Kitakami River

The Kitakami River (北上川, Kitakami-gawa) is the fourth largest river in Japan and the largest in the Tōhoku region. It is 249 kilometres (155 mi) long and drains an area of 10,150 square kilometres (3,920 sq mi).[1] It flows through mostly rural areas of Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures. The source of the river is the Mount Nanashiruge in northern Iwate, from which it flows to the south between the Kitakami Mountains and the Ōu Mountains.[1] The river is unusual in that it has two mouths, one flowing south into Ishinomaki Bay and the other flowing east into the Pacific Ocean, both in Ishinomaki City.

Kitakami River
The Kitakami River in Morioka
Native name北上川  (Japanese)
Physical characteristics
 • locationMt. Nanashigure
 • location
Pacific Ocean
 • elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length249 km (155 mi)
Basin size10,150 km2 (3,920 sq mi)
 • average391 m3/s (13,800 cu ft/s)
View of the Kitakami River looking north from the Takadachi Gekido in Hiraizumi, Iwate
The Kitakami river flowing through Kitakami, Iwate
View of the Kitakami River looking south in Tome, Miyagi

The Kitakami river was an important transportation route during the Edo period and before the building of railways in the early Meiji period. Numerous dams have been constructed on the river and its tributaries from the Taishō and Shōwa periods for hydroelectric power generation, flood control and irrigation.[1] However, another unusual feature is that there are no dams from its mouth to the Shijūshida Dam north of Morioka. This allows for a spectacular salmon run every fall.


In Iwate Prefecture from north to south showing from which direction the water flows and the city where it empties into the Kitakami River.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Campbell, Alan. editor (1993). Japan:An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Kodansha. ISBN 406205938X. {{cite book}}: |first= has generic name (help) page 793

External linksEdit

38°34′36″N 141°27′36″E / 38.576719°N 141.460111°E / 38.576719; 141.460111Coordinates: 38°34′36″N 141°27′36″E / 38.576719°N 141.460111°E / 38.576719; 141.460111 (mouth) 38°24′27″N 141°18′49″E / 38.407483°N 141.313667°E / 38.407483; 141.313667 (former mouth)