Morioka’s Pop-up Pedestrian Zone Draws Crowd for Food Stalls, Mochi Pounding

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The street in front of Morioka Station is crowded with visitors to a pop-up pedestrian zone in Morioka on Oct. 21.

MORIOKA — Pedestrians took over a street near Morioka Station in Iwate Prefecture last month. Despite the rain, crowds packed the car-free road at the “Morioka Ekimae Kaiun Hokoten” event on Oct. 21, with food and drink stalls lining the street.

The event was put together by an association for the shopping street, the Morioka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other organizations.

Preparations for the event began last November as the first step toward creating a more walkable town.

The 130-meter stretch from the east exit in front of the station to Kaiun Bridge was transformed into a pedestrian zone for about four hours, with about 20 shops and local restaurants setting up stalls.

Kids could enjoy a mochi pounding event and a special street stall area, and a photo area was set up to allow for pictures from a usually inaccessible spot.

“I want people to use this event as a starting point to walk around the city and feel the wonder of Morioka,” said Kazunori Ishida, 73, chairman for the event committee.

Tetsumasa Sato, 23, a local government employee in Morioka, visited the event with a colleague. “It’s a fresh and different scene, and it’s fun. I hope they’ll hold it again in the future,” he said.