Posts tagged with "Miyagi"

Miyagi – Japan’s Most Relaxing Vacation

Geothermal wonders that rejuvenate the body and mind, Japan’s onsens (naturally occuring hot springs) are a must for any traveler, and Miyagi Prefecture has no shortage of them. With many dotted throughout Miyagi’s diverse terrain, each onsen provides a unique experience with different water sources producing baths of different temperatures, mineral content, texture and more. As these onsens are often located in the mountains, by the ocean and in forests, they provide a great place for travelers to practice the tradition of toji, extended stays at onsens to recuperate from illness or overexertion. Below is a sample of Miyagi’s best onsens for travelers to dream of relaxing in once travel restrictions are lifted.

Reflective pond at Tenshukaku Gardens (©Visit Miyagi)

One of the more popular onsen towns due to its proximity to Miyagi Prefecture’s capital Sendai, Akiu Onsen is tucked in the region’s mountains. The town features about a dozen hot spring hotels located along the scenic Natorigawa River with many offering day use of their hot spring baths. Nearby, Tenshukaku Gardens is home to its own onsen, known as Ichitaro no Yu. After strolling through the traditional Edo-style garden, guests can warm up in the hot spring with a view of Mount Osawa. Lucky bathers may even get to catch a glimpse of kamoshika, a rare Japanese goat-antelope often seen roaming on the mountainside. While the onsen’s water will leave skin soft and silky, Akiu Onsen water is also said to improve quality of sleep, circulation and reduce stress levels.

Sakunami Onsen is located deeper into the mountains and the train ride to this town passes through thick pine and maple tree forests with views of the Hirosegawa River below. This onsen town was often visited by weary monks, members of the shogunate and the shogun himself centuries ago as the water was said to treat a variety of illnesses. After cleansing their mind and body at the onsens on the rocky banks of the river, travelers can opt to hike one of the many trails or take a day trip to the Nikka Whiskey Miyagikyo Distillery.

Naruko Onsen’s diverse hot spring water makes for a rich experience (© JNTO)

Known as one of the “Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan,” Matsushima Bay has its own onsens facing towards the bay with views of countless small islands

Several hotels near the bay have their own natural onsen facilities and staying the night is highly recommended. Guests should make their way out to the open-air baths during the night to see thousands of stars light up the bay. For early birds, the baths are also an ideal spot to watch the sunrise. While Naruko Onsen can be a little hard to get to as it’s hidden away in the hills of northwestern Miyagi, the trip is worth it. Naruko Onsen boasts one of the richest onsen experiences anywhere as the town has eight of the ten types of hot spring water found in Japan. Additionally, the town has more than 400 different springs providing an almost endless variety of bathing facilities. Naruko Onsen also has a wide range of ryokans from traditional inns to luxurious private baths.

The Miyagi Onsen Experience: Watch HERE

For more information on Miyagi Prefecture’s onsens, travelers are encouraged to use the website’s Trip Organizer which has plenty of resources and travel tips. Travelers can also watch this short video highlighting experiences at onsen towns in the prefecture.

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, Saudi Arabia (Tabuk)

Visit Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture

While Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture is not yet open to international travelers, there are a number of foodie destinations that should be on travelers’ bucket lists when travel restrictions are lifted. Below are some incredibly unique restaurants, breweries and wineries that showcase the best of Miyagi’s local cuisine.

Akiu Winery in the quiet hills of Akiu was founded in 2015 in an effort to support the prefecture’s local agriculture. The winery produces an incredible array of wines using Merlot, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris grapes that are all grown on the estate. Guests who stop by the winery can sample any of the wines, cheeses and meats, and take a tour of the winery. Japan’s whiskey industry has received global recognition over the last few years, and travelers can experience the scene first-hand at the Miyagikyo.

