the Heian period, the fashions likely worn by the nobles and townspeople during the heyday of Taga Castle. The experience is free; no reservations are necessary.
Gotochi Gourmet Fair: every Saturday & Sunday (June 15–16, 22–23, 29)
Enjoy the local foods of Tagajo and Miyagi, plus those of their farther flung sister cities across Japan.
Stage performances: every Saturday & Sunday (June 15–16, 22–23, 29)
A wide range of entertaining live performances, ranging from traditional dance, to hula, to acts by contemporary local musicians. See below for detailed schedule (Japanese).
Kid's Corner: every Saturday & Sunday (June 15–16, 22–23, 29)
Chock full of activities sure to delight the little ones! Activities vary by day but include a large variety of crafting experiences, ball games, and a stamp rally. For specific events by day, please see event details link below.
View full event details (in Japanese) here