Outside of Sendai, I often wonder what could be seen in Miyagi if one were to travel there. I have been to the famous Matsushima, or to several locally known spots near the prefecture capital like Jogi-Nyorai. But further down south from Sendai, what can we find? In this article I will list down top 5 destinations to visit in the southern part of Miyagi, according to my opinion. Without further ado, here’s the list:
What’s not to love from this city. Shiroishi is conveniently located on the middle of JR Tohoku Line, the main train line that connects Tokyo to . It is also known as the gateway to Mt. Zao, a popular tourist destination in the prefecture.
However that is not why I put Shiroishi on the list. Shiroishi makes the list because it has a spectacular castle, which yet tiny offers you great view from the top of the castle. The castle is also the ground for Oni-kojuro Festival in October, a cool reenactment of Siege of Osaka. (Disclosure: I’m secretly preparing another post to entertain you with the festival’s details!) Lastly, the town’s special dish, umen, is something you have to try once.
How to go: From Tokyo take shinkansen and stop by Shiroishi-zao station.
2. Marumori and Kakuda
I put these two cities together simply because they are close next to each other and can be accessed via Abukuma Express train. Both cities also have Abukuma River flow through them. In Marumori you could visit Sairi Yashiki, the old merchant house that highlights the history of river merchant during the olden days. On summer the merchant house holds “Sairi Phantom“, a rather mesmerizing night lantern event. You can also experience making bookmark from silk here.
Kakuda on the other hand, is more known due to JAXA‘s rocket engine development center in the outskirt of the city. Because of that, a cool science-y attraction called Space Tower is built in the middle of city’s Daiyama Park. If you go to the top of the tower you could see the whole city. Beside that, you can rent a bicycle to ride around the city the whole day only for only ¥100! Do try the bicycle rental when the weather is warm.
How to go: From Tokyo take shinkansen and get off in Fukushima station. Then take Abukuma Express line to either Marumori or Kakuda. They’re separated by only one station.
Probably the most challenging location to reach in this list, Shichikashuku makes up for being ‘hard to reach’ by offering superb, alluring nature view. Situated at the mountains near Mt. Zao, Shichikashuku is a small town reachable by bus from Shiroishi station bus pool. Once you get there, it is up to you to choose where to go. Shichikashuku Dam and Shichikashuku Park are popular destinations, but if you wish to try a rather off the beaten path choice, Lake Choro is where you should go. In summer supposedly you can kayak here, and in winter you could walk around its whitey snow terrain with a charming suspension bridge in the vicinity. Just make sure you check ahead the weather forecast because you do not want to be trapped there when the weather goes bad.
How to go: From Tokyo take shinkansen and stop by Shiroishi-zao station. Walk to Shiroishi station and take bus to Shichigashuku from bus pool.
When it comes to spring, nothing beats Ogawara in Miyagi. I mean almost nothing. The spot boasts hitome senbon-zakura, a line of nearly 1,200 sakura trees decorating Shiroishi River side starting roughly from Ogawara Station to Funaoka Station. Spring festival with food stalls is a staple of the area every year. If you walk through the path until Funaoka-joshi Park (also known as Funaoka Hill) in Shibata City, you will find the sight that is worth the effort to come there. Go find the statue of Funaoka Peace Kannon at the hill peak. Take the tram or just walk along the scenic path, it’s your choice!
How to go: From Tokyo take shinkansen and get off at Fukushima station. Then change to Tohoku line towards Ogawara.
5. Zao Fox Village
The last entry in my top 5 is probably topping the ‘must-go’ list of many people thinking to come to Miyagi. Yes indeed, Zao Fox Village is a place where you can see almost hundreds of cute reddish foxes running around in front of your eyes. Right after you pay the entrance fee and pass the door to the fox’s enclosure you will be treated to the adorable scenery. Foxes doing their business, sleeping anywhere and they would follow you if you give them fox treat. Be cautious that there is very little supervision from the staff and since they are pretty much wild animals, better not try to pet them. Also, if you come in winter, be careful with the rather slippery ground. All in all, the fox village is a great place to visit in any season. In my opinion however, winter makes the foxes stand out more in the snow and that ought to be the best time to visit.
How to go: From Tokyo take shinkansen and stop by Shiroishi-zao station. Then from there take a taxi to Zao Fox Village.
Last but not least, if you wonder how far apart these places I mentioned are, I made a simple map down here to indicate their locations!
That’s it, that’s my top 5 pick for destinations in southern Miyagi! See you in the next post!