Miyagikyo Distillery produces Nikka Whiskey which was originally made by the “Father of Japanese Whiskey,” Masataka Taketsuru. Taketsuru founded this second Nikka distillery in 1969 at the junction of two rivers among the Sakunami Mountains. Guests can tour the facility, participate in a whiskey tasting seminar and purchase distillery-exclusive whiskies at the gift shop. There are also a small number of microbreweries in Miyagi including one at the restaurant

Naruko no Kaze serves Japanese dinner staples like ramen and curry rice along with acclaimed sake and beer that is brewed on-site. Its awarding-winning doburoku, a thick, unfiltered farmhouse-style sake, along with its beers, which are made from local ingredients such as Yukimusubi rice and yamabudo (wild mountain grapes), are a must-try for all visitors. Miyagi’s restaurant scene also highlights the best of the prefecture’s local cuisine. Travelers who find themselves in Naruko Onsen should take a short tip to Egao Shokudo, a local soba shop. The fresh vegetables and mushrooms are all foraged by the ladies who run the shop and the local community of the surrounding mountains. The hand-picked vegetables and mushrooms are also pickled and available for purchase in the store.

As Japan is well known for its seafood, no trip to Miyagi would be complete without a visit to the Koei Suisan Fish Store, a popular local store in Matsushima Bay. In addition to offering the freshest seafood available, this family-run shop farms its own oysters. During oyster season (mid-October to mid-March), guests can savor yakigaki (grilled oysters) and raw oysters for dine-in or take-out.

Miyagi also has an incredible array of sakes distributed in the United States for people to try while dreaming of these foodie destinations. With more than 350 years under its belt, Uchigasaki Brewery is the oldest sake brewery in Miyagi Prefecture. Just north of the capital city Sendai, the brewery was founded in 1661 when its hometown Tomiya City became a popular post town along the Oshu Highway during the Edo period.

Another local favorite, Katsuyama has been making sake in Miyagi Prefecture since 1688. This brewery offers a wide variety of crystal-clear sakes to choose from, appealing to every palette. Founded in 1724, the Urakasumi Sake Brewery has been family-run for thirteen generations. Since then, the brewery has been providing the sacred sake for Shiogama Shrine, a 1,200 year-old Shinto shrine and one of the largest and most beloved shrines in Miyagi.

Newer but no less reputable, Ichinokura Brewery was founded in 1973 after four local breweries joined forces to create a very special sake made completely by hand.

For more information on Miyagi, please visit http://www.visitmiyagi.com

Miyagi Japan x Cherry Blossoms

BLOSSOM SEASON

With the advent of spring, Japan comesminto bloom with cherry trees blanketing the country with their signature pink pastel petals. In Miyagi, the northern Japanese prefecture known for its natural attractions, cherry trees begin flowering in mid-April, providing unique destinations for endless hanami (flower viewing) even if travelers miss the sakura in Tokyo.

The Mount Zao region offers several vantage points from which to witness the colorful blossoms. The city of Ogawara, which is a thirty-minute train ride from Miyagi’s capital, Sendai, is home to the famous Hitome Senbonzakura (translation: “one thousand cherry trees in a glance”). Trees line the grassy banks of the Shiroishi River, which travelers can view via a river cruise, or by wandering by foot through the scenic grounds. Visitors can also picnic under the trees and sample local street food.

Further up the river near Sendai University, the Funaoka Castle Park is one of the more popular spots in Miyagi for hanami. For easy viewing, there is a slope car that travels up and down the park to view the castle ruins, the area’s famous Kannon statue and the hundreds of blooming trees scattered throughout the grounds.

Further north in the city of Sendai, Tsutsujigaoka Park is a popular spot among locals to view cherry blossoms. The park boasts some unique cherry tree species, including the popular somei yoshino variety and the ukonzakura variety (turmeric cherry trees), which are a pale yellow color instead of the flower’s iconic pink. The park lights up at night as food stalls selling sake and street food pop up, while traditional paper lanterns are illuminated to create an intimate setting.

Mikamine Park is another park in Sendai popular with families, which can be easily accessed from the Nagamachi-Minami Station. Unlike most hanami areas, Mikamine Park has a play area for kids and while there are no food stalls nearby, there are plenty of spaces to have a family picnic.

One of Japan’s “Three Canonical Views,”
according to 16th-century Neo-Confucian philosopher Hayashi
Gahō, Matsushima Bay offers one of the best sites in Japan for
hanami, especially at sunrise. Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu Park offers uninterrupted panoramic views of cherry blossoms lining the bay. A quick thirty-minute train ride from the park will take guests to Shiogama Shrine, one of the most revered shrines in Miyagi, which lights up for two nights in April, allowing travelers a unique opportunity to view the shrine and cherry blossoms at night.

