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ITINERARIES Matsushima, Akiu Onsen and Sendai Visit one of Japan's top three scenic spots, and a historic hot spring resort town

Experience the glorious views that inspired poet Matsuo Basho to write the famous poem known throughout Tohoku, "Oku no Hosomichi" (Narrow Road to the Deep North).

Stop in Sendai for some shopping and local history. Make a day trip to Matsushima Bay, dotted with over 260 small islands, and travel to Akiu Onsen, a small hot spring village with outdoor activities and opportunities for relaxation.


    The breathtaking beauty of pine-covered islands in Matsushima Bay
    Relaxing in Akiu's hot springs
    A historical walk around Sendai

How to Get There

From Tokyo: 2 hours or 6 hours

Sendai is best reached by bullet train on the JR Tohoku Shinkansen. Trains depart up to seven times an hour. Overnight buses are also available.

Day 1
Sendai The gateway city to northern Japan

Photo: Copyright : Sendai Tourism, Convention and International Association / ©Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association / None / None

A one and a half-hour ride from Tokyo by shinkansen, Sendai is the gateway to Tohoku , Japan’s northeastern region known for its remoteness and rugged landscapes. The feudal lord Date Masamune (1567-1636) constructed the town, and his legacy lives on in the castle ruins and monuments throughout the city.


Aoba-dori Street, lined with Zelkova trees, is a great place to walk and shop, as well as the shopping arcade in the city center, Chuo-dori. From August 6 to 8 the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri’s colorful paper ornaments line Chuo-dori’s streets.


35 minutes

Walk 4 minutes to Sendai Station and take JR Senseki-Tohoku Line to Takagimachi Station for 23 minutes. And then change to JR Senseki Line to Matsushima Kaigan Station. Matsushima Bay is 2 minutes on foot from the station.

Matsushima Bay Take an island cruise and explore the scenery and sites of Matsushima

On the way to Shiogama Port from Sendai , stop by Shiogama-jinja Shrine, surrounded by cherry trees. There are 202 steps to the top. In the museum, you can see swords, armor and helmets on display, and information about salt-making. At the Marine Gate Shiogama, grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants and seafood venues.

Sushi made with Sasanishiki rice

Shiogama-jinja Shrine

Photo courtesy of Miyagi Prefecture Tourism Promotion Division

There are many cruise courses available in the Matsushima Bay area, lasting from 25 to 70 minutes. The Basho Cruise is a popular option, a one-way course from Shiogama Port to Matsushima Pier, which takes you across the bay and passes by some of the most famous islands and impressive rock formations. The islands are works of Mother Nature, eroded over time to form compelling shapes and patterns. Each island has its own special name.

Godaido Temple

Photo courtesy of Miyagi Prefecture Tourism Promotion Division

After your cruise, take some time to visit the historical temples within walking distance of the pier. Godaido Temple is a 2-minute walk from the sightseeing boat pier across a red wooden bridge, and Kanrantei teahouse is a nice place to see Japanese sliding screens covered in gold leaf.

Kanrantei teahouse

Photo courtesy of Miyagi Prefecture Tourism Promotion Division

Zuiganji Temple is one of the most famous in the region, built by Date Masamune and designated a national treasure.

Day 2

1 hour 10 minutes

Take JR Senseki Line at Matsushimakaigan Station to Sendai Station for 37 minutes and then take Miyakoh bus Akiu Line for 30 minutes to Akiu Yumoto Bus stop

Akiu Onsen A historic hot spring town along the banks of the Natori river

Photo: ©City of Sendai

Get information and learn about Akiu at the Sendai Akiu Bunka no Sato Center (The Akiu Tourist Information Center). From the information center, the majestic Akiu Otaki Falls are a 30-minute bus ride. Reaching 55 meters high and 6 meters wide, you can view the falls from an observation deck or walk along the trail to the base of the falls.

After visiting the falls, make your way back to the information center. From there, you can take a 5-minute walk to Rairai Gorge, with a one-kilometer walkway surrounded by giant rocks. Take in the views of the canyon from Nozoki-bashi Bridge.

From the gorge, Akiu Kogei-no-Sato (Akiu Craft Village) is a 20-minute walk. Try your hand at making a local craft alongside one of the resident expert artisans. Hands-on experiences include indigo fabric dyeing and painting Kokeshi dolls, with advance reservation.

Make the most of your time in Akiu Onsen by booking an overnight stay at one of Akiu’s many ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) or guesthouses.

More to Explore
Hanamaki Onsen Beautiful baths at Hanamaki Onsen

North of Sendai is the hot spring resort town Hanamaki Onsen, a place to relax in curative waters and enjoy a relaxing stay at one of the four Japanese inns in the area. It's also a great base for exploring the coastal area around Kamaishi a two-hour train ride away, currently being rebuilt after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and also the site of Rugby World Cup 2019 games held at the newly built Unosumai stadium.

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