Note: this post was re-posted from my old website, originally published in May 2017. This article added new photos.
Outside of Sendai, I often wonder what could be seen in Miyagi if one were to travel there. I have traveled to the famous Matsushima and several locally known spots near the prefecture capital like Jogi-Nyorai. I even went north to climb the beautiful Kurikoma autumn.
But further down south from Sendai, what can we find? In this article, I will list down the top 5 destinations to visit in the southern part of Miyagi, according to my opinion. Without further ado, here’s the list:
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What’s not to love about this city? Shiroishi is conveniently located in the middle of the JR Tohoku Line, the main train line that connects Tokyo and Sendai. 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, while tiny, offers you a great view from the top of the castle. The castle also acts as the ground for Oni-kojuro Festival in October, an incredible reenactment of the famous Siege of Osaka. 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 to each other and can be accessed via the Abukuma Express train. Both cities also have Abukuma River flowing through them.
In Marumori you could visit Sairi Yashiki, the old merchant house that highlights the history of river merchants during the olden days. In summer, they hold ‘Sairi Phantom’, a rather mesmerizing night lantern event. You can also experience making bookmarks from silk here.
Kakuda, on the other hand, is more known due to JAXA’s rocket engine development center on the city’s outskirts. Because of that, a cool attraction called Space Tower is built in the middle of the city’s Daiyama Park. If you go to the top of the tower, you could see the whole city. Besides that, you can rent a bicycle to ride around the city for the whole day for only 100 yen! Do try the bicycle rental when the weather is warm.
How to go: From Tokyo take shinkansen and get off at 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 on this list, Shichikashuku makes it up by offering a superb, alluring nature view. Situated in the mountains near Mt. Zao, Shichikashuku is a small town reachable by bus from Shiroishi station bus pool. Once you get there, you can go to Shichikashuku Dam or Shichikashuku Park.
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.
How to go: From Tokyo take shinkansen and stop by Shiroishi-zao station. Walk to Shiroishi station and take a bus to Shichikashuku from the 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 the riverside 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 worth the effort to come. Take the tram or 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 why people go to Miyagi. Yes, indeed, Zao Fox Village is a rather famous place where you can see hundreds of cute reddish foxes running around in front of your eyes. 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 treats.
Be cautious that there is very little supervision from the staff, and since they are pretty much wild animals, do 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, which should 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.
That’s it; that’s my top 5 picks for destinations in southern Miyagi! See you in the next post!