In the northern region of Sanriku Coast, Hiyoriyama Park at the peak of Mount Hiyoriyama offers not only a beautiful place to view the cherry blossoms, but also holds historical significance for the area.

Overlooking the Kadonowaki and Minamihama residential districts of Ishinomaki City, where more than 500 people lost their lives during the 2011 tsunami, viewpoints around the park display photos of the views before the disaster, giving the viewer an understanding of its true magnitude.
Kawatabi Onsen
offers relaxing views of the cherry blossoms in Northern Miyagi. This hot spring village features trees all along the
Yuzawa River that are lit up at night. Travelers should check out all of the nearby onsens for a relaxing retreat or take a train through the nearby Naruko Valley to view the lush forests. For more information on Miyagi, please visit
www.visitmiyagi.com

Miyagi, Japan, Cherry Blossom, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine, Miyagi, Japan, Cherry Blossom, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine,

Tamara Yomour, illustration, japan, miyagi, 360 MAGAZINE

Miyagi Prefecture

From its dramatic coastline cliffs to its picturesque mountain ranges, Japan’s lesser-known Miyagi Prefecture boasts some of the country’s best terrain and natural environments for adventure travel and fitness aficionados.

As the cherry blossoms begin to bloom across Japan this spring, Miyagi will get ready to host two of the biggest marathons in the country. The Tohoku Food Marathon in Tome City is one of the biggest events in the region with hundreds of participants, including many from overseas. Inspired by France’s whimsical Marathon du Medoc, the multifaceted event features participants in costumes from their favorite shows and video games. The marathon events begin on April 25, 2020 with a relay marathon, followed by a full marathon, half marathon and several smaller races for teenagers and children on the April 26, 2020. Multiple food festivals are held in conjunction with the races, allowing runners and spectators to sample regional delicacies including over a hundred varieties of sake.
For those looking for more of a challenge, the Sendai International Half Marathon will be held in Miyagi’s capital on May 10, 2020. The annual marathon hosts over 10,000 runners from around the world. The route begins in Kohshin Rubber Athlete Park, traversing the city’s parks, lush avenues and stadiums. The race has several divisions, including 5K and 2K races, and is accessible to those in wheelchairs.

From the big cities to the picturesque landscapes of mountains and forests, Miyagi’s title as the “Land of Contrasts” comes from the prefecture’s incredibly varied environments. One of the best way to experience its diversity is by hiking the Michinoku Coast Trail, one of Japan’s longest hiking trails. This 560-plus-mile trek runs from Fukushima to the Aomori Prefecture, passing through four of Miyagi’s inner regions. The most sought-after hiking location is the Northern Kesennuma Section on the Sanriku Coast, which features a scenic rocky coastline and the Ogama Hanzo Monolith and Dairiseki Coast, a shore composed of natural marble. 

Along the trail, hikers can take a break at Matsushima Bay, one of the great views of Japan, and paraglide along the bay’s iconic islands. At Shobutahama Beach, Takeshige Yamaya, a three-time paragliding national champion, offers tandem paragliding experiences. These experiences last around twenty minutes and offer incredible bird’s eye views of Matsushima Bay and, at higher heights, the city of Sendai and Mount Zao.

While the Michinoku Coast Trail and Matsushima Bay provide the best views along the coast, the Zao Hill Climb Eco event on May 24, 2020 is one of the best ways to see Mount Zao. Every spring, Miyagi Prefecture hosts this mountain biking tournament on two of Mount Zao’s roads: the Zao Echo Line and the Zao High Line. The challenging courses reach an altitude of 43,000 feet and a total length of 11.6 miles, starting from green terrain and ending at the snowy mountaintop. While many participants race, others go at their own pace to admire the incredible landscapes of Miyagi, including a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean and the Asahi Mountain Range (only accessible from the peak).

North of Mount Zao, the Onikobe Ski Resort offers the best ski runs with a mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced slopes and boasts the longest ungroomed powder run in Miyagi. Skiers can also hit the slopes after dark, as night skiing is offered on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Many of the lodges feature on-site onsens – a cozy way to unwind after an eventful day of skiing.

For more information on Miyagi, please visit http://www.visitmiyagi.com

MIYAGI, Japan, 360 MAGAZINE, Geoffrey Weill

JAPAN’S MIYAGI PREFECTURE

The “Land of Contrasts” Is the Gateway to the Lesser-Known Tohoku Region


Dubbed the “Land of Contrasts,” Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture is characterized by its bustling capital city of Sendai, the picturesque islands of Matsushima Bay, the coastal landscape and world-class seafood of Sanriku, the rice fields and vibrant wetlands of northern Miyagi, and the iconic crater lake, “snow monsters” and Fox Village at Mount Zao.


Known as the gateway to the lesser-known northern Japanese region of Tohoku, Miyagi is easily accessible via 90-minute bullet train ride from Tokyo, and by regular direct flights from all major Japanese cities, as well as from Seoul, Shanghai and Taipei. The highlights of this largely undiscovered corner of Japan include:


MATSUSHIMA BAY


A quick day trip from Sendai, the Matsushima Bay area is renowned for its legendary temples, coastal landscapes and islands, and delicious local seafood. At the very heart of the region is the 400-year-old Zuiganji Temple, which was built as the family temple of the founder of Sendai and has been designated a National Treasure. From there, travelers can explore the traditional Japanese gardens at Entsuin Temple, visit sake breweries and sample matcha at a local tea house. And of course, the main draw of Matsushima Bay are the 260 pine tree-topped islands, accessible by foot or boat, that dot the bay. And to top it all off, travelers can taste their way around the Shiogama Fish Market, just a short car ride away from Matsushima Bay (where they can even make their own sushi bowl or grill their own seafood).

SENDAI


The capital of Miyagi Prefecture and the largest city in the entire Tohoku region, Sendai is a major transit hub for the region, accessible by air, ferry, train and bus. The “City of Trees,” as it is known, is thus the starting point for most journeys throughout Miyagi and the Tohoku region at large. Though a busy metropolis, Sendai is known as much for its access to nature and its hiking, camping and skiing as it is for its world-class restaurants, shopping and nightlife. And two of the area’s most historic hot springs (or onsen) are just on the city’s outskirts, at Akiu and Sakunami.


MOUNT ZAO


One of Japan’s most magnificent natural areas, the Zao region of southern Miyagi Prefecture is most famous for its iconic Mount Zao, featuring a colorful crater lake at its summit and, in wintertime, the mysterious “snow monsters” (the strange phenomenon created when freezing cold fronts from Siberia transform the mountain’s massive fir trees into snow- and ice- covered creatures). But beyond the famed deep-powder slopes of the mountain, the Zao area offers a wealth of excursions in other seasons, including immersion in samurai culture at Shiroishi Castle, the unique experience of communing with furry creatures at Fox Village, viewing thousands of cherry trees along the Shiroishi River at Hitome Senbon Zakura in springtime, and hiking and mountain biking through the fiery fall foliage in the autumn months.


SANRIKU COAST


Characterized by dramatic cliffs, hidden coves and abundant marine life, the Sanriku Coast has become a sought-after destination for seafood lovers and adventure travelers. Particular areas of interest include the utterly unique Cat Island Tashirojima and the holy island of Kinkasan, home to the Koganeyama Shrine, where wild deer roam freely and are regarded as messengers of the gods by Shinto priests. The Sanriku Coast is also considered a symbol of recovery, as the area suffered heavy damage in the 2011 tsunami. Each town along the coast has established memorials and museums to commemorate the disaster – one of the most affecting of which is the former Onagawa Police Station, an overturned ruin of a building that was torn from its foundation and dragged onto a nearby boat pier, where it still stands as a memorial.


NORTHERN MIYAGI


A vibrantly colored and naturally diverse destination year-round, the area of northern Miyagi is known for its natural wetlands, which fill with thousands of migratory geese and swans during wintertime and then dry up and are carpeted by fields of wild lotus flowers in summertime. And at Mount Kurikoma in the western part of the region, avid hikers are drawn to its fields of alpine wildflowers, dramatic autumn foliage and unkai (sea of clouds).


To know more about Miyagi Prefecture, go to: http://visitmiyagi.com.